NFL Free Agency: Why Rick Spielman's Approach Is Right for Minnesota Vikings

Sammy SucuSenior Analyst IMarch 17, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 1: Percy Harvin #12 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during the game against the Chicago Bears on January 1, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Rick Spielman is doing the right thing by not overpaying for good talent in free agency.

Spielman's philosophy on how to rebuild the Vikings is exactly what the team needs. 

We're going to be patient with this. We're going to strike when we feel there's a player out there that can help us win ballgames. The ownership has always given us the financial backing we need to go get players if we need to get them. But we're also going to be very patient and prudent as we go through this.

I know plenty of our needs are going to be filled through the draft, but we are not done yet. We are still looking at (unrestricted free agents) as we go along in this process, and we'll continue to monitor that. There may be a couple guys coming in (for visits) over the next couple of weeks. We'll continue to add players as we see fit.

By letting the free-agent market settle and focusing more on the draft, Spielman is helping the franchise realize there is no quick fix and that the team needs to build around young talent to be successful for the long haul. 

The Vikings have made only made a few moves so far this offseason. All of the moves were not the prettiest, but they were the right moves.

The Vikes needed to add another tight end because offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's knack for running two-tight end sets. The signing of free-agent tight end John Carlson was the right move because it helped out the offense, gave Kyle Rudolph the ability to focus less on blocking and more on receiving, and it helped in add some beef to the offensive line. 

Although many think that the Vikes overpaid for Carlson, they actually got quite a bargain. According to Tom Pelissero of, the contract could end up only being a cheap two year deal.

John Carlson's five-year, $25 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings could end up being a two-year, $11 million pact, depending how the veteran tight end produces.

According to a source with access to NFL salary data, only $9.1 million of the deal Carlson signed on Wednesday is truly guaranteed—a $5 million signing bonus, plus Carlson's full $2.9 million base salary in 2012 and $1.2 million of his $2.9 million base salary in 2013.

The rest is tied up in scheduled base salaries of $3.9 million in 2014 and $4.9 million in 2015 and '16, plus annual workout bonuses of $100,000. It's the sort of pay-as-you-go deal the Vikings have used for years to keep their cap healthy.

Carlson's signing was also crucial because it seems as if Visanthe Shiancoe will likely not re-join the team as he is already meeting with the Seattle Seahawks.

The Vikings also re-signed free-agent defensive tackles Fred Evans and Letroy Guion to two- and three-year deals respectively. These moves were great because the Vikes needed to ensure they had enough beef on the defensive line. Now Spielman can take his focus off trying to find a starting nose tackle because it has been reported that Guion will play that position for the team. 

Spielman will likely look into signing another wide receiver, but all signs point to the Vikings finding a couple in the draft and developing them. This is the right move to make because some of the wide receivers left in the free-agent pool may ask for more money than they are worth. Wide receivers are tricky, and the Vikes may feel more comfortable trying to develop one of their own. 

What Spielman and the Vikings management have done so far is focused on the team's youth movement. They can not be blamed for this because the Vikings are not the same team they were in 2009. The higher-ups in the organization and the fans all need to realize there is no pill that will easily fix all these problems for the team.

It will take some time to develop the team into a Super Bowl contender, and it would be hard to do that if the team would bring in coveted free agents who may flat line after they received their big paycheck. 

Fortunately for the Vikings' sake, Rick Spielman has realized this fact. The draft is where the Vikings will fill all of their positions. Hopefully for everyone involved with the team, those positions are permanent solutions. 


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