Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman met with 10 local reporters Friday at Winter Park, addressing everything from the Percy Harvin trade rumors to the 2014 option the team exercised on Leslie Frazier’s contract to the ongoing preparations for next week’s NFL Combine. Here are the top four highlights from that session.
1. So, will the Vikings really entertain trade offers for Harvin as has been speculated on a grand level for the past week?
Spielman grinned at that question.
“We have no intent of trading Percy Harvin,” he said. “Percy Harvin is under contract and we expect him, just like all of our players under contract, to be here.”
Case closed, right?
Well … Not exactly.
In the next breath, Spielman was asked if his intent with Harvin and his course of action could ultimately differ. In other words, while the Vikings may say they have no intent of dealing Harvin away, does that mean they won’t pull the trigger if a good offer comes their way?
That question made the Vikings GM dance a little more.
“Again, there is no intent to trade Percy Harvin,” Spielman said. “He is a very good football player. I’m not going to talk about any contractual issues because those are kept internal.”
As Harvin’s contractual issues go, he’s due to make $2.9 million in 2013, the final year of his rookie contract. He’s also seeking a long-term extension, an option the Vikings will certainly explore. But it remains to be seen whether the team and their mercurial playmaker will see eye-to-eye on the price tag of that extension. And as we’ve said all along, the whole Harvin-Vikings relationship has so many moving parts right now that it’s too early and too difficult to forecast a final resolution right now.
Further complicating things are all the varying reports and rumors that continue surfacing nationally on Harvin’s status.
At this point, in the always hyper-active world of NFL media, where it seems news has to be made every day, it’s a challenge to filter through rumors for reality.
Spielman’s take on all the wild chatter out there?
“There’s so much stuff flying out there this time of year that comes from everywhere,” he said. “I know where we stand and with the people in this organization, it’s a very close circle on what gets out. And so I sit there and look at some of the stuff. But I would just say don’t believe all the half-truths or the rumors or the no-truths that are out there because there is so much stuff that flies around. … Ya know, it’s great reading.”
Spielman said it would be too time-consuming and ultimately futile to try and keep up with all the innuendo flying around.
“You can’t just come out there and clarify every half-truth and every no-truth because there’s so much that goes on at this time of year. … That’s today’s age and the Internet and the social media and everything like that. So I understand that’s a part of the deal.”
So, yeah. Let this stand as a reminder to everyone to just take a breath and calm down on the Harvin story until something new actually happens.
2. The Vikings insist they are fully behind Frazier as the head coach to continue leading them upward on a chase for a championship.
That support has been very real and very genuine throughout the organization. Until this week when the Vikings announced they had picked up the 2014 option on Frazier’s contract but hadn’t offered a longer-term extension. In fact, Frazier’s agent Bob Lamonte said he had never heard from Vikings ownership to even begin negotiating a longer-term deal.
Is that a major slap in the face? No. Does it add a bit of awkwardness to things? Absolutely.
From a business standpoint, it’s understandable why the Vikings would take a wait-and-see approach with Frazier’s contract, especially after getting burned by the extension they gave to Brad Childress in November 2009. Just as it would have been premature to fire Frazier after the 3-13 faceplant in 2011, it probably would have been premature to go all-in on the talented head coach after the Vikings’ 10-6 march and return to the 2012 playoffs.
“Leslie has done an outstanding job here,” Spielman reiterated Friday. “He’s been a great leader of the men down in the locker room. We expect him to be our coach for a long time. He’s been outstanding at everything from leadership to development of young players, everything we’re doing. We’re just looking forward to getting ready for next year and anything from a contractual standpoint or anything like that will always be held internal, just like players. … There’s no question of the support that our ownership group, myself, I think our whole organization has for Leslie Frazier.”
Spielman was asked Friday whether the contract issue could become a point of contention between the head coach and the powers above him.
“No. Not with Leslie Frazier,” he said. “I don’t want to put words [in his mouth]. But with Leslie Frazier you know what type of character and what type of person he is and what he stands for.”
Understand this: This is by no means any sort of significant controversy. Just more of a peculiar offseason footnote.
Moving on …
3. The Vikings currently have nine draft picks in their stockpile for April.
Last month, the team announced it had only eight selections. But after some confusion on whether they would have to relinquish a sixth-rounder to Washington in connection with the Donovan McNabb trade in 2011, the Vikings have been informed by the league that that pick remains theirs.
So, Spielman rubber-stamped the selections for the Vikings. They currently have a pick in every round and two selections in both the fourth and seventh rounds.
4. Spielman is giddy about the opportunities the combine provides to further the team’s evaluations on so many draft prospects.
The GM’s explanation of his eagerness was forthright.
"It's probably the biggest event heading into the draft,” he said. “It's the first time you're going to get all the Olympic numbers on these guys: the height, weight, speeds, the first time that we'll get in front of a lot of these guys, especially the juniors. We'll get all our medical, our psychological, both areas that we test in those. It's probably my most exciting time besides the day of the draft is going to the combine, because there's so much that you get accomplished there."