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Retaining Phil Loadholt
This was a value move for the Vikings. Nobody is going to accuse Loadholt of being one of the elite right tackles in the league, but not letting him hit the free agent market keeps an offensive line together where the same five players started all sixteen games last season. Let’s not forget that it was a line that enabled Adrian Peterson to come within nine yards of setting the single season rushing record.
Signing Loadholt to a four year, $25 million contract is beyond reasonable. It’s doubtful that he could have got much more money from another team, and it’s unlikely the Vikings could have brought in another free agent for much less.
This move just makes sense.
Cutting Antoine Winfield
Like the Harvin trade, this was also a necessary move for the Vikings to make. There isn’t a Viking fan alive that liked losing Winfield, including Coach Leslie Frazier. This is one of those moves that serves as a reminder that football is not only a game, but a business.
Had the Vikings not released Winfield, they would have been on the hook to him for $7.25 million. He eventually agreed to a one deal with the Seahawks for around $3 million.
It’s mind boggling to think that the Vikings and Winfield couldn’t find a common ground that would have allowed him to eventually announce his retirement in Minneapolis. The leadership that Winfield brought to the team is going to be missed.
Signing Matt Cassell
This year’s crop of free agent quarterbacks was less than lackluster. After Joe Webb’s performance in the playoff game against the Green Bay Packers in January, it was apparent that the Vikings needed to upgrade the back up to Ponder.
Who knows, General Manager Rick Spielman could have made this decision at a dartboard. The dart could have hit Ryan Fitzpatrick or Matt Moore. It could have hit Kevin Kolb or Matt Hasselbeck.
Instead the dart hit Cassell, so the Vikings gave him a one year deal worth $4 million. At least there won’t be a plane flying down to Mississippi to talk a certain quarterback out of retirement.
Retaining Jerome Felton
This was probably the quietest of the Vikings offseason moves, but the most solid. Felton agreed to stay with Vikings for a three year, $7.5 million contract. He will now be one of the highest paid fullbacks in the NFL.
Do his statistics justify that kind of money? Last season he had zero rushing attempts. He had three receptions for 35 yards. Felton has never scored a touchdown in his six year career.
It’s not Felton’s personal statistics that warranted his contract. It’s the 2,097 yards that Peterson rushed for that got Felton paid. He deserves as much credit as the offensive line for Peterson having the near record breaking year that he had.
Felton probably won’t get picked in too many fantasy leagues though.
This analysis gives the Vikings a 2.5 grade point average in the offseason. That kind of GPA certainly won’t get you into Harvard, but it might make you a Nebraska Cornhusker. If the Vikings do well with their two first round draft picks next week they might increase their GPA enough to get into the University of Southern California. If they screw up their draft picks, the GPA will drop and they will only be able to get into an SEC school where grades don’t even matter.