Vikings Distancing Themselves From NFC North Foes

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Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer

When I posted a claim that the Green Bay Packers’ offseason personnel moves indicated they were in a rebuilding mode, as opposed to a Super Bowl push, I got some of that “lol” criticism. Oh yeah? Well then, let me give you examples of some teams that are dead set at going after the Lombardi Trophy this season.

One such team is to the Packers’ immediate west. The big free agent prize of this offseason was quarterback Kirk Cousins, who got the bidding going by leaving the Redskins. The prize winner was none other than the Minnesota Vikings, even though they were in the astonishing position of having three quality quarterbacks in 2017 – Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater.

The Vikings and general manager Rick Spielman apparently weren’t convinced that any of their three QBs was enough to go all the way. Bradford is now with the Cardinals, Bridgewater is with the Jets and Keenum, their hero of 2017, is a Bronco. That, sports fans, is wheeling and dealing aimed at winning it all in 2019.

For what it’s worth, the Vikings also brought in Trevor Siemian as their backup quarterback, rather than paying starter-level money to any of their three 2017 QBs. Siemian is just what you’d want: entering his fourth season, he’s started 24 games for Denver, and his career passer rating of 79.9 is acceptable for a backup. The Vikings have covered their bases in case Cousins is injured – something the Packers failed to do in 2017.

As if that weren’t enough, even though they have one of the best defenses in the league, the Vikings went out and got defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson on a one-year deal for $8 million. Of 47 free agent defensive lineman, rotoworld.com rated Richardson below only Ndamukong Suh. Packers’ acquisition Muhammad Wilkerson was ranked fourth on that list.

The Vikings still have the resources to do some fine-tuning. They have more than $22 million of available cap space. That ranks them 10th best in the league and five spots higher than the 15th-ranked Packers, who have $17 million left to spend.

No one this side of Mike Daniels believes the Packers have much chance of finishing ahead of the Vikings in the NFC North race.

Los Angeles Rams: Wheeling and Dealing

NFL.com’s Adam Schein ranks one team higher than the Vikings when it comes to gearing up for a Super Bowl run: the Los Angeles Rams. That’s just great, as the Packers have to play them in 2018 in Los Angeles.

You could say that the Rams upgraded its defensive backfield.

The Rams first went out and got Marcus Peters, via a trade with the Chiefs in February. Peters was a first-team All-Pro in 2016, and he’s only 25 years old. In return for Peters and a sixth-round pick this year, the Rams gave up their fourth-round pick and their second-round pick next year. That’s wheeling.

The other first-team All-Pro cornerback of 2016 was a guy named Aqib Talib. Oh, the Rams got him too, in a trade with the Broncos a week before the start of free agency in March. What did the 10-year vet and five-time Pro Bowler cost? A fifth round draft choice. That’s dealing.

Like the Vikings, the Rams then proceeded to strengthen their defensive line by working out a one-year deal. Yes, on Monday Suh joined the Rams at a cost of $14 million. Suh joins reigning defensive player of the year Aaron Donald. That’s a duo with three first-team All-Pro honors apiece.

It’s Getting Unbearable

So who does writer Schein consider to be the team that has made the third-best improvements? Da Bears! As soon as the free agency gates opened, receiver Allen Robinson signed with Chicago for three years and $42 million. Then they added tight end Trey Burton, who spent his first four years with the Eagles. Burton signed for $32 million over four years.

Still not done, they added speedy and versatile receiver Taylor Gabriel, also a four-year veteran. All three of these deals were consummated on March 14, the first day of free agency. The Bears had a plan and they executed it without any hesitation.

As many Packers fans know, the Bears’ GM Ryan Pace didn’t blink when the Packers made an offer to cornerback Kyle Fuller, to whom the Bears had attached the transition tag. Pace, undoubtedly with the approval of new head coach Matt Nagy, decided immediately to match the Packers offer of $56 million over four years.

In a bit of gamesmanship, Pace waited for five days before making the deal official, tying up the Packers’ offer money as long as he could. Not gentlemanly, but a good hardball tactic. Schein believes that QB Mitch Trubisky is now primed for a breakout second season.

The Packers, meanwhile, must play these three teams and their aggressive front offices five times in the upcoming season. The hill just got steeper for Green Bay.

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

20 Comments on "Vikings Distancing Themselves From NFC North Foes"

  1. DT

    Would you guys calm the fuck down? Everyday it is the same gloom, doom and cynicism about how 2018 is going to be a disaster. It’s MARCH.

    I’m inclined to believe the Packers might not be great this year given that a new group of coaches and front office guys need to gel in order to figure it all out. But you can assume that a healthy Rodgers will at least keep it interesting, even if they don’t win the North.

