VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData, Arif Hasan of Vikings Territory, Aj Mansour, who hosts Minnesota Vikings Overtime on KFAN, and Joe Oberle a long-time Minnesota based writer. The VikesCentric crew crunches numbers, watches video and isn't shy about saying what's on their minds.

VIKES CENTRIC: Replacing Charlie - The Preferred Path To Filling The Gap At LG

Posted by: AJ Mansour under Vikings, Adrian Peterson Updated: February 28, 2015 - 6:50 AM

After placing most of their offseason attention on Adrian Peterson and the little situation he’s got going on with the league, the Minnesota Vikings made their first offseason splash on Friday releasing veteran guard Charlie Johnson.

Johnson, a four year starter for the Vikings, admittedly had his ups and downs with Minnesota but probably saw the writing on the wall after a subpar year highlighted some of the flaws that are accentuated with an aging body. So now, with no starter in place, we look at replacing Charlie Johnson and to no surprise, there are a multitude of ways to do so.

Stay In-House…
The cheapest and most immediate way to do it is to stay in house. Injuries during the 2015 season highlighted the fact that the Vikings aren’t exactly blessed with a plethora of depth on the offensive line, but there are some options available.

The first name that would be available to slide right in for Johnson would be Joe Berger. Acquired by the Vikings in 2011, Berger is a swing offensive lineman who has played both right and left guard for the Vikings. He’s also their backup center. The catch?  Berger, 32 years old, is also a free agent this season and seeing the direct need for the Vikings may be able to add a little value to his deal.

If you want to go the young route, look towards David Yankey, but do so carefully. Yankey, a fifth round selection in 2014, was deactivated most of the season in 2014 and didn’t play a snap for the Vikings. Also known for his versatility up and down the line, Yankey played both tackle and both guard positions in college at Stanford.

Go Shopping…
Maybe the most popular option would be to hit the open market and go shopping in free agency to bring in a veteran who can play right away. The name you most often hear...Mike Iupati (SF).

Iupati will not come cheap, you’re talking a cap hit of $6-$7 million dollars, but is it worth it? You get more of a guarantee of adequate performance from a veteran, but there is no 100% thing, and it comes with a price. You also won’t be the only one bidding for him so the price may drive up higher if a bidding war breaks out.

Other free agent options include Orlando Franklin (DEN) at the high level and Clint Boling (CIN) and Justin Blalock (ATL) a half tick down and a little more affordable.

Develop through the draft…
This is the most risky option for multiple reasons. Not only is there no guarantee that your rookie player will translate, you are also waiting through the free agency period before acting on the draft leaving your options stripped pretty thin if for some reason you come up short on Draft Day. That said, you can completely strike gold if you do it right.

Nail your pick at the left guard position and you could be sitting on an All Pro offensive guard for a low price for the next 3 seasons after they develop. The likely name that you’ve all been hearing, Brandon Scherff out of Iowa. Standing at 6’5” tall and running a 5.26 second 40 at the combine, Scherff is athletic and strong. Known for his run blocking, he’d fit right into the current Minnesota scheme. In recent mock drafts, Scherff has gone anywhere from as high as #5 to as low as #17.

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If it were up to me, I’d cheat a little bit and do a combination of all options. This is the most likely plan for Rick Spielman and the Vikings to some extent. Yankey is a second year player so they will for sure retain him, Berger has swing man value and is your backup center so re-signing him seems like a no brainer as well. There’s your in-house move.

It’s too risky to head into the draft without a veteran that you feel is capable of starting at LG for your team. The closer we get to the new league year, the less likely I think it is that the Vikings will splash and go after Iupati or Franklin. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them pick up a second, even third tier free agent here to lend some stability.

Then, depending on how things fall throughout the draft, I would strive to address a different need in the first round while sitting on La’el Collins (LSU) or Cameron Erving (FSU) early in the second, maybe even trade up for them. Both are currently grading out as second-round prospects and both have long-term starter potential.

Whatever I do here, I don’t want to make it seem like the new LG has some big shoes to fill. Realistically, seeing the output that Johnson was delivering the past two seasons leave either of the two outside options to provide likely improvement along the offensive line. Cutting ties with Johnson was the right move, now go double up on it and make another good decision on his replacement.

