Local

Vikings don't expect to get any compensatory picks

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 11:34
I know there are more prominent matters of concern as it pertains to the Vikings beat right now. You know, like where Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman ate breakfast at MSP this morning before flying down to Texas to meet with a certain disgruntled Pro Bowl running back. But as we wait for new developments in #PetersonWatch, I figured I’d throw up a quick block post on what Spielman had to say about compensatory picks when we talked to him the other day. Simply put, the GM doesn’t expect the Vikings to get any compensatory picks again this year when the recipients of the 32 comp picks are announced at the owners meetings next month. My colleague Mark Craig wrote an informative piece on comp picks last year. One tidbit from that: In two decades, the Vikings have only received 16 of them and haven’t gotten one since 2012. But why none this year? Yes, the Vikings lost a few notable unrestricted free agents last offseason, the biggest being defensive end Jared Allen. But they signed some, too, led by nose tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. The NFL doesn’t make its formula public, but it is based on more than just the salaries handed out, including playing time and postseason honors. So basically all those signings will likely cancel out and the Vikings will get no extra picks. Still, despite not getting many compensatory picks in recent years, Spielman said the Vikings keep the secret formula in mind when deciding whom to sign in the offseason. For example, players who were cut by their previous teams don’t count towards the formula. “There’s a pretty good group of guys that are going to get cut or have been cut already,” Spielman said. “So if you can potentially fill some needs with guys getting released, that doesn’t affect potential compensatory picks the following year. You weigh [unrestricted free agents] but we also put in all the guys that are potential street free agents, and if we can go that route, we may look at that route because it could potentially help you with compensatory picks.” I wouldn’t get your hopes up for 2016 comp picks, though. The Vikings don’t have any higher-profile players hitting the free-agent market because they locked up guys like tight end Kyle Rudolph and right guard Brandon Fusco before the season. Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley and backup defensive tackle Tom Johnson, who each played less than half of the defensive snaps last season, are probably their most notable free agents. Anyway, time to get back to refreshing Twitter in case Spielman and Zimmer stop to grab lunch.
Categories: Local

Wednesday (McCoy deal shows Peterson's limited trade value) edition: Wha' Happened?

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 10:01
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman will reportedly meet with Adrian Peterson in Texas today, apparently because Peterson — who missed all but one game last season after whipping his son with a switch — has some hurt feelings. It’s twisted, but sports are twisted. The upshot is the Vikings can now talk to Peterson — and next week, when the league season changes over and free agency begins, they could trade him. The prospect of trading Peterson — combined with Dallas’ potential interest in him — has Vikings fans dreaming of a reverse Herschel Walker deal, whereby Minnesota would get a massive haul in return. That dream should have been immediately realized as folly because the market for and importance of running backs is vastly different than it was a generation ago, but if it wasn’t, some other news Wednesday should snuff it out completely. The Eagles have traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for a young linebacker coming off of a torn ACL, Kiko Alonso. That’s it. No more. A clean 1-for-1 swap. So now we know the trade value for an elite NFL running back (McCoy has nearly 3,000 yards rushing combined in the past two seasons) who is a better pass-catcher than Peterson (three years of at least 50 catches, including one year with 78), is three years younger than Peterson (McCoy turns 27 in July), is due to make less money and count less against the salary cap than Peterson and whose most significant proven off-field transgression is that he is a bad tipper. That value is one young linebacker — a former second-round pick who had a very good rookie season, but one who is coming off a very serious injury and isn’t doing full-speed drills yet. We have to imagine Peterson’s trade value is significantly less than that. The Vikings and Peterson might end up parting ways regardless, but now even more so than a day ago we should know not to expect much in return.
Categories: Local

TwinsCentric: Where will Miguel Sano play?

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 06:45
The young slugger seems increasingly unlikely to stick at third.
Categories: Local

Rest of conference chasing Maryland in Big Ten women's basketball tournament

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 22:20
Maryland, perfect in Big Ten play, will be targeted in the conference tourney.
Categories: Local

Three state-tournament hat tricks turned Spehar into a legend

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 22:18
Dave Spehar led Duluth East to the Class 2A state title in 1995 with a remarkable three games.
Categories: Local

Wild battles back to win over Ottawa in a shootout

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 22:14
Matt Dumba scored twice in regulation and Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle scored in the five-round shootout as the Wild improved to 14-2-1 since the All-Star break.
Categories: Local

New man with a plan: Molitor intends to carry 12 pitchers with Twins

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 22:10
The Twins manager would like to limit his roster to 12 pitchers so he has more position players.
Categories: Local

Gophers begin football drills with a spring in their step

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 22:02
QB Mitch Leidner and Co. are eager to get back to work.
Categories: Local

