Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Posts about Vikings

Vikings awarded a Manning (no, not that one) off waivers

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 16, 2014 - 10:18 AM

The Vikings have added a Manning at a need position.

No, sorry, it wasn't Peyton. Or even Eli or Archie.

The Vikings were awarded linebacker Terrell Manning off waivers from the San Diego Chargers today, adding another young and unproven player to the mix at that unsettled position.

Manning, 23, was a fifth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2012. He played five games as a rookie and made three tackles. The Packers waived him after training camp last season. The Chargers claimed him, and he suited up for one game before being released and signed to their practice squad.

Manning, who is listed at 6-feet-2 and 237 pounds, played his college football at N.C. State and was teammates with third-year Vikings linebacker Audie Cole.

Manning is now one of eight linebackers on the roster. Six of them are 25 or younger. One exception is Chad Greenway, who is the only linebacker who can currently be penciled in as a starter. The other is Jasper Brinkley, whom the team brought back after one season with the Arizona Cardinals.

Brinkley spoke with reporters this morning during a voluntary offseason workout that was open to the media, and he said he believes that he and the rest of the linebackers on the roster will get a chance to compete for starting spots. Brinkley believes he would be a good fit in Mike Zimmer's scheme as a thumping, run-stuffing middle linebacker. But youngers such as Cole, Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and now maybe Manning might have something to say about that.

Plus, it also seems likely the Vikings will use at least one draft pick -- potentially a high one -- to add more talent at linebacker. They will work out playmaking LB prospects Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr this week at their "Top 30" event in addition to Preston Brown and Demarcus Lawrence.

Of course, QB is arguably their biggest need. Unfortunately, no other Mannings are available.

Josh Samuda suffers gruesome ankle injury and Vikings bring back TE Allen Reisner

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 15, 2014 - 5:22 PM

Vikings guard Josh Samuda suffered a gruesome ankle injury during today’s voluntary offseason workout. The 25-year-old broke his fibula and dislocated his right ankle, according to a league source. He could also have ligament damage.

He will undergo surgery Wednesday morning. Doctors will find out the full extent of the injury then.

Samuda was participating in a non-contact drill in which one player chased another in a tight circle. He twisted his ankle, collapsed on the turf and clutched his leg, obviously in a great deal of pain. After a few minutes, he was helped off the field and taken into the trainer's room.

The workout was open to the media, and an image of Samuda’s ankle quickly went viral.

Samuda signed a reserve/future contract with the Vikings in January. He played 16 games for the Miami Dolphins in 2012 after signing as a rookie free agent out of Massachusetts. He did not play in 2013 after the Dolphins waived him before the start of the season.

In other news, the Vikings signed tight end Allen Reisner, who played for them in 2011 and 2012.

Reisner, 25, spent his first two seasons with the Vikings after they signed him as a rookie free agent out of Iowa. He played 10 games over two seasons, making two catches for 28 yards. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed him off the Vikings' practice squad late in the 2012 season and he played five games for them in 2013, making three starts and catching five passes for 40 yards.

The Vikings also worked out Towson running back Terrance West today, according to a league source. West, 23, set the Div. I FCS single-season rushing record in 2013 with 2,519 yards.

How are the Vikings spending their money?

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 14, 2014 - 7:19 AM

The Vikings were active before and immediately after the start of free agency, spending big bucks to re-sign defensive end Everson Griffen and quarterback Matt Cassel then bolstering their defense by adding defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

Now, a month after the NFL’s shopping spree began, all of the marquee free agents have been snatched up and the spending has died down around the league. But G.M. Rick Spielman and the Vikings have shown they still plan to tinker with the roster, evidenced by last week’s signing of wide receiver Lestar Jean and their contract offer to free-agent safety Kurt Coleman.

As of this morning, the Vikings have just under $11 million in salary cap space remaining, according to overthecap.com, so they will likely carry financial flexibility into the 2014 season.

That space could also allow them to offer an extension to an emerging young player -- tight end Kyle Rudolph is an obvious candidate -- before that player comes close to reaching free agency.

That is a post for another day, though, because today, I wanted to take a closer look at how the Vikings have spent their money. The website overthecap.com is a valuable resource, and it allows you to look at how much money each of the 32 teams is spending for each position.

For example, even though the Vikings are still in need of a backup running back to take some of the burden from Adrian Peterson, something my colleague Mark Craig explored over the weekend, no team has committed more of their salary cap space to the running back position.

As of this morning, the Vikings had $61.28 million of their cap space allocated to offensive players and $52.93 million to defenders. Their three specialists combine for a $2.41 million cap figure.

Let’s run though the numbers and see how much the Vikings are paying at each position group.

Quarterback ($8.98 million, 20th in the NFL): The Vikings are spending $8.98 million at the quarterback position after bringing back Cassel with a two-year, $10.5 million deal. Christian Ponder, a former first-round pick turned clipboard-holder, has a cap hit of $3.23 million. A dozen teams are spending less at the position, including the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, which shows how helpful it can be to have a quality starting quarterback on a rookie deal.

