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2021 Off-Season Thread


7-9 with a severely flawed roster over the course of the season. Wilf said Zimmer is coming back, which means Rick Spielman is coming back. As much as I continue to disagree about Zimmer running the show, I’ll stop complaining about it now that a decision was made.

 

We saw some positive things in 2020. Justin Jefferson being the obvious #1 choice. That kid is special, and Philly will be haunted for years knowing they took Reagor instead. We have good playmakers on offense with Cook, Thielen, and Irv Smith Jr. On defense, Eric Kendricks is a stud, and Cam Dantzler looks like he could be an All-Pro caliber player one year.

 

We also saw a ton of negative things in 2020. The defense has a long ways to go to be back to their previous level. We had to play a ton of guys who have no business playing in the NFL. Special teams was a total disaster all year. I have no doubt the coach will be fired as a result. And the OL continues to be a massive burden to the team. We called it before the season started that interior OL was a major question mark, and they had no answer.

 

Here’s some questions to start the offseason:

 

Will Dan Bailey be replaced?

 

Have long time Vikings players Rudolph and Smith played their last game in purple?

 

What other veterans could be a cap casualty?

 

What to do with Danielle Hunter?

 

Should they go all in on Joe Thuney in FA?

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Early plan:

 

Cut Rudolph, Shamar Stephen

Restructure or cut Barr

Restructure Reiff

Re-sign Wilson

 

RFAs: Bring back Beebe, Odenigbo, and Boone

Let Harris walk

 

Hope to god you can get a QB in the draft and you have a few million to play with.  May have to restructure a few guys like Smith and Kendricks.

 

Oh....and see if San Fran really does want Cousins.  I'll take the dead money hit to move on.

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DT, OG..... if they don't fix those, nothing else will matter in 2021.

 

No sense in keeping Rudolph, unless he takes a massive pay cut. Not sure which other vets I want gone, but I'd roll the dice on a cheaper kicker and punter.

 

I'd package Barr and a pick to move up. Like Barr and a third for a second.

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I realize Cousin's is a better than average QB, but they can't seriously go into 2022 with him hitting them with a 45M cap hit can they? Isn't that what will happen if Cousins is still on the team this summer? They can't just keep kicking the can down the road, trying to put off Spielman and Zimmer inevitable firings with mediocre records. Those two would sit back and laugh at the poor saps hired to replace them to rebuild the nuked remains of the organization.

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I realize Cousin's is a better than average QB, but they can't seriously go into 2022 with him hitting them with a 45M cap hit can they? Isn't that what will happen if Cousins is still on the team this summer? They can't just keep kicking the can down the road, trying to put off Spielman and Zimmer inevitable firings with mediocre records. Those two would sit back and laugh at the poor saps hired to replace them to rebuild the nuked remains of the organization.

The $45M cap hit in 2022 is locked in if he's on the roster Day 3 of the 2021 offseason. Their only options to avoid it are to cut him and eat $40M in 2021 (saving $35M in 2022), or extend him even further. Not ideal!

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The $45M cap hit in 2022 is locked in if he's on the roster Day 3 of the 2021 offseason. Their only options to avoid it are to cut him and eat $40M in 2021 (saving $35M in 2022), or extend him even further. Not ideal!

 

Right, that's what I'm saying. They can't seriously commit that kind of cap hit to the 2022 season can they? Wouldn't the lower hit in 2021 be better since they should be rebuilding anyway?

 

I know the answers to my question, I realize they'll keep him and either cripple their payroll in 2022 or do something even dumber like restructure his contract and kill the next decade for an aging QB. I'm just frustrated that they continually exacerbate the future to continually field a team that has next to no chance to be good enough to win today.

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Right, that's what I'm saying. They can't seriously commit that kind of cap hit to the 2022 season can they? Wouldn't the lower hit in 2021 be better since they should be rebuilding anyway?

 

I know the answers to my question, I realize they'll keep him and either cripple their payroll in 2022 or do something even dumber like restructure his contract and kill the next decade for an aging QB. I'm just frustrated that they continually exacerbate the future to continually field a team that has next to no chance to be good enough to win today.