Neal might have a future with Wolves

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 22:00
Few expected Gary Neal to stay with the team, but Flip Saunders believes he might have what it takes.
Categories: Local

Four citizen-activists pushed Vikings stadium bird safety to the forefront

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 21:43
Casual birders and nature lovers, they are waging fight over glass for new Vikings stadium.
Categories: Local

Zimmer to meet with Peterson in Texas

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 20:55
Now that the Vikings can officially meet with Adrian Peterson, they intend to do just that. A source confirmed Peterson will meet with Vikings officials Wednesday in Houston.   USA Today reported Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will fly to Texas for the meeting; it also said general manager Rick Spielman was likely to fly with Zimmer. Spielman said Monday the Vikings have spoken to Peterson by phone and that they would continue to have an “open dialogue” with their star running back while he is on the commissioner’s exempt list. Peterson won a recent court victory when his NFL suspension, set to run until at least April 15, was sent back to the league by Judge David Doty, who ruled an NFL arbitrator’s upholding of the suspension was flawed.  The league then put Peterson on the exempt list, meaning all Vikings officials could talk with him. The NFL appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, but that hearing isn’t likely for months. “We are able to have communication now with Adrian,” Spielman said Monday. “We’ll keep all those communications internal. I don’t want to give you guys a blow-by-blow [account] every day. I think it’s been very clearly stated that we want to have Adrian Peterson back. There’s no question about the talent. He’s a unique talent and he’s under contract with us next year.” Spielman was asked about Peterson’s comment two weeks ago about feeling “uneasy” about potentially returning to the Vikings and whether there is a “rift” between the player and the team. “I’m not going to get into anything on that front,” said Spielman, who later added, “I can tell you that we’re going to have and we have open communication with him and we’ll just leave all those discussions between us and Adrian.” Peterson’s contract runs through 2017.  He is scheduled to make $12.75 million this season, none of it guaranteed; based on their recent posturing, it seems as if the Vikings are willing to pay Peterson his full salary and not attempt to renegotiate his contract.
Categories: Local

As deer disappear, DNR agrees to develop management plan

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 20:16
Agency prompted by hunters’ concerns after last year’s harvest of 139,400 — the fewest in 25 years.
Categories: Local

TFD: Joe Mauer is the lowest-ranked first baseman in ESPN's fantasy baseball ratings

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 17:03
This is not a Joe Mauer cheap shot. Repeat: not a Joe Mauer cheap shot. We’re merely passing along information that we thought was interesting. And yes, we will do so while freely admitting that fantasy baseball is not real baseball. They are, in the literal senses of the word, opposites. But we happened to be browsing ESPN’s fantasy baseball ratings — why, we’re not sure, since we don’t have the patience for fantasy baseball and haven’t stuck with a league in 25 years — and were struck by the ratings of the MLB first basemen. Of the 30 ranked by ESPN (Insider required), Mauer was dead last at No. 30. And he was the only one not ranked in the overall top 250. Do with that information what you will. Aw, come on. Don’t rip on Mauer in the comments. It’s too easy (and besides, we do think he’ll have a bounceback year).
Categories: Local

Minnesota United owner talks of 'higher professional level' of soccer at supporter group event

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 14:49
Those who like to read between the lines can find some very interesting fodder from a Twin Cities soccer event that took place Monday. Members of the Dark Clouds — a die-hard fan supporter group for the local Minnesota United soccer club — held their “Supporters Summit” at the new Surly complex in Minneapolis. Interestingly, both the owner of United (Dr. Bill McGuire) and the team president (Nick Rogers) were also in attendance. And most interesting of all is what McGuire and Rogers were wearing as well as what McGuire reportedly said. The backdrop for this, in case you did not know, is that United and the Vikings have been vying for an MLS franchise in Minnesota. The Vikings would have the team play in their new stadium; the United group would build a new soccer-specific stadium. Minneapolis is considered a frontrunner, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber spoke very highly recently of United. But United folks have been very quiet about their pursuit of a franchise, so a report from last night’s event is quite interesting. Per MLS4MN: Dr. Bill McGuire and team president Nick Rogers were each wearing two scarves that night – one for their team Minnesota United, and a second scarf from last year’s MLS Cup. At the end of the evening Dr. McGuire addressed the room full of Dark Clouds by sharing his vision for soccer in Minnesota: “What we’re trying to do, and as you know we are pretty quiet about this, is fairly straightforward. We’re trying to do something that will bring soccer to the community at an increasingly higher professional level and make your bus trips from the Nomad (a soccer bar located just East of Downtown Minneapolis) shorter.” It’s a bit cryptic, to be sure, and it’s not a victory speech indicating United — which currently plays in the second-tier North American Soccer League — has won the right to have the franchise. But even if McGuire didn’t specifically say MLS, he’s clearly alluding to the league, while the reference to a shorter bus trip is a clear reference to a new stadium in Minneapolis as opposed to United’s current home in suburban Blaine. Saying even that much could be an indication that we are getting closer to an announcement that MLS is, indeed, coming to Minneapolis and that the United group will be the one bringing in the team. That would be consistent with rumblings we’ve heard in recent weeks. Did Dr. Bill Mcguire just say “We believe we’ve saved you from watching soccer on football plastic.” ?!?!? pic.twitter.com/lev8sAoRtC — Two United Fans (@TwoUnitedFans) March 3, 2015
Categories: Local

