With Brett Favre at 41 years old and out of the Vikings picture and Pat Williams at 38 and giving himself a "50-50" chance to not return, the Vikings roster should only get younger in 2011.
According to ESPN, the Vikings were the fourth-oldest team in the NFL heading into last season, but that's almost certainly going to change by the time the feeding-frenzy portion of free agency is done this year.
"We still want to continue to add youth to this roster. That's what we're trying to do. That's what we tried to do in this draft and that's why we accumulated a lot of picks in that third day," Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said. "We even have some future picks next year that we've accumulated. We want to continue to add youth and competition to what we currently have."
The Vikings took the philosophy last year of being an "all-in" team. They knew it could be Brett Favre's final season in the NFL, but after getting them within a whisker of the Super Bowl – a last-minute interception killed that opportunity in the NFC Championship Game – then-head coach Brad Childress was willing to roll the dice with an aging roster. The Vikings failed to make the playoffs, failed to have a winning season and Childress quickly paid the price, being fired with six games remaining last year.
Currently, the only quarterbacks the Vikings have on their roster are rookies or first- or second-year players between Christian Ponder, Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar. Last year at this time, the Vikings' top three quarterbacks (with ages) were Favre (40), Tarvaris Jackson (27) and Sage Rosenfels (32).
But the youth movement might not be limited to just the quarterback position.
"Every roster has to go throughout that. At some point, Player A is not going to be able to play and you have replace him," Frazier said. "But you'd better have guys that you are either developing on your practice squad or you're spending money in college free agency and go that route. I know we have extremely good coaches that have done an excellent job developing some of our younger talent on this roster."
The Vikings still plan to add their usual number of college free agents whenever free agency starts and will look to fill some needs with veteran free agency, but they don't want to get young at the expense of being competitive. They still believe they have enough talent on the roster to contend for a playoff spot, and they are hoping changes in the coaching staff have upgraded those areas as well.
The biggest and most notable change is the hiring of Bill Musgrave as the offensive coordinator, and his overhaul of the offensive system will change the type of players the Vikings pursue, at least in some instances.
"What we still do is try to evaluate them all as football players and then when we meet with the coaches and they've looked at them, we try to put the pieces together – and does he fit with what we want to do?" Spielman said. "Bill Musgrave, I've been extremely impressed with him and what he's doing offensively and the types of players he's looking for. We've made some slight adjustments, but we still try to stay true to our board and try to get the best players that we can get."
Spielman has also talked with head coach Leslie Frazier about the type of player he is looking for, and those conversations likely include discussions on character issues. But when it comes to the age of the roster, there is little doubt which way the Vikings will be trending this year.
Said Spielman: "We definitely want to try and get a younger roster in here. We feel pretty strongly about some of our young guys who will have to step up and play that have been here the last year or two."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings looking to get younger
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