    And if they somehow miss the playoffs, well you can say goodbye to McCarthy, which most of us want anyway.

  2. Sanguine camper

    Cousins is fine when there is no pressure. Put him under pressure against a good pass rush and he panics. He will have great games and then throw the big pick in the playoffs kind of like another qb we know well.

  3. Carl DeLuca

    Keenum was actually better than Cousins last year. And the Bears are still terrible until further nothing. Plus, being aggressive in FA often doesn’t work, but that doesn’t fit with Rob’s constant bitching so it’s mentioned.

    • KILLER

      Yes, by QB rating, last year. However, any personnel guy will tell you Cousins is the better QB.

      Keep in mind he was playing on a losing squad with many offensive line injuries and two new WRs, injured TE, etc. Meanwhile Keenum had a great D, a good o-line, a good run game, and the best WR combo in the league and an injury-free TE.

      If we did 2017 over again with Keenum in Washington and Cousins in Minnesota, barring injury, 10 out of 10 times Cousins would have the higher QB rating. The to previous years Cousins rating would have exceeded 2017 Keenum and totally eclipsed any other year Keenum.

      Keenum is a great guy and a very good QB. I wish him all the best. I think he will do great in Denver. That said the Vikings greatly upgraded at the most important position in football.

      • PF4L

        Was Keenum a very good QB before last season?

        Was Keenum a very good QB in the NFCCG?

        NFCCG…2 back up QB’s. One had a 141.4 passer rating. One had a 63.8 passer rating. Guess which one was Keenum and win a ice cream cone.

        Bonus question for a Pizza Hut $20 gift certificate: Who last won a NFCCG in 1976?

    • KILLER

      You lost both your games against the losers last year and the division to them 2 of the last 3 years. If the Vikings are losers then that makes the Packers mega super complete losers. But, of course, the Vikings are not losers. 13-3 last year. My math isn’t great but that looks like 13 wins and 3 losses. With a win in the playoffs as well which means they won twice as many games as the Packers last year!

      Well, they did not get to and win the Super Bowl. Neither did 30 other teams. Guess they’re all losers to Dennis.

      Point of this article (one of them) is that even though the Packers are poor they’ve done little to improve while the Vikings, excelling, still did a ton and a half to improve. The contrast is stark.

      Gute the Bad, MM, and Gravyhead rely on fans like you to ignore their mismanagement.

      • PF4L

        Without Rodgers, the Packers almost lost to Cleveland, the Bears, and Tampa Bay, so what’s your point? Those 3 teams had a combined record of….they suck.

        I can see where you would hang your hat on beating the Pack twice last season, but that didn’t help you win a NFCCG did it? Or even be competitive did it? Matter of fact, your whole team pretty much shit the bed with diarrhea and laid in it the whole game, amirite Barney?

      • Deepsky

        Another mercenary quarterback for the Vikings. Ho hum. It will be the same results.

        Even Tarkenton was average until he went to the Giants where they developed him.

  4. Ferris

    But their coach has already surrendered to the curse. He said this year is not Superbowl or bust. Tell that to those mouth breather fans. That way when they lose in the playoffs he can say….see?

    • KILLER

      What the hell is super bowl or bust anyway? Stupidity and misconception. Every year every team wants to win the super bowl. They sign players. They draft players. Every team tries their hardest (except for the Packers last two games last year, this off season, and next entire season or maybe two). If you sign a good player it is suddenly Super Bowl or bust? You draft in the Top 10 and it is Super Bowl or bust?

      What will “bust” if a team does not make the Super Bowl? The spleen? The dam?

      We’re giving it our best shot instead of sitting on our hands or making bad trades or alienating fans, team, and QB by cutting one of the best players in an insensible fashion. Like the Packers. No one can guarantee a Super Bowl. You increase your assets and make the best choices you can to put yourself in a position to get there.

      Zimmer is absolutely right that this year is not “Super Bowl or bust”. He should also have laughed in the face of whoever asked such a ridiculous question.

      And, if you don’t win it? Well, you don’t “bust”. You go back and try again. Unless you are today’s Packers.

      • PF4L

        Super Bowl!? Are we talking Super Bowl?! Were not talking regular season, we’re talking Super Bowl??

        Zimmer is absolutely right that this year is not “Super Bowl or bust”. He should also have laughed in the face of whoever asked such a ridiculous question because everyone knows that to get to a Super Bowl, you have to actually win a NFCCG.

        So maybe it’s NFCCG or bust. As a reminder, the queens did win a NFCCG back in 1976. That was only 42 years ago, so it could happen again, amirite Barney?

  5. cz

    Vikings choked
    AND BADLY
    when it mattered the most.
    If they recover, Delvin Cook, will be the biggest reason for any improvement.

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