What’s your preference on replacing Charlie Johnson at left guard? Let us know in the comment section below...

Follow Aj Mansour (@AjKFAN) on Twitter for more...

VikesCentric: Top 5 Vikings draft picks—third round

Posted by: Joe Oberle Updated: February 27, 2015 - 10:43 AM

The second installment in our series on Vikings draft picks takes a look at the Top 5 third round picks in team history. There are some memorable names on our list, and here’s hoping the Vikings hit some picks like these players in the 2015 NFL Draft.

The pickings are a bit slim in this round in Vikings history, but the names at the top don’t disappoint. In the 54 years of Vikings drafts, there are 15 years in which the team did not have a third round pick (although there were other years where they had more than one third rounder—most recently last year with Scott Crichton and Jerick McKinnon).

The third round has been a position of trading for the Vikings—both into it and out of it over the years (in 1985 the team had three third round picks), and general manager Rick Spielman is no stranger to draft-day trades. But some decent careers have come from third round picks for the Vikings, so let’s take a look.

Several players who didn’t make our Top 5 include WR Nate Burleson (2003), RB Moe Williams (1996), LB Carlos Jenkins (1991) and LB Don Hansen (1966). Perhaps McKinnon and Josh Robinson (2012) still have a chance to squeeze into the list someday, but making the cut amongst this group will be tough.

No. 5: Jake Reed—Wide Receiver—3rd Round (pick 68), 1991

A former member of the famed Three Deep receiving corps of the Vikings teams of the 90s (with Cris Carter and Randy Moss), Reed was the lesser celebrated member of the group. Carter and Moss got the headlines, but Reed generally got the single coverage and made the most of it in his 10 seasons in Minnesota (he had two seasons in New Orleans). Reed was taken three picks behind Carlos Jenkins in 1991, and he caught 33 of his 36 career touchdown passes in a Vikings uniform. His production really hammers home the point of the need for and the production available to a third wide receiver—even on a team with two future Hall of Famers.

No. 4: Kirk Lowdermilk—Center—3rd Round (pick 59), 1985

The Vikings have always seemed to identify good centers—from Matt Birk and John Sullivan to Mick Tingelhoff, who will be going into the Hall of Fame this summer. Lowdermilk was another one in that lineage. The first of three third-round picks in 1985 (LB Tim Meamber and C Tim Long were the other two), “Milk” was clearly the best. He anchored the offensive line for eight seasons in Minnesota (before going to Indianapolis), missing just 14 games in his 12-year career. Lowdermilk garnered an AP honorable mention All-Pro nomination in 1988, despite missing four games with a broken right thumb that year.

No. 3: Tim Irwin—Offensive Tackle—3rd Round (pick 74), 1981

I remember seeing Irwin standing in the doorway of the training camp locker room heading out to the practice field in Mankato one summer and I never saw anyone completely fill up a space like that before or since. At 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, Irwin was a mountain of a right tackle and held that position for 13 years in Minnesota—starting 181 consecutive games. His size helped him on special teams also, where he had ten blocked kicks in his career (including a Vikings record-tying two blocks in one game), placing him third on the Vikings all-time list. Irwin played one last season for Miami and Tampa and then retired to take up a career as a lawyer. He might strike an intimidating figure for those on the other side of the courtroom from him—just like when defenders were on the other side of the line of scrimmage. In 2010, Irwin was named one of the 50 Greatest Vikings.

No. 2: Henry Thomas—Defensive Tackle—3rd Round (pick 72), 1987

Thomas was the unsung defensive line hero playing alongside the always attention grabbing (and opponent tackling) John Randle (who was undrafted and made it to the Hall of Fame). Thomas was a solid and tough interior defensive lineman who played eight years with the Vikings—starting all eight seasons. Thomas helped anchor a very tough defense, and with 93.5 sacks in his career, only Hall of Famers Randle and Warren Sapp, along with Steve McMichael, rank ahead of him in career sacks by a defensive tackle. Thomas was twice a Pro Bowler and he tallied 19 forced fumbles and accumulated more than 1,000 tackles in his 14-year career. He also was named one of the 50 Greatest Vikings.

