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PFT Live heads to the Scouting Combine this week

By Mike Florio Three weeks ago today, the 2016 NFL season ended. In just three days, one of the three major offseason tentpole events arrives. It’s the Scouting Combine, and PFT Live will be broadcasting from Indianapolis on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. As usual, we’ll be on from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 ET on NBC Sports Radio, with…

Source:: ProFootballTalk

Countdown to free agency: Should Martellus Bennett intrigue the Vikings?

By Matthew Coller

2The next big NFL date is March 9, when the new league year begins and free agency opens. The Minnesota Vikings are expected to be active in free agency, so as we make our way toward the start of the signing period, we will go position-by-position, analyzing which free agents the Vikings could/should be interested in. We began with the quarterbacks, then went on to the running backs, then the wide receivers, the left tackles, the right tackles, the guards, the centers and now the tight ends…

Another weapon?

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph had his best career season by far with 83 receptions and 840 yards in 2016, solidifying the position for Minnesota for the foreseeable future. But in this ever-passing world we live in, the Vikings should be in the market for any type of playmaker than can find, including at the tight end spot. When new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was in Philadelphia, the Eagles completed 102 passes on 147 targets to tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, so the Vikings might be interested in using the position more in the 2017 offense. They will need a playmaker first. While Rhett Ellison (currently a UFA) was fairly effective the few times he was targeted, the Vikings did not have a big body would could stretch the middle of the field. At one time, MyCole Pruitt appeared to be that player, but he was picked up by the Chicago Bears off Minnesota’s practice squad. Here are the possible playmaking tight end targets:

Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots

2016 receiving stats: 55 catches on 73 targets, 701 yards, seven touchdowns

Facing off with Bennett, Rudolph, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen would be a pretty scary task for opponents and might even be cheaper than keeping Cordarrelle Patterson or signing a top free agent receiver. New England’s 6-foot-7, 250-pound tight end stepped in after superstar Rob Gronkowski suffered a season-ending injury. Bennett was ranked third by Football Outsiders and 10th by Pro Football Focus. Of course, playing with Tom Brady doesn’t hurt, but even when Bennett was a top target of Jay Cutler’s, he performed at a high level, catching 90 passes in 2014. The top tight ends make between $7-$10 million, while there are currently 15 receivers making over $10 million per season.

There are many other factors outside of production and price. Bennett called his former teammates “b—-es” after he left Chicago and is active politically and on Twitter. That might not sit well with the way Mike Zimmer likes his locker room. Also, the Vikings already have invested $7.3 million per year on Rudolph and could be primed to spend big at other positions like offensive tackle.

Jacob Tamme, Atlanta Falcons

2016 receiving stats: (Five games) 22 catches on 31 targets, 210 yards, three touchdowns

Tamme doesn’t mess around with mediocre quarterbacks. During his career, the veteran tight end has only played with Peyton Manning or Matt Ryan. But there is probably a reason that they keep throwing him the ball. In 23 total games as a Falcon over two years, he caught 81 passes with more than 70% of passes in his direction being caught. At 6-foot-4, 240-pounds, he doesn’t quite bring along the size of a tight end like Bennett, but acts as a reliable No. 2 and won’t bring along anywhere close to the price tag.

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

2016 receiving stats: 59 catches on 75 targets, 584 yards, five touchdowns

While his name may sound a lot more like a politician than an NFL player, Andrew Luck would vote Doyle as one of his top receiving targets as he caught 78.7% of throws in his direction. You won’t find the former Western Kentucky tight end running any DeSean Jackson-type routes, but he did show some capability down the field and in the red zone with 13 catches and four touchdowns on throws over 10 yards in the air.

Vernon Davis, Washington

2016 receiving stats: 44 receptions on 59 targets, 583 yards, two touchdowns

He may be 33 years old, but Davis proved he can still play. As the Vikings might recall, the former 49er and Bronco still has the speed and hands to make plays down the field, averaging 13.3 Yards Per Reception and catching four passes of more than 20 yards the air. He turned out to be one of the best free agent bargains last year, making just $2.4 million on a one-year deal. Davis’s durability has been incredible over his 11-year career, playing 14 or more games every year since 2007.

Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins

2016 receiving stats: (three games) eight receptions on 11 targets, 60 yards, one touchdown

For a single season, Cameron was a top-notch receiving tight end. Unfortunately that season gets farther and farther in the rear view mirror. Back in 2013, the former Cleveland Brown caught 80 passes and seven touchdowns, but he only has 67 receptions in the three years since and has battled injuries. Miami did not get what they paid for when they signed him to a two-year, $15 million deal before the 2015 season. Red flags may be everywhere, but a low-money, one-year deal might turn out to be a boon if Cameron can get healthy.

Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders

2016 receiving stats: 18 receptions on 25 targets, 192 yards, one touchdown

From a significant part of the offense to barely a role player, Rivera has seen his reception totals cut from 58 in 2014 down to only a handful last year. The biggest reason: He isn’t a quality run blocker. Oakland preferred to play Clive Walford and Lee Smith in run situations, which limited Rivera’s snap counts. But if the Vikings are looking for a pure receiving tight end, the Los Angeles native could step in, so long as they add a run blocker, too.

Jermaine Gresham, Arizona Cardinals

2016 receiving stats: 37 catches on 61 targets, 391 yards, two touchdowns

After a solid career in Cincinnati, Gresham never really caught on as a significant part of the Cardinals’ offense, catching just 55 passes in two years – that’s fewer than in his final year with the Bengals. Gresham, who is a two-time Pro Bowler, may have seen his production slide, but he is only 28 and has not faced many serious injuries. He could still be productive in a No. 2 role, but, like several of the other top tight ends, Gresham is not a very successful run blocker.

See the entire list of free agent tight ends here

The post Countdown to free agency: Should Martellus Bennett intrigue the Vikings? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

What will the top free agent linemen cost? ESPN’s Clayton gives his estimates

By Matthew Coller

Cash rules everything around NFL free agency and the Minnesota Vikings may have cream to spend when the signing period opens on March 9. However, at the moment, just how much it will cost the to sign top offensive linemen is not exactly clear.

But in an article for ESPN Insider, veteran NFL reporter John Clayton provided us with a rough outline for his top 25 free agents based on market value. Of those 25, five are offensive linemen who might be targeted by the Vikings. So let’s have a look at his estimate and what that might mean for the Vikings.

(Note: Clayton is clear in his article that there will always be teams willing to go far out of the price range to land a player).

LT – Andrew Whitworth – Cincinnati Bengals

Clayton estimate: One year, $10 million

Of all the linemen on the market, Whitworth will be the most sought after, meaning that the reasonable market price for a top-notch 35-year-old tackle versus what he will actually receive will probably be quite different. With more than a half dozen teams in the mix, it would make sense for Whitworth to not only look to make the most money of any tackle in 2017 but also aim for a multi-year deal, even if it’s a team friendly one. If the Vikings could actually get Whitworth for one year, $10 million, they would jump for joy.

OG – Kevin Zeitler – Cincinnati Bengals

Clayton estimate: Four years, $36 million

Clayton’s price for Zeitler would rank him third among all guards for Average Annual Value. Not only is the Bengals’ guard the highest rated interior offensive linemen on the market by Pro Football Focus, he is only 26 years old, meaning that he will be mid-prime for the entire length of the deal. The biggest question about putting $9 million per year into Zeitler is whether spending big money at the guard spot is too much considering the number of possible solid replacements.

OG – TJ Lang – Green Bay Packers

Clayton estimate: Three years, $26.5 million total

At 29 years old, there would be more concern about Lang breaking down than Zeitler, but his performance last season played an integral role in Aaron Rodgers’ MVP-caliber season and the Packers’ solid running game. Getting a guard of Lang’s caliber, track record and consistency is rare, so Clayton’s estimated contract would be a bargain.

OG – Larry Warford – Detroit Lions

Clayton estimate: Four years, $32 million total

Both Warford and free agent right tackle Riley Reiff could walk away from the Lions if one of them isn’t franchise tagged and you can see why when you look at the price tag. While Warford was rated the 20th best guard in the NFL by Pro Football Focus last season, he was ranked mid-pack for two of his four years in the league, which isn’t exactly the same as similarly-priced guards Zeitler and Lang. The 26-year-old guard is known for being a superb run blocker, which may attract the Vikings.

