The Vikings just completed a rookie minicamp last weekend, but they will get into (mostly) full-team workouts in the coming weeks as the offseason moves from a conditioning program to organized team activities (voluntary practices).
The Vikings announced Wednesday that they have set the dates for the team's veteran mini-camp – Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 8.
The minicamp will have four sessions – an afternoon session on June 6, a morning and afternoon session on June 7, and a morning session on June 8. The four practice sessions will be open to the media.
In addition, the team announced when it would be having OTA (Organized Team Activities) that would be open to the media. The team has up to 14 OTA days and five of those have been announced as open to the media – Tuesday, May 20 through Thursday, May 22 and Tuesday-Wednesday May 27-28.
While OTAs are not mandatory for players to attend, around the league almost every player without a contract dispute or a valid reason not to attend participate in the voluntary drills. The June minicamp is mandatory for all players under contract, which is often a sign of which players will be potentially having an issue with the team.
Last year, Antoine Winfield
missed time during the voluntary sessions, but any problems he may have had with the coaching staff were resolved enough for him to attend training camp. It will be interesting so see how Matt Birk
approaches the coming team activities – he has stayed away from the offseason workout program while looking to get a contract extension and could continue his absence during the voluntary OTA sessions.
Put Sports Illustrated's Peter King as someone jumping on the Vikings bandwagon. In his post-draft rankings of the NFL teams, he has the Vikings at No. 7 – behind only Dallas and the New York Giants in the NFC. While, like many fans and media, he has reservations about the Vikings' passing game, he said the Vikings could be the latest in a long line of teams that have jumped from out of the playoffs to deep into the playoffs in one year – joining Green Bay, New Orleans, Chicago and Pittsburgh over the previous four seasons. While he thinks the Jared Allen may have long-term implications (apparently not buying into Allen's newfound sobriety), he thinks the Vikings are set to make a big run in 2008. Expect King's optimism for the Vikings to be joined by a growing number of national media as the season gets closer. When the preseason football magazines come out, don't be shocked to see a lot of them picking the Vikings to win the NFC North.
It will be interesting to see how the pending labor problems (owners could be making 2009 the last year of the salary cap) could affect how teams approach free agency next year. While the franchise tag remains a way of keeping star players from hitting the open market, the top of next year's free agent class looks to be loaded, according to NFL.com. Linebacker Ray Lewis, wide receivers Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, Lee Evans and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, running backs Steven Jackson, Brandon Jacobs and Marion Barber, defensive ends Julius Peppers, Will Smith, defensive tackles Tommie Harris and Albert Haynesworth and cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Terence Newman could be poised to break the bank in free agency next year (if they don't sign extensions before then). If the Vikings don't re-sign Matt Birk and Darren Sharper, you can add their names to that impressive list.
ESPN reported how much cap space each team will be allocated to sign rookies for their 2008 draft class. Because the Vikings had just one pick in the first four rounds and five overall, they have the second-lowest cap amount for their rookie pool ($2,055,780). Only Cleveland, which didn't have a pick until the fourth round, has less with $1,789,980. As expected, Kansas City, which reaped a harvest of picks from the Vikings and made several trades during the draft, received the most money – $8,221,790 – to sign their 12 picks. Nine teams were allocated $5 million or more and 19 times have $4 million or more in cap room to sign their picks.
Since when did Dallas become Boy's Town? It used to be that the Raiders were the franchise that took players with bad reputations, but Dallas has truly become the king. The team already has Terrell Owens (run out of Philly), Pacman Jones (run out of Tennessee) and Tank Johnson (run out of Chicago). Now there are rumors that the Cowboys may have an interest in wide receiver Chris Henry, whose numerous arrests as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals led to his release despite the team being at an impasse with fellow wide receiver Chad Johnson. Apparently if you're a player with an axe to grind, Big D is home.