No. 1: Fran Tarkenton—Quarterback—3rd Round (pick 29), 1961

There is little unknown about the career of this Hall of Fame Vikings quarterback, who led his team to three Super Bowls and held a lot of the NFL’s passing records before the rules changed and turned the game into a throwing league. The scrambling Tarkenton was a star right out of the gate, as came off the bench in the franchise’s 1st-ever game to throw four touchdown passes and lead the club to an upset victory over the Chicago Bears. Tarkenton is certainly one of the 50 Greatest Vikings, is a member of the Vikings Ring of Honor and is far and away one of the best draft choices in team history. If the Vikings could only do that again in the 2015 NFL Draft.

VikesCentric: Vikings should keep Cassel

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: February 25, 2015 - 9:28 AM

This just in: the quarterback position is fairly important in today’s NFL. The Vikings are apparently well-situated with Teddy Bridgewater as the starter, but they would also be wise to retain his backup, Matt Cassel, who has one year remaining on his contract.

You’ll remember it was Cassel, not Bridgewater, who opened the 2014 season under center as the Vikings’ starter. However, he broke three bones in his foot during the Week 3 game against the New Orleans Saints and needed season-ending surgery to repair the damage.

Enter Teddy. The rest, as they say, is Vikings history.

Cassel is set to earn a $500,000 roster bonus on March 17 and a $4.15 million base salary in 2015. His salary cap hit will be $4.75 million. That’s a reasonable bargain for a starter in today’s NFL, but it’s kind of pricy for a backup. Thus, there has been speculation that the Vikings might consider letting Cassel go and using that money elsewhere.

I firmly believe that would be a mistake.

Ask any Vikings fan and they will tell you they fervently hope Cassel never plays another regular-season down with the Vikings. Nothing against Matt. By all accounts he is a tremendous guy, and he showed last year that he can still be a serviceable NFL quarterback. It’s just that Bridgewater is the new toast of the town in Vikings nation. However, if (God forbid) something were to happen to Bridgewater… then what?

Last year, the backup plan after Cassel was placed on IR was Christian Ponder; however, Ponder is going to jump into unrestricted free agency in about two weeks. Cassel is the only other quarterback on the Vikings’ active roster. For the record, they also have Pat Devlin stashed on the practice squad. That’s it, folks.

I think all Vikings fans would sleep a little better at night knowing Cassel is the backup plan to Bridgewater. The alternatives are alarming.

Case in point, free agency. Ponder will arguably be one of the top-five quarterbacks on the free agent market. Think about that for a second. That should tell you all you really need to know about what’s going to be available in terms of signal callers come March 10. Heck, if Cassel were released by the Vikings, he’d be snapped up immediately.

The other “top quarterbacks” set to hit free agency include Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker, Michael Vick, Ryan Mallett, Matt Flynn, Colt McCoy, Brian Hoyer and, oh yeah, Tarvaris Jackson. You remember him, right? He served as the Seahawks’ designated coin-flip winner in 2014. He was good at it, too.

Josh McCown, who was let go by the Buccaneers two weeks ago, is a free agent right now and is currently being courted by several NFL teams, including the Bills and new-look Browns. When the likes of McCown and Sanchez represent the cream of the quarterback crop in free agency, you know it’s a thin group.

Tell me, would you feel better with Cassel, who already knows the Norv Turner offense inside and out, holding the clipboard on the Vikings’ sideline next season -- or does a free agent like Jimmy Clausen or Blaine Gabbert do something for you?

Furthermore, this year’s quarterback draft class is shaping up as the thinnest since 2011 when Cam Newton went No. 1, followed by 2015 free agents Locker at eight, Gabbert at 10 and Ponder at 12. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will be top-10 picks but there might not be another quarterback selected until the second or third round when the likes of Bryce Petty or Brett Hundley come off the board. Besides, the Vikings aren’t going to spend a high pick on a quarterback two years in a row – who do you think they are, the Browns?

In short, it’s not a good offseason to need a quarterback. And remember, the Vikings need to find a third quarterback somewhere, too.

If I’m Rick Spielman, I gladly keep Cassel in the fold. Bridgewater and Cassel together will only cost a little over $6 million against the cap next season – or roughly a third of what Matthew Stafford alone will cost the Lions.

Cassel represents the best the Vikings can hope for in terms of a Bridgewater insurance policy for 2015.
 

