Friday, March 11, 2005

A Packer Among Us?

While beating the Packers at Lambeau ranks among the leading on-field accomplishments for the Vikings, off the field there is nothing like having the Packers lose one of their star players to another team. Except when that star player leaves the Packers for the Vikings.

At 4pm on Thursday, the question regarding who will fill the hole as the Vikings' strong safety in 2005 may have met its answer. As the deadline struck for the Green Bay Packers to either release safety Darren Sharper or pay him a hefty roster bonus, the cap-strapped Packers were forced to release their long-standing defensive stalwart. And that could be great news for the Vikings.

Sharper, who played through injuries last year and still hauled in more INTs than any member of the Vikings' 2004 secondary, is in Minnesota today to discuss possible contract terms. Still well under the league salary floor, the Vikings should have no trouble reaching terms with Sharper (assuming Sharper is willing to defer his signing bonus). Sharper, scheduled to receive $8 million from the Packers this season, including a $2 million plus roster bonus, will likely be willing to sign for just over half that given the paucity of teams with cap space still in search of a safety.

The only question appears to be whether the Vikings truly are interested in Sharper, who has some lingering maladies from last season's injuries, or are merely using Sharper to gain leverage in their trade negotiations with the Jaguars for Darius.

Or perhaps the Vikings are interested in both. Although Sharper appears to be a logical fit at strong safety, he has shown adeptness at the free safety position and could take the place of Corey Chavous, who had a fairly forgettable 2004. That would leave the strong safety open for Darius.

Get It Right

Vikings' cap wiz Rob Brzezinski was at his butt-smooching best again this week when he praised Vikings' owner Red McCombs for "making it possible" for the Vikings to sign their newest stable of free agents. What a crock.

Even after the Vikings signed Fred Smoot and Jermaine Wiggins, they were so far under the NFL-mandated salary floor that a mad dash through the remainder of the free agency period might not get the Vikings where they need to be. Whether Red wants to or not the Vikings must spend money in free agency. That is the only chance they have to spend enough money to reach the salary floor. Unless, by some perverse logic, they prefer to give existing players upwardly re-structured contracts.

And if the fact that the Vikings remain well below the salary floor despite their recent free-agent signings is not enough to convince one that it is not upon Red--but league rules--that Vikings' fans ought to heap any measure of gratitude they might have for doing what other teams do in the course of a regular off-season, there is more. The Vikings have requested that every free agent with whom they have negotiated contract terms in 2005 defer their right to a signing bonus until after the presumed date of sale of the Vikings. Jermaine Wiggins even deferred part of his signing bonus until March 2006. All, of course, at Red's behest.

Notwithstanding the team's free-agent activity, the Vikings still have several glaring holes--most notably at linebacker, safety, wide receiver, and placekicker. If Red truly were enabling the Vikings to move forward, at least one of those holes already would have been filled. But when Red asked Antonio Pierce to defer his salary bonus, the middle-linebacker moved on.

That's the Red we know. Not the one the one about whom Brzezinski, unabashedly--and embarrassingly, continues to sing the praises. Ultimately, Vikings' fans don't expect Red to spend any more money than he is required to spend (thank you NFL for the salary floor). What we do expect, however, is for the Vikings' PR "machine" to cease with the adulatory canards.

Up Next: Who He?

6 comments:

vikinghooper said...

The propaganda machine churns in all levels of society, even lowly NFL football.

I love you calling out Brzenski's ( ?spelling ) obsequious brown nosing of Red. How can you compliment an owner for essentially making his business viable?

Now that they've signed Sharper, it seems to me inconceivable that the NFL doesn't either let Red rapidly transfer the team, or guarantee free agents with NFL assurances.

These "we'll pay you in May bonuses " are an embarrassment to the NFL, and should really cause free agents to wonder if Bill Bidwell doesn't own this team.

Sharper, P Williams, Smoot, and Harris. They look like they're trying; I just wish somebody with integrity would discuss the Moss problem in detail and explaing why he's gone.

The signings look good, the accountablity is pathetic.

Keep your finger on their pulse Geek, and if you feel Red's pulse, try to occlude it!

Vikes Geek said...

Hooper,

I have been holding my tongue somewhat on the Moss deal, but that will end soon.

It's not clear why the NFL would allow deferred bonuses in the case of the Vikings since Red essentially is spending the next owner's money. At a minimum, the entire affair is comical.

VG

bird said...

VG, in your Moss trade commentary, I hope you will note that the Vikes could have signed Williams, Sharper, Smoot, Wiggins and, say Hartwell, AND kept Moss. It's not like the Moss contract was keeping them from signing players.

The only small insight (from a team/player perspective rather than an uninformed Peter King perspective) that I have seen that justifies trading Moss were Birk's quotes shortly after the trade was rumored. Birk's comments made it sound like Moss' actions may have been causing locker room problems, although it didn't sound like it was beyond repair.

Vikes Geek said...

Bird,

You can count on it.

VG

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