Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman addressed the local media Monday as the Vikings prepared for the most hectic (and expensive) week of player signings in NFL history. What typically takes five months to accomplish will be done in about five days.
As expected, neither Frazier nor Spielman could avoid questions about the Vikings quarterback situation. Will Christian Ponder be the opening day starter? Will they make a run for a veteran like Donovan McNabb or Matt Hasselbeck? Will they stick with what they've got? Spielman said the team has discussed multiple scenarios, but until now they have been unable to do much other than talk about it over and over and over again.
"We've had thousands of different conversations between Leslie and myself, Bill Musgrave and Craig Johnson and different scenarios and they have a game plan in place for all the different scenarios," Spielman said. "If we can bring in a veteran quarterback, that's what we'll do. If we can't, I know we've talked about making sure the veteran quarterback will be the right fit, too. Not only for us to potentially win ballgames if we go down that route, but also the right fit in the room for Ponder and Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar."
On Tuesday there were several reports on veterans quarterbacks on the market who could be of interest to the Vikings.
Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton is reportedly on the trade market, but his cap hit exceeds $8 million, making him a tough trade acquisition for the Vikings, who were reportedly about $5 million over the salary cap. Teams have until Aug. 4 to be in compliance with the $120.3 million cap.
Even former Vikings camp body Tyler Thigpen was among the quarterbacks the team is apparently considering. According to the Miami Herald, Thigpen "has his eyes on" the Titans, Bills, Vikings, Seahawks and Cardinals.
And, according to the Seattle Times, Matt Hasselbeck has his wish list of teams to play for – the Seahawks, which the Times also reported isn't likely – the Cardinals, 49ers, Titans and Dolphins, but no mention of the Vikings.
But the biggest name linked to the Vikings is McNabb, and ESPN reported that a deal is essentially in place between the Redskins and Vikings, but that McNabb would have to work a restructured contract, one that would likely significantly reduce his cap number. That could be a sticking point if the ESPN report is true.
Frazier said the Vikings are looking toward the regular season opener and that he and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave have discussed their options – whether it involves bringing in a veteran or letting Ponder take the wheel on Day 1 or to ease him into action.
"I think our coaches feel very comfortable in doing whatever is necessary to be successful when we open the season in San Diego," Frazier said. "That may mean a young quarterback being in that role. But we're going to explore all avenues. We've talked about that throughout the process. And we're going to go back and talk some more when this press conference is over. We're going to try to do what's best for the Vikings and what's best for our roster, but I wouldn't put it past us to open the season with a young quarterback if that's the case."
Spielman said the undrafted free agent process is going to what it would have been back in April, except for the fact that they have had months to do their homework on players they have interest in. But, with the entire process – talking contracts with undrafted free agents, drafted rookies, veteran free agents and trade discussions – there is a lot of activity that has created a phone bank at Winter Park.
"Where our draft room is, where the coaches conference room is, we set up
phone lines so it's going to be like a telethon to get that started," Spielman said. "With our coaches involved, we'll do our normal college free-agent policy. We'll also, starting [Tuesday], start speaking with our own guys when we're allowed to do that and then also start speaking with other unrestricted free agents. If there are trades or anything like that, all that stuff we'll do tomorrow. But we have prioritized between myself and Rob [Brzezinski] on how we're going to handle and split up all of this stuff."
It's going to be as wild a signing frenzy as the NFL has ever seen. It may be overwhelming to some, but you get the impression the Vikings are simply waiting for the flag to drop and get the race started.
"I think it's exciting because it's a new challenge, it's something different that's out of the ordinary and I'm very excited to just get this whole process started," Spielman said. "You've had months and months to kind of plan, rehash and look at all your different options and now you get a chance to go out and try to execute those."
Vikings reportedly interested in veteran QBs
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