Visit VikingsJournal.com for a look at who the Vikings should be targeting in free agency and complete NFL Draft coverage.

Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData, head writer at VikingsJournal.com, co-host of the Fantasy Football Pants Party at 1500ESPN.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.

You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: Top 5 Vikings draft picks—later rounds (4-20)

Posted by: Joe Oberle Updated: February 26, 2015 - 9:38 AM

The NFL Draft is on the way. The NFL Combine is over and free agency is around the corner, but plenty of fans are thinking about the Draft, which takes place at the end of April. Despite the run-up of anticipation, the draft can be a crapshoot of hits and misses, so now may be a good time to look at some of the hits in Vikings Draft history.

The Vikings have been drafting players since 1961, and considering that the draft had 20 rounds until 1967 (then 17, changing to 12 in 1977 and finally seven in 1993), that’s a lot of players. They are more misses than hits throughout those years.

It stands to reason that NFL teams need to do better in the Draft now since there are only seven rounds (leaving many players undrafted and picked up later), but that is not always the case. Names such as Kendall James (2014), Everett Dawkins (2013), Greg Childs (2012) and Ross Harmon (2011) are already fading into unremarkable Vikings lore.

Those players don’t make much to write about since they have a total of one game played for Minnesota amongst the lot of them. Rather, we’d like to look at the Top 5 Draft Picks in various rounds throughout the history of Vikings drafts. Taking a cue from how the draft now operates, with rounds 4-7 on day three of each draft, we will start with the later rounds (4-20) in this first part of the series and work up to 3rd rounders, 2nd and then finish with first round picks.

As one might expect, there have been a lot of players taken in those collective later rounds through the years, but as we said, plenty who are forgettable. This is certainly a subjective exercise since these are my selections for the Top 5, but they are offered up for agreement, rejection and most assuredly debate.

And while I was around when the Vikings first drafted in 1961, I won’t admit to being of an age where I was constructing my own mock drafts at that time and wildly cheering when I heard that Minnesota selected Tommy Mason with their first-ever draft choice. I clued into the team a few years later, but did see every player whom I am about to write about perform in games--and even practice in Mankato. Does that make an official arbiter? No. But I have been paying attention.

That said, in my first run through, I considered 24 players from rounds 4-20 (I wrote down Dave Winfield, who was taken in the 17th round of the 1973 draft, just for the fun of it and because he was a Hall of Famer—as a baseball player—who played in Minnesota. But he didn’t make the cut.) From those 23 players, I whittled it down to my Top 5. Let me know what you think.

No. 5: Brad Johnson—Quarterback—9th Round (pick 227), 1992

Johnson never took the Vikings to the Promised Land, but he does have a ring. He had a pretty decent career for a 9th-round selection; unfortunately not all of it was played with the Vikings. Johnson spent seven of his 15 seasons as a Viking (in two different stints) and led them to the playoffs twice. Johnson played for the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bucs and the Dallas Cowboys, in addition to the Minnesota, winning the Super Bowl with the Bucs in 2002-03. He could have potentially contributed more to the Vikings, as he sat on the bench for his first two seasons in Minnesota, waiting for a chance to play. Ultimately, Johnson was a bit of a journeyman, but his talent was vindicated throughout his career, and he was certainly a decent selection by the Vikings.

No. 4: Bobby Bryant—Defensive Back—7th Round (pick 167), 1967

Back in the days when players finished their whole career with one team, Bryant played his entire 13-year career in Minnesota. Undersized at 6-1, 170 pounds, he was a stalwart for Bud Grant’s teams in the 70s, making the Pro Bowl in 1975 and 1976. Never a big hitter, Bryant did have a nose for the football and was a good playmaker. Bryant had 51 interceptions, which lands him at T-32 on the all-time NFL list. He was also part of one of my all-time favorite plays that I witnessed in person--a memorable field goal block-six against the Los Angeles Rams in the 1976 NFC Championship game at Met Stadium. The Rams were marching in for a field goal, when Nate Allen blocked it and Bryant scooped it up for a 90-yard TD (one of two playoff touchdowns in his career). The play led to a win and the Vikings last Super Bowl appearance.

