Now, with the first two preseason games complete, we can step back and analyze some of the moves that the Vikings made in the 2011 offseason. In the short days that were this year's free agency, the Vikings were among the most active teams, making a lot of news with their transactions.
While the team did lose some very big names in Ray Edwards and Sidney Rice, the Vikings went out and got some very good players, namely Donovan McNabb.
Here are the top five roster moves that the Vikings made this offseason.
Ever since Daunte Culpepper was traded to the Miami Dolphins, the Vikings have been without a real solution to the team's long-term quarterbacking problems. The Vikings continually started a quarterback at the brink of retirement (Brett Favre, Brad Johnson, Gus Ferrotte, Brooks Bollinger) and it seemed like each year they would draft a quarterback, not giving him much hope. (Tarvaris Jackson, Joe Webb, John David Booty, Tyler Thigpen).
In 2011, the Vikings made a serious attempt at solving the long-term quarterback issue. They drafted Christian Ponder out of Florida State as the 12th overall pick. Ponder is very smart and will pick up the Vikings offense quickly. Ponder has all of 2011 to be mentored by Donovan McNabb, so he will get great teaching early in his career.
By making this move, the Vikings have put themselves in great position quarterback-wise for the next 10 years. All Ponder needs to do is live up to the hype.
The single, most bloated salary in the Minnesota Vikings organization was that of left tackle Bryant McKinnie. McKinnie was brilliant at the U (No, not Minnesota) not letting up a sack his entire collegiate career.
His time at Minnesota has been rather disappointing. It never really seemed like he was trying and has had quite a few blunders in his career such as the infamous love boat incident and several off-the-field scuffles. Not to mention, he showed up to camp overweight, almost 40 pounds heavier than the end of last season. That is not a person who should be leading the young players on the Vikings line.
With McKinnie out of the picture, opportunities have been made available to young Chris DeGeare and former Colts tackle Charlie Johnson. With the cap room that the Vikings recover from cutting McKinnie, all they will need is mediocre play out of the new left tackle and they will break even on the deal, if not come out ahead.
Had there been no lockout, Donovan McNabb may not have been a necessary player to get. McNabb was traded for in order to be a bridge until young Christian Ponder was ready to start. There were very few options that were better than McNabb to fit this role for the Vikings.
It is clear that McNabb is in control of the offense, something that Joe Webb and Tarvaris Jackson lacked. McNabb is comfortable in the pocket and can move when he needs to. The Vikings just needed a veteran that would not make mistakes. They got more than that in McNabb, who has thrown 230 touchdowns and 115 interceptions.
One thing that is for sure is that McNabb knows how to win. He has been to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. With McNabb at the helm this season, the Vikings put themselves in a position to make a run at the playoffs.
With Pat Williams out, the Vikings needed a big man to take his place. Williams was a symbol of the Vikings defense ever since he came to the Vikings from Buffalo. With declining playing time and a suspension looming from the NFL, Williams decided it was time to move on. The man signed to replace him is NT Remi Ayodele.
Remember that hit on Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship game? Ayodele was in on the tackle. He was instrumental in the Saints victory over the Vikings in that game. To Vikings fans, that game may still rile up emotions, but Ayodele will be a welcome addition.
At 6' 2", 318 pounds, Ayodele is just as big as Williams but he has not put up the numbers that Williams has. However, he will be the No. 3 or No. 4 priority on the defensive line for offensive lines preparing for the Vikings . Look for his numbers to improve and him to have a solid showing in 2011.
The Jackson experiment was long and unsuccessful. After being drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft, he was Brad Childress' pet project, one that ultimately led to his demise as head coach. Jackson has played in 35 NFL games, has only thrown 24 touchdowns and has a career quarterback rating of 86.0.
With the drafting of Christian Ponder, it was apparent that the Vikings were moving in a new direction. One that did not include Jackson. While Jackson is young and mobile in the pocket, the older McNabb can still move—not to mention, he is an accurate passer who knows how to win.
Jackson has been reunited with his offensive coordinator Derrel Bevel and star receiver Sidney Rice out in Seattle and he is the clear No. 1, something that he never had in Minnesota. It was time for a change at quarterback, as his last five seasons have been nothing more than mediocre in Minnesota.