Tag Archives: Mario Williams

An Exercise in Futility

TT is averse to free agency, but this could be the year he breaks that trend.

Let’s be honest, talking free agency strategy with Ted Thompson running our squad has been mostly an exercise in futility. The way TT pinches pennies, you’d think he was Mitt Romney’s financial advisor. But, the few times he has dipped his toes in the free agency waters, he’s hit it big by plucking Woodson and Pickett. The Packers have few needs, and free agency might be a good route for TT to fill a need or two.

For starters, the Packers have approximately $6.9 million in cap space presently, which includes an added bonus of $1.6M thanks to Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder. That’s not a lot to wheel and deal, and I expect TT to create more cap space in the coming days. The two obvious candidates are DD and Clifton. Both players have been great players and representative for the Packers throughout their careers. But, it’s a cut-throat business and the Pack have younger and better players that need to see the playing field in their place – Cobb/Gurley and Newhouse. TT has always been one to cut a player one season too soon than too late (see Cullen Jenkins), and I expect this will be no different. Frankly, I’d love to see TT cut Mr. T-Rex arms (Hawk). I have no clue what the cap repercussions may be in doing so (if you can find this information out, please comment and I will update accordingly), but he’s a dud and replaceable. Regardless, if the Packers handle DD and Clifton, they would be sitting with approximately $12M – more than enough ammunition for TT to get to work in free agency.

Even though our defense is in desperate need of some upgrades, the biggest priority in free agency needs to be retaining or replacing Scott Wells. Numerous reports indicate Wells harbors vitriol towards the Packers because they attempted to replace him in years past and refuse to pay him top-5 money for his position. Wells may be in for a rude awakening, though, once he gets to free agency. After all, the same reasons the Packers have continually tried replacing him – short, stocky, and not a road grader – still exist. In fact, his value is probably the greatest with the Packers than any other team because of his familiarity with the system and it being a pass-oriented attack. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up resigning with the Packers once he sees his market is not nearly as big as he anticipates. This situation reminds me James Jones from last year in that respect.

In the event Wells signs elsewhere, there are a number of available centers in free agency. Chris Myers from Houston is regarded as the best available center. He comes from a zone-blocking scheme and led their top-ranked rushing attack. He’s also over-30, though. An interesting prospect is Samson Satele from Oakland. He’s younger at 27 and anchored the 2nd and 7th ranked rushing offenses the past two seasons. Otherwise, the Pack will have to look to the draft to replace Wells. A pair of Sconnie’s are regarded as two of the best available centers in the draft – Peter Konz (1st round grade) and Kevin Zeitler (guard, but might be better suited for C).

After Wells, then it’s a matter of finding the right fit for the right price on defense. Obviously, the Packers could use upgrades or depth at every position on defense. And, to beat you to the punch, Mario Williams is out of the question. He’s going to demand the biggest contract in NFL history for a defensive player, and the Packers have too many players to resign in future years – Matthews, Rodgers, Jennings, and Raji to name a few. So who, exactly, could the Packers target? Well, who the hell knows, but here’s a few names to keep in mind as the free agency madness gets into full-swing:

Mark Anderson – OLB for the Pats. He resurrected his career with the Pats this past season, recording 10 sacks. At 29, he’s still relatively young and would be an instant upgrade opposite Matthews. He won’t demand top-dollar, either, and would be the savvy, under-the-radar type move that may appeal to TT.

Kamerion Wimbley – OLB for Oakland. He’s under contract with Oakland, but his contract will require the Raiders to cut him soon. He’s 28 and is very athletic and talented at 6′-4″ and 255 lbs. He had 7 sacks this past season, and 9 the year before. In six full seasons, he has 42.5 sacks. Needless to say, he’d be a great compliment to Matthews. Unfortunately, his price tag will probably be too steep for TT.

Adam Carriker – DE for the Skins. He’s a former high draft pick that hasn’t panned out. But, he’s still only 28, and at 6′-6″ and 315 lbs., he could play at NT or DE in the 3-4. Starting in 15 games last season at the nose tackle position for the Skins’ 3-4 defense, he notched 5.5 sacks. Like Anderson, he’s not going to garner much immediate attention and should come on the cheap.

Tracy Porter – CB for the ‘Aints. Tracy Porter happens to be one of my favorite non-Packers player because of this play. Don’t forget, Porter is the player that iced the Super Bowl win with the late pick-six on Manning. He clearly does not shy from the big-moment and, at 26, he’s a player with a lot of potential still in him. Porter’s problem, though, has been staying healthy, having never survived a full season. And because of this, he might come cheaper than a young cornerback with his potential might otherwise.