No. 3: Roy Winston—Linebacker—4th Round (pick 45), 1962

The highest selection in this grouping, 4th-rounder Winston had a long and successful career, playing for Minnesota for 15 years and not starting only the first and the last. Winston was a hard-hitting linebacker, who even Larry Csonka said hit him the hardest he was ever hit in the game. Winston played 190 games for the Vikings, which tied him for 10th in team history, and he collected more than 100 tackles in a season three times. He is one of the few Vikings who played in all four of the team’s Super Bowl losses, retiring after the fourth one in 1977. Asked by Viking Update about his favorite memory as a Viking, Winston said, “At San Francisco in 1964. It was the game Jim Marshall ran the wrong way. I had three interceptions that game and no one knows. Three interceptions for a linebacker is pretty good.” And pretty good for a fourth-round pick.

No. 2: Scott Studwell—Linebacker—9th Round (pick 250), 1977

A member of the Vikings Ring of Honor (inducted in 2009), Studwell was the consummate Viking, embodying the intensity and work ethic of a former member of the famed Vikings defense. The Vikings all-time leading tackler with 1,981 in his career, he holds team records for single-season tackles with 230 in 1981 and 24 in a game against Detroit in 1985. Studwell is one of only one Viking who has played 200 games for the team and he appeared in two Pro Bowls (1987 and 1988). Now as a college scout/regional in the front office, Studwell has worked for the Vikings for 39 years all tolled. He is a Viking for life, and was incredible steel in the 9th round of the draft.

No. 1: Matt Birk—Center—6th Round (pick 173), 1998

Looking back on Birk’s career, it’s hard to imagine him not going higher than the 6th round. He was a leader of the Vikings offensive line for 10 of his 14 years in the league--playing four with the Baltimore Ravens and finally winning a Super Bowl ring in 2012, after which he retired. Birk was a Pro Bowler six times and the 2011 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. A home-grown product from Cretin-Derham Hall, Birk was seemingly on the down side of his career when he left Minnesota for Baltimore, but he was rewarded with being a part of an NFL title team. One of the best centers the team has ever had, Birk was somehow selected behind Kailee Wong, Ramos McDonald, Kivuusama Mays and Kerry Cooks (oh, and first-rounder Randy Moss) in the 1998 draft. The Vikings were lucky he was still there.

There are others who received consideration in this collection: RB Terry Allen (5th round, 1990), DB Carl Lee (7th round, 1983), TE Steve Jordan (7th round, 1982), DB Ed Sharockman (5th round, 1961) and LB Pete Bercich (7th round, 1994). And some that could still change things up: Everson Griffen (4th round, 2010), Brandon Fusco (6th round, 2011) and Blair Walsh (6th round, 2012). But time will have to tell on them.

What say you?

VikesCentric: PART TWO - The 5 Most Overrated Vikings Players

Posted by: AJ Mansour Updated: February 23, 2015 - 12:17 PM

After Adrian Peterson knocked us off track over the weekend, today we jump back on course and finish off our two part series. Last week, we dove in and discussed some of The Most Underrated Players on roster with the Minnesota Vikings. Today, we round it out with The Most Overrated Minnesota Vikings Players.

Again, the term “overrated” can mean a few different things. It can be a player that is being overpaid and not living up to their billing. It could be a player that receives unwarranted praise from the front office. And it could be a player who sells tons of jerseys and is a fan favorite while not producing on the field. It’s up to interpretation, so if you disagree, please jump on in the comments section below and plead your case!

Brian Robison, 8th season out of Texas:
Hands down one of the nicest guys on the Minnesota Vikings roster, one year into a 4-year $22.4MM contract, Brian is not living up to the billing. Credited with 4.5 sacks and only 17 solo tackles in 2014, B-Rob didn’t serve as much more than the experienced vet for this team last year. 2014 was the first year without Jared Allen on the other end of the line and Robison seemed to miss his former cohort. In what would become his worst season since becoming a starter, Robison left a lot to be desired and may have gone as far as pushing the Vikings out into the market for a defensive end during the offseason. They’ll already be looking to replace Corey Wootten, might as well grab a guy with starting potential and push Brian a little bit.