RT – Ricky Wagner – Baltimore Ravens

Clayton estimate: Four years, $28 million

What Wagner is looking for and what he’ll get offered might be two very different things if Clayton’s price comes to fruition.’s Greg Rosenthal hinted that Wagner might be looking in the range of $10 million per year. Of course, that’s left tackle money, but the Ravens’ solid right tackle will be looking to take advantage of teams’ desperation. And in the case of the Vikings, yes, they’re desperate and would probably love if he accepted a four-year, $28 million deal.

The post What will the top free agent linemen cost? ESPN’s Clayton gives his estimates appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Zulgad: If Bradford isn’t the answer, Vikings’ future doesn’t look all that bright

By Judd Zulgad

Sam Bradford established an NFL single-season record in 2016 by completing 71.6 passes in his first year with the Vikings. But Bradford’s ability to find open receivers hasn’t left many clamoring for the Vikings to extend the quarterback’s contract beyond the $18 million he will be owed in the final season of his deal in 2017.

This comes after the Vikings got off to a 5-0 start this season with Bradford taking over as the starter in Week 2. The hot start was followed by a tailspin that doomed the Vikings to an 8-8 finish. Bradford went from being praised to being considered too conservative and not the answer.

Bradford, the top-overall pick in the 2010 draft by the St. Louis Rams, undoubtedly would welcome a multi-year contract extension this offseason. To no one’s surprise, general manager Rick Spielman did not tip his hand on his plans during a pre-combine meeting with the media on Thursday.

Spielman did say Bradford is in “the prime of his career” and added that given another chance he would pull the trigger in a “mini-second” on the trade he made just before the season that sent a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick to Philadelphia for the veteran.

The trade was made necessary after starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated left knee, as well as a torn ACL and other torn ligaments, during a preseason practice at Winter Park.

This was no normal injury. This was a catastrophic knee injury that required Bridgewater to be transported to the hospital in an ambulance and put his football future in jeopardy. That was the case the moment Bridgewater crumpled to the turf at Winter Park and remains the case now.

I don’t mean to spoil your day if you’re a Vikings fan, but you had better hope that Bradford is the answer. If he’s not a team that a year ago was considered a favorite to compete in the NFC is going to have to deal with a familiar problem that is the difference between being a contender and a potential also-ran.

Spielman rarely divulges any useful information in interviews, but it was pretty easy to determine that the Vikings have no idea when or if the second of their two 2014 first-round draft picks will return.

Six months after his knee gave out, despite the fact there was no contract, Bridgewater is doing no football-related activities and Spielman is saying less-than-assuring things such as “Teddy is attacking his rehab as diligently as he can,” and “I know he’s doing specific things in rehab to get him back to being functional.”

That doesn’t sound like a GM who expects to see Bridgewater take the field in 2017.

Bridgewater was supposed to be the guy to finally end Spielman’s run of having no luck in finding someone to play the most important position on his team. Spielman joined the Vikings in 2006 as vice president of player personnel and was promoted to GM after the 2011 season.

Since Spielman’s arrival in Minnesota, the Vikings have had 14 quarterbacks make starts, including Brad Johnson, Tarvaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, Gus Frerotte, Brett Favre, Joe Webb, Christian Ponder, Donovan McNabb, Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman, Bridgewater, Bradford and Shaun Hill.

If you want to blame former coach Brad Childress for the QB issues from 2006 through 2010, then Spielman is responsible for Ponder, McNabb, Cassel, Freeman, Bridgewater, Bradford and Hill. Hill’s start comes with an asterisk because it was only the 2016 opener and came because Bradford was not ready to start a few days after being acquired. Nonetheless, the first four names on that list are draft picks or acquisitions that Spielman would like to forget.

The Vikings have built a formidable defense under coach Mike Zimmer, but that’s not going to matter if the team doesn’t have a quarterback who can be considered more than competent. The Vikings were banking on Bridgewater being that QB for years to come and now he’s left trying to get back to simply being functional.

That means Bradford, now with his third team and set to turn 30 next November, is the Vikings’ best hope to be the quarterback of the future. If you don’t think Bradford can be that guy, that means the Vikings’ immediate future looks pretty bleak.

