Sat, 17 Apr 2021

Lunchbreak: Imagining 'Splash Free Agents' the Vikings Could Target

Minnesota Vikings
25 Feb 2021, 20:37 GMT+10

Lindsey Young

The Vikings and other NFL teams are eagerly waiting the finalization of the salary cap for 2021.

After predictable increases for multiple years that helped Minnesota re-sign multiple players the organization drafted and developed, the cap could take a hit because or revenue losses brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cap casualties could occur, and the team may be limited as to how adventurous it can be in free agency this year.

Arif Hasan of The Athletic recently had some fun with hypothetical situations for Minnesota, saying that depending on how the team creates cap space, "big-money free agents are likely just within reach for the Vikings."

Hasan tabbed five candidates who "fit the bill," starting with division-rival receiver Allen Robinson II. Hasan wrote:

This is a fairly unlikely proposition - especially with the prospect of the franchise tag on the table [for the Bears] - but all of the players on this list are long shots. Helping with any potential recruitment effort is the year of overlap Allen Robinson had with Minnesota wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell in 2017.

Hasan added that having Kirk Cousins as a quarterback "might be appealing" for Robinson considering the recent instability at that position in Chicago.

Should Robinson find himself subject to the franchise tag or get a sweeter deal elsewhere, the Vikings would still be able to swing big for Kenny Golladay or Chris Godwin. The next step down might be Corey Davis or Curtis Samuel, both of whom still would be valuable assets.

The other players on Hasan's list are Washington guard Brandon Scherff, Buccaneers edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, Bengals cornerback William Jackson and ... Vikings safety Anthony Harris.

This wouldn't be the shock to the system other "splash" signings would be because it simply revives the familiar rather instead of injecting fresh blood into the franchise. But a talented player familiar with the complex defensive system Zimmer wants to run is likely a better deal than a new player whose talents might not be a great fit.

Coming off of a relatively down year, Harris still has several years of strong play on his resume to point to when negotiating his contract. His combined PFF grade over the last three years ranks sixth among all safeties, one spot behind Harrison Smith.

Harris played 2020 on the franchise tag in a rare use of the policy by the Vikings.

Cook Joins Former Twins Pitcher in 'Fan-Controlled Football' Venture

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is dipping his toe into the waters of team ownership.

Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune wrote about Cook joining former Twins pitcher Trevor May among the owners of Zappers, one of four Fan Controlled Football teams playing in the semipro league's inaugural six-week season. The league debuted on Feb. 13 and plans to play all games on a 50-yard field at an arena in the suburbs of Atlanta.

Goessling wrote:

Everything from team branding to roster decisions, rule changes and play-calling is controlled by fans, who vote in a weekly online draft about which players should make the rosters. The 7-on-7 games are streamed on Twitch. The league said it received more than 700,000 total live views for its first week of games, peaking with more than 35,000 concurrent viewers at one point during the Zappers game against the Beasts.

The league applies some customs from Madden NFL video games and fantasy sports. Clubs can protect two players, but the rest of their rosters are determined by the weekly draft until the playoffs, when rosters lock.

The Zappers used their two tags on Cook's cousin, running back Anthony Jones, and quarterback Johnny Manziel. The former Heisman Trophy winner last played in the Alliance of American Football, which folded in 2019.

According to Goessling, "teams operate from a league-wide playbook, and coaches create a call sheet before each game."

During games, fans can pick between four run plays or four pass plays at a time, and teams run the play selected by the most fans. If the play doesn't work, the quarterback has to improvise, which is why, Cook said, quarterbacks like Manziel and the former Bengal and Colt Quinton Flowers can be good in this league.

San Francisco cornerback Richard Sherman and former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch are also co-owners of FCF teams.

Cook told Goessling he plans to be in Atlanta for the league's playoffs.

"It's different, because you never know what the play call is going to be," Cook said. "You've got some fans thinking one way, and you've got other fans thinking a certain way. I think that's the most curious part about it: you want to know how fans think. I think that's the most fun part about it."

The Zappers fell to 0-2 last week, dropping a 29-28 contest in the first overtime game in league history. They play again at 7 p.m. (CT) Saturday.

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