As several NFC teams struggle with starting over in 2004, the announcement that the Vikings would retain Mike Tice came as something of a relief to players and coaches. Considering that, with the regular season just three days since being over and the Bears, Redskins, Giants, Falcons and Cardinals are already looking for new coaches, the problems in the NFC are obvious.
While many thought Tice might be on the chopping block, he was spared – leaving the question "what next?" for the Vikings.
That question may only be able to be answered by Red McCombs. With the Vikings rumored to be $20 million under the 2004 salary cap and having far fewer needs today than they did a year ago, the Vikings could be aggressive players in free agency. With a free-agent crop as loaded with top talent and cheaper available veteran talent, the Vikings could make a couple of critical signings to help put them over the top.
The question now is will McCombs allow them to do it? He didn't last year, but, if he truly wants a winner and wants it now, this may be the year to go for it with the current group the Vikings have together.
NEW YEAR'S EVE NOTES
* The Vikings will be picking 19th in the draft this year, leaving a lot more potential scenarios leading up to draft day. As we've seen in recent years, teams at the lower half of the top 10 have often been willing to trade down to get more picks later in the draft. However, with their success in landing all of their draft picks on the final roster last year, VU is being told the Vikings would be unlikely to jump up and lose picks now that they have the confidence that they can select the players who can make an immediate impact.
* Picking 19th isn't new territory for the Vikings front office. In a six-year stretch during the Denny Green administration, the Vikings picked between 16th and 21st five times.
* The Vikings' woes on grass may not take too big of a beating next year. Of their 16 games, only four (vs. the Bears, Packers, Redskins and Eagles) will be outdoors on grass. The other four road games (vs. the Texans, Lions, Colts and Saints) will all be indoors.
* The only difference in the opponents for the Vikings and Packers next year will be that the Vikings will play the Seahawks and Saints, while the Packers play the Rams and Panthers. The other 14 opponents are identical.
What's Next For Vikings?
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