The post Zulgad: If Bradford isn’t the answer, Vikings’ future doesn’t look all that bright appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Audubon Society: U.S. Bank Stadium Is Deadliest Building In Metro For Birds

By Vikings – WCCO | CBS Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Audubon Society of Minneapolis says U.S. Bank Stadium kills more birds than any other building in the metro.

The group addressed the issue at Friday’s Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority meeting.

The Society says its reported 74 dead birds so far this migration season. A previous study found an average of 42 dead birds a year from the city’s previous most fatal building.

The Society says there’s been a lack of action on bird safety at the stadium. It’s asking the agency to do something about the issue, like treat the glass, or put up flags or banners.

Source:: CBS Minnesota

Pelissero on Possible Scenarios with Peterson

Tom Pelissero joins “Up to the Minute” to discuss the most likely scenarios regarding the Minnesota Vikings attempting to keep running back Adrian Peterson for the 2017 season.

Source:: Minnesota Vikings: Videos

Pelissero: Stability at QB will Help Treadwell

By NFL Network USA Today writer Tom Pelissero discusses the development of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.

Source:: Minnesota Vikings: Videos

Adrian Peterson is perplexed that people doubt him

By Michael David Smith Vikings running back Adrian Peterson knows a lot of people doubt he can ever return to his past greatness, but he doesn’t understand why. Peterson told Josina Anderson of ESPN he’s perplexed by that talk. Peterson notes that he has previously recovered from a serious knee injury to have an MVP season, and he notes…

Source:: ProFootballTalk

U.S. Bank Stadium Panel At Full Strength After Resignations

By Vikings – WCCO | CBS Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The oversight body for the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium is back at full strength after controversy surrounding its use of luxury suites sparked a leadership exodus.

Minnesota Sports Facility Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen and executive director Ted Mondale both resigned last week. Their exit followed months of criticism about the authority giving tickets in two luxury suites to friends and family members.

The authority on Friday approved Jim Farstad to fill Mondale’s role on an interim basis. It follows Gov. Mark Dayton’s Thursday appointment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz as interim chairwoman.

Farstad is a current technology consultant for the stadium oversight board. He’ll be paid at the same rate as Mondale, who made more than $165,000 annually.

The roles are critical as Minnesota prepares to host the 2018 Super Bowl.

Kelm-Helgen released a statement early Friday afternoon:

I accepted this assignment four and a half years ago, and today, I again chair this board’s 76th public meeting. While this process has not always been easy, or perfect, and I take full responsibility for my mistakes, I believe we have overall, done good work in the public’s interest. We delivered a fully functional, world-class stadium for the people of Minnesota on time, and on budget. This is truly an amazing facility! Today is my final meeting, but the important work of the Stadium Authority continues. I promise you, I am committed to working towards a smooth transition over the next few weeks, to help ensure its continued success.

I am convinced this transition will be successful, thanks to the exceptional staff, consultants, and board members of the Authority. Together, your knowledge and experience of the work that has gone on, and the challenges that are yet to come, will continue serve the public well; that continuity will be important. I welcome and thank our newest board member and soon-to-be Chair, Kathleen Blatz, for agreeing to take on this challenging and important role. I have worked with her this past week, and I am confident she will provide the excellent leadership needed to steady the ship, and keep the stadium operating at top performance.

Many people have committed years of work to make this stadium a reality, and a success for the people of Minnesota. I believe we all share the goal of doing whatever we can to continue that success. Many thanks to each of you, including our wonderful staff, consultants, the Minnesota Vikings, Mortenson Construction and HKS Architects for your years of support, partnership, and ongoing work on behalf of the stadium and the Minnesotans it serves. I know you will continue to do great work! It has been an honor to serve with all of you and I wish you the very best.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Source:: CBS Minnesota

Are Vikings fans ready to move on from Adrian Peterson?

By Mike Florio The Vikings have yet to offer running back Adrian Peterson a contract that would pay him less than the $18 million he is due to earn in 2017. It’s unclear whether they will. From a P.R. standpoint, there’s a good reason for the Vikings to make Peterson an offer, even if it’s an offer he…

Source:: ProFootballTalk