Reggie Nelson – S for the Bungals. Nelson was another former high-draft pick that never made it with his original squad. He’s a safety the Packers may want to target for insurance in case Mr. Pick-Six cannot return. Nelson had a solid season last year with 85 tackles, 4 picks, and 2 sacks and fumbles apiece.

Do you sense a theme in the players listed above? It was intentional. Outside of Wimbley, they are players under-the-radar and not splashy. That’s how TT operates, and if he decides to dabble in the free agency pool, expect him to target these types of players – good fits at the right price. But, considering his last foray into free agency was the huge signing of Duke Preston, well, I’m tempering my expectations.

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Your Move Zygi

Well, if you believe the most recent “breaking” reports, the politicians of the Great State of Minnesota have decided to move forward with the construction of the latest and greatest multi-functional sports facility this side of Nicollet Avenue.  The expected cost of this facility has ranged between $900 million and $1 billion.  No small price tag considering the current state of the state’s financial statement.  But, that discussion is neither here nor…anywhere…oddly enough.

No, the following paragraphs are going to focus on what will happen next.  You see, of that roughly $1 billion price tag, the good people of the State of Minnesota are coughing up approximately $550 million.  Though, if you believe the Vikings website, that is a deal.  Evidently, residents in other NFL cities are picking 2/3 of the total tab.  WHAT A DEAL!!!  HOW LUCKY ARE WE!!!!

Zygi is all smiles after news of the stadium broke. Let's hope the people of Minnesota are also smiling after it is built.

Now that the congratulating is over (oh man, we are such good negotiators, we just agreed to build a billionaire a stadium) and the shovels are ready to be put into the ground, we did put ourselves in a position to do one thing: demand a quality product.

Gone should be the days of skimping on Free Agent signings or refraining from cutting loose on a bad signing and moving on to the next one.  Think the Vikings WR/DB situation for the past few years.  The people ponied up, the Vikings need to make a commitment to winning.  Now.

To that end, this year’s squad is in desperate need at three critical positions: WR, DB, and OL.  It appears as though Mount Kalil is going to be available at No. 3 in this year’s NFL Draft.  That covers a gaping OL hole.  But, the framework of this stadium deal should mean more than just trying to improve through the draft.

Ideally, it means locking down Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson, or one of the other marquee WRs.  Cheech Harvin is a dynamic WR, but, he needs a sidekick and either Bowe or VJax would be great.

To ensure those flankers get a workout in practice, the state’s splurge on the stadium also means locking down some Chris Cook insurance in the form of one of the following DBs: Cortland Finnigan, Terrell Thomas, or another decent options at DB.  And yes, that could even mean locking down dream-killer Tracy Porter.

Allen was looking for a sidekick all year last year. Super Mario could be just what the doctor ordered.

In an ideal world, Zygi and Co. make a push for Mario Williams.  He would be a great compliment to Ten Gallon Allen.  With the two of them coming off the edge, they would make even the most pedestrian DBs look like HOFers.    You could skip signing Finnegan or the other marquee DBs.  While playing in the Metrodome, getting the NFL’s version of Super Mario in purple was a pipe dream, but, now that we are moving next door to Mall America Field at Best Buy Stadium, signing Williams should definitely be in the cards.

In fact, while I am it, why stop there?  Rumors are swirling about how the Colts are going to release sure-fire HOFer, Peyton Manning.  If he is even back to 80%, the Vikes better be serious players in trying to land him.  That does not mean a courtesy dinner at Manny’s and a $500.00 gift to the MOA.  I want them to pull out all the stops.  Have AP wheel down to Manning’s pad in Nawleans and talk him into strapping it on for the purple.  Manning would be the perfect mentor to a young Christian Ponder.  The Vikes would be instant contenders, especially with the other free agent additions discussed above.

Now, before you all get on your email machines and tell me how impossible it would be to sign all of the  previously discussed free agents, save your time.  I get it.  There are financial considerations at play and not ALL of those candidates can be Vikings.  BUT,  these next few weeks are going to tell a lot about whether the people of Minnesota got duped or if the Vikes are serious about a quality product on the quality field that we are building them.  It is that commitment to seriously being involved in the conversation that we, as the bank, need to see.  Without that commitment, we are just like the other sports-hungry cities that got duped into paying for a new stadium.  Your move Wilf.