Blair Walsh, 3rd season out of Georgia:
Once thought to have been the cream of the crop, something has gone amiss with Blair Walsh. Finishing the season, 26 of 35 kicking field goals, Walsh’s 74.3% was good enough to finish 34th in the league for field goal accuracy. Mainly struggling from 50+, Blair kicked 5 for 9 from a distance that was once his forte. It wasn’t just the field goal game that was a struggle for Blair last season. With 48 touchbacks, Walsh finished 9th in the league last season. His average kickoff distance 68.2 yards was bottom half of the league, his average starting point of the 21.9 yard line, also bottom half of the league, and his max hang time of 4.55 seconds...also bottom half of the league. He’s still on his rookie contract, so the dollars are not hurting the Vikings yet, but something has gone amiss with the kicker.

Matt Kalil, 3rd season out of USC:
Overpaid, underperforming and disinterested...should we leave it at that? Finishing the season as the 81st ranked tackle across the league, Kalil admittedly had a down season. Recovering from a knee injury, losing focus on the field and allowing his frustration boil over, Kalil had such a bad season that there is a legitimate concern that the Vikings will need to start looking for a replacement in the near future. To his credit, Kalil is better when he pulls for a run play, but my oh my, his pass protection in 2014 was hideous. Your turn, go ahead and pile on...

Phil Loadholt, 6th season out of Oklahoma:
Benefitting from all the negative attention paid towards Kalil, Loadholt skated under the radar for most of the season before bowing out in November with a torn pectoral. In the 732 snaps that he did play, Loadholt struggled to contain edge rushers utilizing speed around the corner. While the performance was sub-par, couple that with a nearly $7MM cap hit and you have a position where the angst of the fans will reside.

Cordarrelle Patterson, 2nd season out of Tennessee:
So...now it’s time for Cordarrelle. A stretch from the get go, Cordarrelle came out of the gates hot as a rookie, mainly having an impact on special teams but finding a niche role within the offense as well. 2014 was a much different season, to the point where by the end of the season he was a reserve receiver. Patterson was given an offseason plan from the head coach to get with a mentor and work through some of the hurdles that he faced last season. Last week, head coach Mike Zimmer chatted with KFAN’s Paul Allen and didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement for Patterson’s offseason efforts. In fact, it almost read as if CP has not connected with the suggested mentor but it utilizing his own efforts instead. Whatever the case, Patterson needs to figure out how to be a wide receiver and fast or he’s going to be out of the league sooner rather than later. A fantastic physical talent, Cordarrelle needs to figure it out between the ears if he wants to retain his first-round value and land a pay-day in the future.

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Well, there’s my list. Did I miss anybody? Do you wholeheartedly disagree with me? Throw it in the comments below and let me know what you think. While you’re at it, hop on over to Part One: The 5 Most Underrated Vikings Players and see what you think of that.

 

VikesCentric: The 5 Most Likely Landing Spots For Adrian Peterson

Posted by: AJ Mansour Updated: February 21, 2015 - 9:01 AM

It was just over a week ago that I sat here and wrote an article for Vikings Journal that laid out the chances that Adrian Peterson would be back with the Vikings at better than 50/50. We spent a week going over different aspects of bringing him back and tried our best to determine if it was worth bringing him back. Well, things have changed.

With the release of Ben Goessling’s ESPN.com article on Thursday evening, it’s looking less and less likely that Adrian will be back with the team come opening weekend 2015.

Still feeling as though Minnesota has wronged him and that the Vikings have wronged him through this trial, Peterson was very open about his uneasiness with returning to the Vikings.

Good riddance.

After all that this has put the organization, the fans, AND YOUR SON through, stop playing the victim Adrian.

Anyways, on the surface, the tide has changed and it’s looking like Adrian will not be donning the Minnesota purple next season. I’m hearing through the backchannels the same things and that the team is testing the waters to see who’s interested in a trade. One way or another, the Vikings will attempt to move Adrian Peterson. The question now is, how can they maximize his value.

He’s still arguably the best running back in the league. He’ll have a year less of wear and tear on his body compared to most 30-year old backs. But how much is he realistically worth? As most trades in the NFL do, it will likely contain future draft picks rather than current players. You’re likely to have some interested buyers out there dangling a 2nd round pick in front of your nose, but I believe you can get more. I believe that you can find a team that thinks they are a running back away from a championship and leverage the situation. Leverage the fact that AP is a former MVP. Leverage the fact that he still runs with a full head of steam. Leverage all of it. It might be less likely, but it’s not outlandish to think that if you cover a portion of the cap hit, you could get a 1st and 4th round pick in return for Adrian Peterson.