Athletic Buggs is improving, now Pitino wants to see more passion

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 14:10
Minnesota coach Richard Pitino wants talented wing Charles Buggs to get more serious about the game and spend more time in the gym.
Categories: Local

Lower-tier alternatives to top-dollar free agents

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 14:06
General Manager Rick Spielman probably rained on the parade of Vikings fans who are hoping for a splash this offseason when he said yesterday that he expects the team to be patient in free agency. “Once free agency starts we’ll probably lay in the weeds a little bit and see what happens,” he said. Now, it’s understandable to be a little suspicious of general managers like Spielman this time a year. And after all, Spielman did leave himself a little wiggle room by saying the Vikings could open up the checkbook if “something unique pops up,” as they felt was the case with Greg Jennings in 2013. But the Vikings are trying to build the foundation of a championship team through the NFL draft, as evidenced by the seven players they took in the first round the past three years. And while they are hoping for a return to the playoffs in 2015, I am sure that Spielman and the Vikings are aware that they aren’t one or two marquee players away from seriously competing for the Lombardi Trophy. They also realize that overpaying for unknowns in free agency will make it trickier to keep core players like Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes and Teddy Bridgewater when their rookie deals are up. “Not only are you planning for this year, but you also have to look into the future,” Spielman said. So while the Vikings may surprise by pouncing on a top-dollar free agent next week, it seems more likely they target lower-tier guys, like they did last year with Linval Joseph and Captain Munnerlyn. In the spirit of that, let’s take a look at some of the top free agents that Vikings fans are clamoring for on Twitter and cheaper options who probably fit more in line with what the Vikings want to do. Top-dollar free agent: Mike Iupati, G, 49ers Lower-tier alternative: Clint Boling, G, Bengals Someone is going to pay Iupati, a former first-round pick and a three-time Pro Bowler for the 49ers, a ton of money. But paying big bucks for a guard is tricky business (with a generational talent like Steve Hutchinson being an obvious exception). Instead, the Vikings could pursue Boling if they are looking for a physical guard who can help them get their power running game going again in 2015. Top-dollar free agent: Byron Maxwell, CB, Seahawks Lower-tier alternative: Davon House, CB, Packers There was a lot of buzz about Maxwell at the NFL scouting combine. The Ringo Starr of the Legion of Boom, Maxwell is expected to have plenty of suitors and he could score a salary of more than $8 million per season. House, who was drafted a couple of rounds before Maxwell in 2011, was a part-time starter for the Packers, but he is young, he can run and he has some size, too. Top-dollar free agent: Devin McCourty, S, Patriots Lower-tier alternative: Ron Parker, S, Chiefs Many NFL insiders thought it would be a formality that the Patriots would slap their franchise tag on McCourty. There is still a chance that he could return to the Patriots, but either way, he is getting paid. A cheaper gamble worth taking might be Parker, who like McCourty was a cornerback before being converted to safety. He doesn’t have the production of McCourty, but he has some potential. Top-dollar free agent: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos Lower-tier alternative: Kenny Britt, WR, Rams Yes, the Broncos used the franchise tag on Thomas, but it’s the non-exclusive tag, meaning another team can sign him away if they are willing to cough up a pair of first-round picks, too. This ain’t fantasy football, so chances are that’s not happening. While Britt is nowhere near as explosive as Thomas, he is also 6-foot-3 with a similar build and would also bring value inside the red zone. Top-dollar free agent: Rey Maualuga, MLB, Bengals Lower-tier alternative: Jasper Brinkley, MLB, Vikings I understand why I get asked about Maualuga all the time. He’s a name player who has ties to Mike Zimmer with the Bengals. With all due respect to Maualuga, he is a solid run defender but is nothing special. There don’t appear to be many, if any, quality do-it-all middle linebackers in free agency. So if you’re settling for a two-down thumper there, why not just keep Brinkley around on the cheap?
Categories: Local

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