Tuesday was one to remember in the history of the Vikings franchise. Rick Spielman let everyone know by his actions – rather than his words at his Tuesday press conference – who was in charge.
In the span of eight hours, Spielman jettisoned Percy Harvin (officially) and Antoine Winfield and re-signed six young teammates – Phil Loadholt, Erin Henderson, Jerome Felton, Jerome Simpson, Jamarca Sanford and Joe Berger. It was a year ago that all seemed to be in lock-step with the franchise.
The last 36 hours showed that the organizational vision is singular and Spielman has the riding crop tucked under his arm to prove it. The question now is where do we go from here?
A day into the feeding frenzy that is free agency, some franchises struck fast and decisively – Miami and Tennessee come to mind as being 2013's Mr. March. But, for the most part, the biggest moves weren't made by playoff teams – unless it meant jettisoning talent rather than adding it. Spielman is resting on the bottom like a catfish seeing how free agency plays itself out.
The landscape has changed significantly since the NFL opened for business mid-afternoon Tuesday. So if the Vikings are going to start paying people outside the organization, who will they be?
Wide Receiver – With Mike Wallace off the market to Miami and Wes Welker appeared to be heading back to New England, if the Vikings are to make a big splash here, all the focus will be on Greg Jennings. With Harvin gone, Tier II free agents like Danny Amendola are back in the picture, but Jennings is the only big name out there.
Cornerback – The release of Winfield opens the door for a potential move on another cornerback, but the Vikings haven't been linked there yet. The remaining free agents are all players with problems – either off the field, like Aqib Talib and Pacman Jones, or veterans who would be looking for the kind of money that got Winfield cut, like Nnamdi Asomusgha, DeAngelo Hall, Tracy Porter and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. This may be the biggest test of Spielman's power monopoly. It's one thing to have a young receiver corps without veteran leadership, but that's a much more daunting task when it comes to the secondary, especially at cornerback. The market here has grown in the last couple of days, not shrunk. Spielman made it clear that the "door is open" to Winfield to return, but one has to wonder whether he wants to walk back through after being shown it by the Vikings Tuesday.
Linebacker – The Vikings got Erin Henderson re-signed, but Jasper Brinkley is reportedly talking with the Giants and the pool isn't that deep in young talent to be begin with. The only big-name players that signed Tuesday were Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler – both of whom were signed by the suddenly free-spending Dolphins. The Vikings may still be in the market to find a free agent, but Ellerbe was the only young impact guy available and he's already off the market.
Quarterback – The pool got bigger with the release of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the name most associated in the rumor mill with the Vikings currently isn't available – Kansas City QB Matt Cassel. His availability is expected in the coming days now that the Alex Smith deal has been finalized and the Chiefs signed Saints backup Chase Daniel, but the market remains pretty much the same as it was before free agency began.
The Vikings did a solid job of locking down the players they felt they had to keep, got value from the Harvin trade and opened up cap space with the release of Winfield. The first day of free agency may not be viewed by the fan base as being productive, but the Vikings did get a lot of things done (whether they were all good things is debatable). The question that remains is what role will outside free agency play in the 2013 Vikings moving forward?
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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