There is a delicate balance that NFL teams have to walk when it comes to the composition of their rosters. Teams are that too young at one time tend to struggle with concepts, formations and plays they’ve never encountered on tape. Teams that get too old together typically are part of a franchise implosion once the success goes away or starts to show signs of fading faster than hoped.
The Minnesota Vikings underwent one of those sort of roster turnovers following the 2010 season that took a couple years to accomplish. Every organization finds itself in that position at some point. The Bears have recently completed a similar gutting of veteran mainstays and are starting over.
The ideal blend is to have a mix of veterans and youth, with the veterans being the glue that holds the locker room together as the old dogs on the porch who have been there and done that.
It was no mistake that when he inherited a very young secondary, head coach Mike Zimmer needed to orchestrate a move to give him some veteran leadership to go along with young talents Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. He brought in Terence Newman, who was not only well-versed in Zimmer’s system, he could be a positive veteran influence on the younger players.
Zimmer already had that at most positions on the roster. He had Chad Greenway at linebacker, Brian Robison on the defensive line, John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt on the offensive line and Adrian Peterson in the backfield.
When the Vikings opted to incinerate Teddy Bridgewater’s backup band – parting ways with both Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder – they made sure he had a veteran backup in Shaun Hill to keep some NFL experience in the quarterbacks room.
However, it would appear the same isn’t true in the wide receivers room. The Vikings had veterans the last two seasons with Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace, but both of them came in with the expectation of being the No. 1 guy and struggled to adjust to a subordinate role.
As things currently stand, the two projected starters – Laquon Treadwell and Stefon Diggs – have combined for 13 games of NFL play. Charles Johnson has two years of experience. Cordarrelle Patterson has played three years. Adam Thielen has been around for two years. The grand old man of the wide receiver room at the moment is Jarius Wright, who is four years into his career at the ripe old age of 26.
With as much as organizations do to assure they have a combination of age and youth at different positions, the wide receiver room is young and getting younger if Moritz Böhringer makes the roster.
Do the Vikings need a veteran receiver to serve as the dean of boys in the receivers’ room?
Jennings has been a bit outspoken on that subject, saying he has let general manager Rick Spielman know he is available. Part of his argument was that the Vikings are short on veteran receivers that can lead by example.
Apparently, Spielman hasn’t returned Jennings’ calls. But it doesn’t mean Jennings’ point is invalid.
For the right price, the right player could be a positive influence on a young team. Guys like Anquan Boldin, Roddy White and Marques Colston are all available on the free agent market. Under the right circumstances, they could come into a Vikings offense knowing that they’re not going to be the main man, but can be the work ethic/been-there, done-that guy that could be like a coach on the field during practices, film sessions and games. The problem, however, is the numbers game, as the Vikings already appear to have a full depth chart at the position.
It would appear the Vikings have made a point to include a veteran that doesn’t fit the Spielman Logan’s Run/dead at 30 philosophy at just about every key position on the roster. Except wide receiver.
Will that change between now and training camp? Don’t be stunned if it does.