The Vikings achieved their No. 1 goal in free agency moments before the market even opened.
Reaching a multiyear deal with starting right tackle Phil Loadholt on Tuesday solidified a promising young offensive line for years to come while denying NFC North rival Chicago the chance to swoop in and grab a player they had targeted to upgrade one of the league’s worst offensive lines in recent seasons.
“We’re very excited,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said. “We drafted Phil [in the second round in 2009], and he’s really developed into a player. We feel he is a key part of our offensive line.”
The 6-8, 343-pounder also is 27 years old and durable, having started all but one game in his four NFL seasons. Last year, the Vikings started the same five players at the same five spots in all 17 games. And the oldest player is 28-year-old left guard Charlie Johnson.
“The goal,” said Spielman, “was to keep that line together to create that continuity for as long as we can.”
Harvin deal ‘too good’
Spielman said Monday’s trade that sent mercurial receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle “came really quick” and “was too good to pass up for us to move forward as an organization … to have long-term success for years to come.”
The Vikings got a first-round pick (25th overall) and a seventh-round pick this year and a third-round pick next year. Meanwhile, Harvin has 67 million reasons to be happy again. He reportedly got a six-year deal that averages $11.2 million a year.
“We weren’t out there actively shopping Percy,” Spielman said. “It was something that was basically approached to us.”
Felton gets his wish
The Vikings and fullback Jerome Felton knew a good thing when they saw it, so they went ahead and re-signed with each other for $7.5 million over three years.
Felton, 26, spent four nondescript seasons in Detroit and Carolina before joining the Vikings with a one-year “prove-it” deal in 2012. Consider him proven. Felton went to his first Pro Bowl while blocking for a guy — Adrian Peterson — who won NFL Most Valuable Player.
Four more in the fold
The Vikings’ list of 10 unrestricted free agents was cut to four on the first day of free agency as four more players — receiver Jerome Simpson, center/guard Joe Berger, safety/special teams standout Jamarca Sanford and starting linebacker Erin Henderson — all re-signed.
Re-signing Simpson to a one-year deal was the first step in trying to replenish a ridiculously bare receiving corps. His 97 career catches, including 26 in 2012, are 68 more than the combined total of the rest of team’s current crop of receivers.
Henderson, who signed a one-year deal a year ago, signed for two years this time. Vikings free agents still unsigned are linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Marvin Mitchell, guard Geoff Schwartz and receiver Devin Aromashodu.
Talking to Peterson
No one vented more frustration over the Harvin trade via Twitter than the very face of the franchise. Spielman said he and coach Leslie Frazier both have spoken to Peterson.
“I understand the players’ [frustration] because these guys are out there battling every Sunday with each other,” Spielman said. “These are decisions that are very, very tough.”
Asked if any of these recent moves prevent the Vikings from competing for a playoff berth this year, Spielman said, “We think we’re going to compete [in 2013], there’s no doubt about that.”