In case you spent your Sunday re-watching Zach LaVine highlights or crunching numbers to figure out the Wild’s playoff odds, my colleague Chip Scoggins wrote a pretty thorough column on the Adrian Peterson situation for Sunday’s newspaper.
With a pair of prominent Vikings decision-makers in Owner Mark Wilf and new COO Kevin Warren coming out last week in support of Peterson’s return, it’s obvious that the Vikings are making a concerted effort to smooth things over with the star back — or at least give that impression publicly.
The elephant in the room, of course, is his contract, currently the NFL’s biggest for a running back. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $12.75 million in 2015 with a cap hit of $15.4 million. The Vikings are expected to approach him about re-doing that deal to gain short-term relief.
But as Chip wrote in his Sunday column, the Vikings could always opt to simply pay the man and let him play at that salary this season. He mentioned former defensive end Jared Allen, whom the team allowed to return for the final year of his contract in 2013 despite a $17 million cap hit.
According to OverTheCap.com, a great resource that I will be referencing quite a bit in the coming weeks, the Vikings have a little over $18 million in cap room. That’s in the middle of the pack among NFL teams. And since they don’t have to worry about re-signing any high-priority free agents, the Vikings have enough room to make some moves without leveraging Peterson into taking a pay cut.
And if they want to free up some cash to make a splash, there are other ways for the Vikings to do so. Here are four other ways they could *theoretically* create more cap room this offseason:
RELEASE CHAD GREENWAY: The 32-year-old linebacker missed four games due to injury in 2014 and watched both Gerald Hodges and Audie Cole play well in his absence. He has a cap hit of $8.8 million, but if the Vikings release him, they can save $7.1 million. Greenway took a $1 million pay cut to stick around last season. He will likely have to take an even bigger one to stay here for 2015.
RESTRUCTURE GREG JENNINGS: Peterson’s massive cap number doesn’t seem that out of whack when you put it next to that of Jennings. Jennings will make a base salary of $8.9 million and will have a cap hit of $11 million. That’s a lot for a player who has averaged 63.5 receptions for 773 yards and five touchdowns in his two seasons here. Re-doing the deal to bring it more in line with Jennings’ on-field value sounds good in theory, but would the receiver be receptive to doing it?
RELEASE CHARLIE JOHNSON: The veteran guard has a cap hit of $2.5 million, but the Vikings can simply release him to get all of that off the books. And that’s what they’re expected to do.
RESTRUCTURE BRIAN ROBISON: Robison, who turns 32 in April, had a down year in 2014 with just 4.5 sacks. The popular defensive end will make a base salary of $4.15 million in 2015 with a cap hit of $5.65 million. There might be an opportunity to shave his base salary and create some space.
One more ICYMI plug: I chatted late last week with running back Jerick McKinnon, who is on track after back surgery and expected to be ready for spring workouts. You can read that story here.
In a large piece that examines whether Johnny Manziel has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback — much of it in comparison to Teddy Bridgewater — Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman starts with this:
It was a few days after Johnny Manziel had imploded like a dying star against the Cincinnati Bengals, completing 10 passes for 80 yards and throwing two picks—one of the worst first starts for a quarterback in recent NFL history. Many things led to that moment, and Browns players knew the Manziel meltdown was approaching. Some were starting to think his on-field issues went beyond his apparent disdain for studying and practicing his craft. There was something else. Something simpler. Something bigger.
Some players believed Manziel wasn’t good enough to play in the NFL. It wasn’t solely the work ethic or the partying, but a dramatic talent deficit. In the wake of that disastrous start against the Bengals, a Browns player remembers a brief conversation he had with a teammate. “Think about where we’d be now,” the player recalled telling a teammate, “if we had drafted Teddy Bridgewater.“
Now, it’s important to remember that Manziel has only played a handful of games in the NFL and that there are plenty of people rushing to give opinions about him. But it’s also undeniable that 1) Bridgewater completely outclassed him in every phase of the game as a rookie and 2) It might be another franchise, and not to one in Minnesota, left to lament a what-if personnel move for a change.
Because Cleveland could have had Bridgewater. Mock drafts suggested the Browns were going to take him. Instead, they opted for Manziel and the Vikings got Teddy. The rest is brief history for now, with many interesting chapters yet to be written.
There is a lot to be learned from a cheating scandal, even if the accusations never prove to be fully substantiated.
You learn about the accuser and the accused, of course, but you also learn about everyone in between reacting to the situation. Those who have a vested interest in the outcome of the cheating tend to either use coded language like “gamesmanship” to describe the action in question (if the cheating benefits them directly or indirectly), or they go to other extremes and ask for punishment not befitting the crime if it does not benefit them (as in, those who called for Bill Belichick to be banned from NFL, or at least the Super Bowl, in the wake of Deflategate).
Neutral parties, though? Those who are a little too righteous might have skeletons in their own closets (the lady doth protest too much, methinks). But usually we get a sense of where they fall on the moral spectrum. Not all cheating is created equal, but at the end of the day, cheating is cheating. How many shades you have in that gray area says a lot about who you are as a person — and in many cases what you will justify either in your own actions or the actions of others in the name of victory or some other gain.
You will invent more coded language (it’s borrowing or a tribute, not stealing) or believe the idea that it’s not cheating unless you get caught. We saw it with Deflategate. Hey, the Patriots routed the Colts. The footballs didn’t matter. Probably, but the outcome doesn’t change the action. If the Patriots deliberately doctored footballs — and at this point we might never know — it’s cheating and it doesn’t matter if the final score was 45-7 or 27-24.
The latest local cheating controversy involves the state dance team competition. At question is whether the team from Faribault, which won the championship, lifted its routine from an out-of-state team. Other teams in the competition believe they did, and protested at the end of the meet. Faribault stands by its routine. “We won it fair and square,” coach Lois Krinke said. “If they didn’t want their second- and third-place medals, I couldn’t care less.”
The protesting teams, who have plenty at stake, are on one extreme. Faribault is on the other. The rest of us are left to check out the facts and decide for ourselves where on the spectrum it falls. Our sense is that society, too, has become far more extreme in its reactions to these cases. And the more gray area that creeps in, the further apart those extremes become.