But who are those teams? Who are the squads that think Adrian Peterson may be the missing piece to their Super Bowl puzzle? Below I’ve outlined five options, five teams that should have interest in Adrian Peterson. And if they don’t, the Vikings should be picking up the phone and doing their best to convince them that they do.

Dallas Cowboys
We’ll get the most obvious out of the way first. It’s a perfect fit for the team and the player, but is Peterson to Dallas too good to be true? The Cowboys are still leary of acting on Demarco Murray but would they be willing to splash a little bit with Peterson? He’s more accomplished, he’s more talented, the only knock on AP compared to Murray is the age. If Peterson agrees to a slight pay cut and the Vikings cover a portion of the hit, Peterson could sport the silver and blue and return home to play for his childhood squad. Tony Romo gets a slight upgrade at the running back spot, Jerry Jones sells a bazillion jerseys and tickets and Peterson gets to make a run at a Super Bowl immediately. Seems like a perfect match.

Seattle Seahawks
The next most likely landing spot appears to be the Seattle Seahawks. Why? Because it legitimately looks like Marshawn Lynch is considering retirement...or at the very least testing the free agent market. But this retirement thing, he’s not joking about that either. So if Lynch goes the way of Barry Sanders, there’s another void at the running back spot for a team that is interested in contending for a Super Bowl next year. They’d have to find a way to come up with the money because while Lynch would clear some cap space, they also have to fork over some dough to quarterback Russell Wilson this summer. The pipeline between Minnesota and Seattle is already greased and the phones are still fresh. Peterson has no ties to the upper northwest outside of former offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, but the lure of Lombardi might be enough to make the decision a little easier.

Indianapolis Colts
How about Indy! The NFL world has been converging upon the city this past week so let’s not forget to include them here as well. Another team lacking any semblance of a rushing attack last season, the Colts should be convinced by now that Trent Richardson is not the answer. Stuck in a position where they don’t want to waste the prime years of Andrew Luck’s career, the Colts might believe they are a running back away from making a deep run. In reality, they are a cornerback, two linebackers and a defensive line away from making that run, but this isn’t ColtsJournal.com so we’ll leave that alone for now. The Colts will have somewhere in the ballpark of $35 million to work with in cap space, so make a bid. You can handle the contract as is and Peterson could help you get that edge over Brady that you didn’t have in the AFC Championship game this year...that slight, slight 38-point edge.

Arizona Cardinals
Maybe the dark-horse amongst this group, the Arizona Cardinals. Quite the opposite approach from Indy, the Cardinals have a dominant defense with a piece-mailed offensive unit hanging on the thread of an ACL that Carson Palmer has left. That said, if Palmer stays healthy, Arizona has proven that they can compete. Bringing in Peterson would take a little pressure off the injury-prone QB and should open up the rest of the offense as well. The Cardinals made it to the playoffs this season with their third-string QB...Adrian could help this team and could do it immediately.

San Diego Chargers
Now for the off-the-wall, stab in the dark pick. The San Diego Chargers. Normally competitive in the AFC West division, the Chargers organization is not unfamiliar with the impact that a dominant running back can have on the game. It’s time for the Ryan Mathews experiment to end and maybe time for the Adrian Peterson experiment to begin?!? Picking 17th overall, the Chargers could wait and take a stab at Melvin Gordon but will he be ready to contribute right away? I know someone who will, Adrian Peterson. Flip that pick to the Vikings, get a running back that can play right away and utilize that pairing with Philip Rivers while he’s still effective.

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From the Vikings perspective, which option would be best? With none of the teams listed above currently holding multiple first round picks, you have to look at the Chargers as holding the most benefit for the Vikings simply because they pick at 17. The Cardinals pick 24th, Cowboys 27th, Colts 29th and Seahawks 31st. Realistically though, if any of these teams is willing to dish out their first round pick couple with a 3rd, but more likely a 4th, run to the bank Minnesota. Take the bait, take the trade, take the cap reprieve and move on.

It appears that Adrian Peterson already has...

 

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