 

Are we sure it is crippling? I'm guessing the cap goes up 10 million between now and 2022....and that Barr and Rudolph and both safeties are gone. That leaves Jefferson and Hunter as extension candidates (not sure you can even do Jefferson then).....maybe one of the CBs.....O'Neill, I guess....but really, I'm not sure most of the roster will be expensive in 2022. 

 

I'm fairly indifferent to next year, as I see almost no chance of them being GREAT.....but not zero chance.

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Are we sure it is crippling? I'm guessing the cap goes up 10 million between now and 2022....and that Barr and Rudolph and both safeties are gone. That leaves Jefferson and Hunter as extension candidates (not sure you can even do Jefferson then).....maybe one of the CBs.....O'Neill, I guess....but really, I'm not sure most of the roster will be expensive in 2022. 

 

I'm fairly indifferent to next year, as I see almost no chance of them being GREAT.....but not zero chance.

 

45M just seems nuts to me. Not a smart football move by some guys who are supposed to be smart about football. 

 

At some point the QB band aid needs to be ripped off, and since I don't want to do this dance every year, I'd prefer it's done ASAP so we can get on with things.

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If Gary retires, I hope there’s a real search, and not just promoting his son to OC.

I disagree. 2021 is do or die for this version of the Vikings (Spielman/Zim/Cousins). The last thing they need is a significant change in the offense. Klint Kubiak is just as qualified as Kyle Shanahan was when he became OC for his dad in Washington. Even more so. And if he's the OC, Gary will likely stay around as a  consultant like he was in 2019, meaning there's really nothing lost.

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The $45M cap hit in 2022 is locked in if he's on the roster Day 3 of the 2021 offseason. Their only options to avoid it are to cut him and eat $40M in 2021 (saving $35M in 2022), or extend him even further. Not ideal!

Edit: Never mind. I see the clause about the 3rd day of the league year making i 2022 guaranteed. Ugh. They really need to trade him if at all possible.

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I disagree. 2021 is do or die for this version of the Vikings (Spielman/Zim/Cousins). The last thing they need is a significant change in the offense. Klint Kubiak is just as qualified as Kyle Shanahan was when he became OC for his dad in Washington. Even more so. And if he's the OC, Gary will likely stay around as a  consultant like he was in 2019, meaning there's really nothing lost.

 

Hasn't it been a do-or-die year for this club each of the past six years? But Spielman has utilized Rob Brzezinski's magical skills of deferment to annually push back the date they need to pay the piper?

 

If anything this ability to delay the inevitable is pretty impressive. However, if they are this good at managing the cap even when there appears little hope of getting anything done, I have to think that if they took one year to reset and wipe the slate clean of albatross contracts, this skill could possibly be utilized for dynasty building moves a year or two from now.

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I disagree. 2021 is do or die for this version of the Vikings (Spielman/Zim/Cousins). The last thing they need is a significant change in the offense. Klint Kubiak is just as qualified as Kyle Shanahan was when he became OC for his dad in Washington. Even more so. And if he's the OC, Gary will likely stay around as a consultant like he was in 2019, meaning there's really nothing lost.

Klint Kubiak does check off some boxes that fans look for in offensive coaches. 31 years young, showing some success working with Kirk Cousins. If it turns out he’s the best candidate for the job, I’ll accept it. It’s just weird that our team is being used as the hypothetical torch passed down from father to son. It would make more sense if Gary built a legacy here, but he’s only been in the organization for 2 years.

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Early offseason plan:

 

OC: I’m not going to pretend to know coaching talent in the NFL/college. In the Zimmer era, we’ve been the most successful with older, former HC types running the offense. Norv had one decent year, Shurmur went on to be a HC, Stefanski grew into a HC candidate under the guidance of Gary Kubiak. So, while the thought of going with the trendy young offensive mind is intriguing, maybe it’s better to go with a more established name. I would love to have someone who’s been successful as an OL coach so we can finally start developing more than 1 player every decade.

 

Kirk Cousins: I would try like hell to trade him within the first 3 days of the new league year. Do I think he will be traded in real life? Sadly, no. And that’s going to be a huge burden in 2022. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try, and I would look for teams that were similar to us when we signed Kirk in 2018. Good defense, solid running game, just missing a QB... like NYG, SF, WAS. Also, teams like PIT, NO and IND who have old QBs bound to retire, and drafting too late to get one of the top QBs.

