Isn’t it amazing how the entire vibe of a free agency period can completely change in the span of one day? For the first 72 hours of free agency, the Vikings seemingly sat on their hands. Re-sign a couple of your own guys here, fill a void at backup quarterback there and let the rest of the league go wild. Then, out of the blue on a Friday night, Rick Spielman yells, “CANNONBALL” and completely changes the outlook of almost everything.
That was yesterday. Relatively quiet up to that point, the Vikings made a splash which sent ripples throughout the league on Friday night acquiring WR Mike Wallace and a 7th round pick from the Miami Dolphins for a 5th rounder.
If the trade sent ripples throughout the league, it sent a ten foot swell through the rest of the Vikings plans going forward. With one move, Spielman changes the trajectory of this team into the rest of free agency, the draft and then into the regular season.
Now, I don’t mean to make it seem as landing Wallace is like landing Moss of Rice in their prime. Afterall, he was only worth a 5th round pick to the Dolphins. But the ripple effect of Mike Wallace landing in Minnesota has not been completely felt yet and from what I can figure now, it’s going to be wide stretching.
Draft Strategy Shifts:
With the acquisition of a big name, speedy wide receiver, we can start to see the Vikings draft strategy with the 11th pick take shape a little bit. Following the tried and true, “take the best player on the board” theory, it doesn’t completely rule the Vikings out of drafting one of the high end wide receivers that could fall to #11, but it opens the door for other possibilities to become more of a reality.
Filling needs through free agency at the skill positions allows the Vikings to focus the draft on the core of their team, the offensive line and defense, which is exactly what you want to do. Look for the Vikings to walk away from that first round pick with someone to fill a void on the offensive line or maybe a linebacker or cornerback for defense. The name that continuously falls to Minnesota in many of the mocks is Brandon Scherff, the consensus best guard in this year’s draft.
If for some reason, Cooper or White are still on the board at #11 for the wide receivers, don’t be surprised if Rick leverages that position to trade back a little bit and acquire more picks for later.
Adrian Peterson Approach:
It’s yet to be seen exactly how the trade for Wallace will impact how the Adrian Peterson situation ultimately plays out, but adding talented skill players to an offense that at some times last year looked stale can only help.
Hundreds of fans and people who follow the team have already reached out to Wallace via Twitter encouraging him to reach out to Peterson and start bridging the gap that may remain.
Adding a dynamic player will obviously not change all of the issues that Adrian and his family have with the current team and the fan base in Minnesota, but when dealing with a competitor the level of Adrian Peterson, sometimes an influx of talent can heal wounds that words previously could not.
From the Vikings perspective, the pair of Peterson and Wallace will not demand $25.3MM of the cap (roughly 17.6% of the total cap) in 2015 and a whopping $26.5MM (2016) and $28.5MM (2017) into the future. That said, if you’re going to spend that type of money, those skill positions are where it’s generally thought to be okay to do so...as long as the return is somewhere in the neighborhood of the cost.
Offensive Gameplan Changes:
One of the downsides of last year’s offense was the lack of downfield threat, that was until the previously unknown Charles Johnson splashed onto the scene and helped Teddy open up the Vikings offense.
Now, in addition to what Charles Johnson can bring to the fold, the Vikings add a guy who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds, averages 15.6 yards per catch throughout his career and has landed in the endzone a total of 47 times in his six year career.
This sort of outside speed should open up things for Teddy and the Vikings offense from the passing game to the run game. You can’t underestimate the value that a legitimate deep threat can bring to a team on the offensive side of the ball.
In addition to Wallace’s impact on the offense as a whole, it may have a particularly strong impact on third year wideout, Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson crumbled under the pressure of filling in as the team’s #1 wide receiver last season and ultimately found himself benched half way through the year. A little extra work during the offseason and a little less attention with Wallace on the other side of the field and the hope is that this trade will allow Cordarrelle to have a bounceback season in 2015.
Cordarrelle has reportedly been working with his secret mentor during the off months and will soon join Teddy Bridgewater in Miami for individual offseason workouts. The hope is, that after an embarrassing sophomore season, the talented wide receiver will get a wake up call to take his job a little more seriously and come back ready to roll. This trade should help his cause.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side to this trade that belongs in this conversation as well. Wallace has always been known to be a bit of a head case and that was on full display during week 17 of the 2014 season as the wide receiver was benched for the final half of the game after a run in with the coaches. I wouldn’t say that having a guy like that ever helps a team, but if there’s a locker room around the league that could use a little uptick in attitude, and with it an uptick in swagger, it might be the Vikings locker room.
Regardless of the baggage that could be joining Wallace in Minnesota, there appears to be more positives than negatives for the Vikings after making this deal. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out, but as we sit today, this is a step in the right direction for your favorite franchise.