Talent Evaluator: Vikings' Patience Pays

A top evaluator of talent in the league had only praise for how the Vikings have handled their opportunities in free agency and predicts a surprising team.

Watching the days pass, the Vikings front office has once again proven to have a specific theory in approaching free agent players. This off-season, with salary cap money to spend that rivals Fort Knox, the prudent Vikings are cashing in on their patience.

With numerous holes to fill, $26 million dollars to spend, and the riches of free agent players looking to strike it rich in the free agency bonanza, Minnesota has retained the resemblance of financial responsibility within the contracts of the numerous players signed since the free agency signing period opened on Feb. 28.

A well-known player personnel evaluator spent some time with this column earlier this week discussing the inter-workings that are rebuilding the Vikings.

"The Minnesota Vikings are the one team in the league that has the opportunity to set the market price for many of the most desired players available. Quite the contrary is the approach taken by Minnesota. They have been active in the market but have not been caught up in the free-spending spree that we have seen," the evaluator said. "Two of the recent signings of the Vikings should be a tale-tell sign that the approach in Minnesota works."

What is the benefit of playing the waiting game, not signing players, while some of the best talent available can seek a deal with any team they desire?

"Caught up in the action of free agency is the competitive nature, the trend of believing that a team is maybe a player or two from getting over the hump. To be competitive comes at a price, when rolling the dice on free-agent players," the evaluator continued. "Look at the number of free-agent players that have changed teams through the process, the percentage of those players that achieved at the same or greater level is less than 50 percent. That is not an indicator of the talent of the players, more so it is a question of that achievement due to the system the player played within. Some others within the game believe that changing teams is a process that takes a player almost two seasons to really feel a comfort level within, regardless of the situation, scheme, etc.

"Lastly, players become complacent."

When the free agency signing period started, the Vikings were rumored to be interested in many high-profile players, many which have signed lucrative contracts with other teams. Minnesota chose restraint. When the Vikings were believed to be left holding the bag and missing out on the premium players, they struck in rapid fashion over the past two weeks.

"When everybody (Minnesota) sits back and evaluates the accomplishments of their 2003 off-season, they are going to be extremely satisfied with what they have done. This team has made some major improvements, they have a significant amount of cash left to spend, and the draft is yet a month away," the evaluator said. "This is a team that is on the move and will be a surprise next season.

"Never say never, but the power in the NFL North is changing faces."

Next time: The discussion continues on the players signed by the Vikings in free agency.

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