 

Cuts/restructures: Some tough decisions will need to be made here. Reiff makes the most sense to outright cut, but I am secretly hoping for a restructure/extension. Barr needs to restructure. I think it’s fair to ask Harry the Hitman to restructure. Rudolph and Stephen will most likely be outright releases.

 

Free agency: I’d like to find veteran talent to fill IOL, 3T, CB, WR, and EDGE. Obviously we won’t have a lot of money to work with, so they’ll have to be relative bargains. 3T is pretty weak outside of Leonard Williams. I think with the right combo of old veterans on 1 year deals and other bargains we could head into the draft sitting okay. My targets:

 

Austin Reiter - C Kansas City - better pass blocker than run blocker. Which is desperately needed here.

 

Melvin Ingram- EDGE LAC - A solid veteran to pair with Hunter

 

Matt Feiler - OT Pittsburgh - Swing player for the OL who’s started at RT and LG for Pittsburgh.

 

Mack Alexander - CB - should be extremely cheap this winter.

 

Ndamukong Suh - 3T Tampa - He’s the only intriguing option at our price range. 34 years old.

 

Draft: Since free agency doesn’t offer much in IDL help, I think this is where we need to focus our efforts. Not necessarily with 14 overall, but with our multiple 3rd/4th/6th round picks. As of now, I think the Vikes end up trading back from 14 overall to recoup the lost 2nd round pick and acquire other draft capital along the way.

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I don't understand the rush to see Kubiak gone.  (Not here, but more broadly)  I really hope he stays around.  The offense was really, really good.

 

They need to clean up their 4th down calls, but I thought Kubiak was great as the OC.  The problem this team has is not on offense.  It's the fact that Zimmer needs 11 All-Pros to have a solid bend but don't break defense.  I'm tired of sinking picks into his defense and seeing less than dominant returns.

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I don't understand the rush to see Kubiak gone.  (Not here, but more broadly)  I really hope he stays around.  The offense was really, really good.

 

They need to clean up their 4th down calls, but I thought Kubiak was great as the OC.  The problem this team has is not on offense.  It's the fact that Zimmer needs 11 All-Pros to have a solid bend but don't break defense.  I'm tired of sinking picks into his defense and seeing less than dominant returns.

 

Kubiak has indicated he may retire.....

 

they need better 4th down calls, to stop running on 2nd and long (they were the worst offender thru most of the season) and get better at the end of halfs. That's a lot for a veteran OC and QB to not do well.....

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Kubiak has indicated he may retire.....

 

they need better 4th down calls, to stop running on 2nd and long (they were the worst offender thru most of the season) and get better at the end of halfs. That's a lot for a veteran OC and QB to not do well.....

 

Agreed, but being a top 5 offense isn't done by fluke either.  The team got markedly better this year at throwing on first down and it was clear to me they improved their protection schemes dramatically.  They were able to hit big plays, use play action, and generally were a winning-caliber offense in nearly every game this year.

 

Not perfect for sure and I'm over the running on 2nd and long too, but I think the criticisms of "too old" and "not creative enough", etc. are really bizarre given the team's general level of success.

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I think the biggest problem/concern I have with the offense had more to do with its philosophy more than anything else. With Cousins, Jefferson, Theilen, Cook, Smith and Rudolph, this should have been a pedal to the medal attacking offense that builds an early lead and then has the ability to pound the game away. Instead, and I think this is Zimmer's fault, it seems that we want to be an early ball control team that keeps our defense off the field and create long 10+ play scoring drives. The TB game was probably the worst example of this where our offense dominated a good defense but had only a few points at the half because of missed field goals despite a huge advantage in stats and time of possession. 

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I think the biggest problem/concern I have with the offense had more to do with its philosophy more than anything else. With Cousins, Jefferson, Theilen, Cook, Smith and Rudolph, this should have been a pedal to the medal attacking offense that builds an early lead and then has the ability to pound the game away. Instead, and I think this is Zimmer's fault, it seems that we want to be an early ball control team that keeps our defense off the field and create long 10+ play scoring drives. The TB game was probably the worst example of this where our offense dominated a good defense but had only a few points at the half because of missed field goals despite a huge advantage in stats and time of possession. 