Running back ($19.16 million, most in the NFL): The Vikings have the NFL’s best back in Peterson, but he also carries a premier contract. Peterson has a cap number of $14.4 million this season, the highest cap figure on the team and the highest among NFL running backs. And with $2.13 million on the cap, Jerome Felton is carries one of the highest figures among fullbacks.

Wide receiver ($12.29 million, 21st in the NFL): Greg Jennings, in the second year of his contract, will count for $7 million against the cap. But the rest of the team's wide receivers combine to make just over $5 million. At $1.64 million, Cordarrelle Patterson should be bargain.

Tight end ($1.97 million, 30th in the NFL): Only two teams are spending less money on tight ends than the Vikings. In the final year of his rookie deal, Rudolph has a cap hit of $1.47 million.

Offensive line ($23.05 million, 17th in the NFL): The Vikings have one of the NFL's better pairs of starting offensive tackles in Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt, but they are only counting for a combined $11.14 million in salary cap space. Center John Sullivan has a cap hit of $4.75 million. The collective cap hits of those three will go up in 2015, but only about $3 million combined.

Defensive end ($16.59 million, ninth in the NFL): Despite letting long-time sack specialist Jared Allen walk in free agency, the Vikings still have a large amount of salary committed to this critical position. Griffen's $8.2 million cap figure is second on the team to only Peterson. Fellow starter Brian Robison, who also got a new deal from the Vikings, has a $5.7 million cap figure.

Defensive tackle ($11.27 million, 11th in the NFL): Joseph, the newcomer at nose tackle, has a cap figure of $5.75 million, fifth-highest on the Vikings roster. Sharrif Floyd, a 2013 first-round draft pick and the other projected starter at defensive tackle, carries a cap hit of $1.84 million.

Linebacker ($11.03 million, 24th in the NFL): The Vikings have a lot of youngsters at this position group, and those guys come relatively cheap. Veteran starter Chad Greenway, however, has a big cap number of $7.2 million, which ranks third on the Vikings behind Peterson and Griffen.

Cornerback ($9.81 million, 25th in the NFL): Munnerlyn was a significant signing for the Vikings, who needed a corner to play in the slot. But he carries a modest cap hit of just $3.33 million. Only one other Vikings cornerback, Xavier Rhodes, has a cap hit of more than $1 million. Derek Cox, a former starter in Jacksonville then San Diego, will make just $780,000.

Safeties ($6.40 million, 21st in the NFL): Starting strong safety Jamarca Sanford has a cap hit of $2.5 million, higher than starting free safety Harrison Smith, who has a $1.95 million cap figure.

Vikings holding workouts with Garoppolo, Bridgewater

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: April 11, 2014 - 4:54 PM

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will work out for the Vikings on Saturday at Winter Park, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter. It has also been reported that Bridgewater will be at the team's Top 30 gathering on Monday and Tuesday.

The Vikings had a private workout with Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Friday, an NFL source confirmed to our Matt Vensel.

The team has been in contact with Garoppolo since the East-West Shrine game. From there, Garoppolo earned a spot on the Senior Bowl roster, where the Vikings again reached out to Garoppolo. He was also at the NFL Combine and Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell was at his Pro Day.

It’s noteworthy that offensive coordinator Norv Turner didn’t get a chance to watch Garoppolo at the East-West game or at the Senior Bowl. His son, quarterbacks coach Scott Turner, was at the Senior Bowl as head coach Mike Zimmer was assembling his coaching staff.

While Garoppolo did throw at the Combine, where he measured at 6-2 and 226 pounds, but this could be Turner’s first shot of watching Garoppolo in person. The Walter Payton Award winner for FCS most outstanding player led the FCS with 5,050 passing yards.

The Vikings met with LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger on Thursday following his Pro Day. They’ll remain busy next week with their “Top 30” event scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

A quick look at the Vikings' 2014 opponents

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 11, 2014 - 7:03 AM

The NFL released its preseason schedule on Wednesday, which -- unless you are the rare fan who gets geeked up for exhibition games -- is noteworthy because it means the regular season schedule will be unveiled soon, too. The NFL hasn’t yet said when, but it should be in the next two weeks.

We do know who the Vikings will be playing this season. And where. We just don’t know when.

The Vikings play the NFC South in 2014. They last drew that division in 2011 as they rotate through the different NFC divisions every three years. They host the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium and will travel to play the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They play the AFC East for the first time since 2010. The New England Patriots and New York Jets will come to the Twin Cities and the Vikings will travel to play the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.

They also play the St. Louis Rams (on the road) and the Washington Redskins (at home) because those two teams, like the Vikings, finished last in their respective NFC divisions in 2013.

And, of course, the Vikings will play each of their NFC North rivals twice.

Only four opponents were playoff teams in 2013: the Packers (twice), Panthers, Saints and Patriots.

We will break down the opponents in greater detail once the schedule is announced, but here is the quick rundown of their home and road opponents this season (with 2013 records in parenthesis).

HOME: Bears (8-8), Lions (7-9), Packers (8-7-1), Falcons (4-12), Panthers (12-4), Patriots (12-4), Jets (8-8) and Redskins (3-13).

AWAY: Bears (8-8), Lions (7-9), Packers (8-7-1), Saints (11-5), Buccaneers (4-12), Bills (6-10), Dolphins (8-8) and Rams (7-9).

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