 

The CLE OL had NO Chance against Pittsburg, except for superior coaching. They threw quick passes....something MN won't do. Most every offensive problem on this team is coaching related, not talent (the OL is mediocre, and is a problem, but they could makes philosophical changes).

 

It's all on Zimmer (and to some degree Spielman).

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I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s brought in to interview for the OC gig.

 

No way he wants Zimmer telling him to run on 2nd an long, and to punt on 4th and 1, etc.......I can't see any way they have anything in common when it comes to offensive philosophy. 

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No way he wants Zimmer telling him to run on 2nd an long, and to punt on 4th and 1, etc.......I can't see any way they have anything in common when it comes to offensive philosophy. 

 

Zimmer does like to collect big names for his staff, but I agree that they don't seem to have the same philosophies. Only way I see it happening is if Spielman tells Zimmer he's not calling the shots on offense.

 

I could also see Pederson getting one of the available HC jobs though too. Personally, he seems like a bit of a dope to me and I think that Super Bowl season was likely largely due to his coordinators, Reich and Swartz, but plenty of others seem to think highly of him.

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I have no idea what the draft looks like. Assume the Clemson QB won't be there at 14. Is there a good DT or OL that isn't a reach at 14?

 

Seems like the good OL always go before the Vikes are on the clock, regardless of when they draft.

 

At this stage in his tenure, I don't like the idea of Spielman using a high pick on OL; I wouldn't trust him to pick out a good one if the entire 1998 Vikings line was staring him in the face. I can't imagine the team would be any worse off if he just started throwing darts at the remaining draft eligible OL starting in round five.

 

Skill positions, edge rushers, LB and DBs he often gets right.

 

OL, interior DL and QBs; ugh, we still need those positions, but good luck.

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Seems like the good OL always go before the Vikes are on the clock, regardless of when they draft.

 

At this stage in his tenure, I don't like the idea of Spielman using a high pick on OL; I wouldn't trust him to pick out a good one if the entire 1998 Vikings line was staring him in the face. I can't imagine the team would be any worse off if he just started throwing darts at the remaining draft eligible OL starting in round five.

 

Skill positions, edge rushers, LB and DBs he often gets right.

 

OL, interior DL and QBs; ugh, we still need those positions, but good luck.

 

The only OL he's picked that have worked have been 1st or 2nd round picks......

 

Not likely an impact DT will be there, but a DE might.

 

I predict a trade down to get a late first and second (or a third and then two thirds for a 2nd).

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Are they going to be forced to stick with an OC with a zone blocking scheme because of the way they built the OL? They are all fairly slight for linemen.

 

If so, I'm not at all thrilled about one more path they'll refuse to deviate from because they needed a band aid to cover their self-induced injuries and deficiencies.  

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Are they going to forced to stick with an OC with a zone blocking scheme because of the way they built the OL? They are all fairly slight for linemen.

 

If so, I'm not at all thrilled about one more path they'll refuse to deviate from because they needed a band aid to cover their self-induced injuries and deficiencies.  

At this point I don't see any changes coming for the O-line scheme, especially since Dennison is returning as the OL coach. Bradbury and Cleveland are clearly zone guys who likely wouldn't work in a power scheme. Reiff and O'Neill would likely be fine in either. They really can't reboot the entire interior of the line since they just sunk 1st and 2nd rounders into Bradbury and Cleveland... it's not an ideal situation. 

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Are they going to forced to stick with an OC with a zone blocking scheme because of the way they built the OL? They are all fairly slight for linemen.

 

If so, I'm not at all thrilled about one more path they'll refuse to deviate from because they needed a band aid to cover their self-induced injuries and deficiencies.  

 

All teams rely, to some degree, on players that fit their scheme.  Radical shifts with coaching changes go bad for precisely this reason.

 

For me, zone blocking is a fantastic system and I'm quite glad they employ it.  We were a top offense in the league and damn good on first down with a much improved mix of playcalling.  

 

What we really need is a defense that can force big plays and get quick stops to let that offense roll. We had a horrific defensive year, I think that's where the focus should stay.  (Though, I admit, a guard and a little WR depth would be nice)

 

 

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