With all the hub-bub surrounding free agency, and the terrible timing social media posts by Riki Ellison regarding the “Toxic Leadership” and perpetual cycle of rebuilding that he claimed the team has been under since Rick Spielman took the helm, it’s safe to say that Vikings fans have been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster this past week plus. However, this week, combined with the signings done late last week, have done a lot to allay those fears (In me) and present a team that is both on the same page and still working fervently to win a championship.
As I’ve said a few times, I can’t count how many times last season fans left comments on our page like “If we only had a decent offensive line…”, well at this point (at least on paper) it appears that the Vikings will at least have that, especially with former center and current jack of a couple trades, Joe Berger returning. So, despite the fact that I am still seeing the following on our page, in response to the signing of former Raiders running back Latavius Murray:
… I think that Vikings fans should be pretty happy about the signings that they’ve made on the offensive line, and really the ones they haven’t. Can you imagine if they had paid $11 million dollars per season, again, to Matt Kalil? Perspective, people!
With that, I would argue that they’re in a pretty good position, especially with the draft still coming up. Now, speaking of the draft, after the beginning of free agency I will admit I was one of the people who were relatively spooked about the moves (Or lack of moves) that the Vikings were making in light of the (as it’s been described, my Ellision Sr. at least) “Mass exodus” of players from the Vikings. My fear was that the Vikings were accumulating more needs than they could possibly address in the draft as opposed to addressing and eliminating those needs. The Vikings went into free agency with two main needs, a starting quality running back and the offensive line (Which was more than one need by itself).
After losing Captain Munnerlyn, Audie Cole, Rhett Ellison, Charles Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jeff Locke it appeared that the Vikings needs grew tremendously to nickel corner, wide receiver, punter and even linebacker in addition to offensive line and running back. By adding Latavius Murray, re-signing wide receiver Adam Thielen and corner Terrance Newman the Vikings have effectively stopped some of the bleeding (of players leaving) and also have addressed a major need by bringing in Murray to replace Peterson. Sure, resigning players isn’t the same as adding them, but it does prove one thing that Ellison said simply wasn’t true.
If the leadership was truly as “toxic” as Ellison said it was, would Thielen or Newman either decide to stay with the team? Would Murray, most likely the most coveted free agent running back, sign here? Then there’s the response that vocal left guard Alex Boone had to Riki Ellison’s comments, which you can view in a video here:
So, while ill-timed, it appears that Ellison’s comments are just the parting words of a mouthy weirdo. So why even cover them? Well, because they seemed to point to a team that was yet again at the stage where they needed to completely rebuild. After a half a decade of building an elite defense, if true, it’d be extremely disheartening as someone who has chosen to cover the team as a job and especially as a fan, to have the team decide to start over by shedding contracts. But like most things that Ellison said, this doesn’t (As fellow purplePTSD.com writer Joe Oberle said) pass the smell test.
Would a team that’s rebuilding bring in an elite running back? Would they bother bringing back a soon to be 39 year old corner? I doubt it. But, that doesn’t mean that the team is perfect, either. They do have a few needs that… need (hence the word?) to be addressed before the season starts. While punters don’t cost much to add, they do need some depth at corner as Newman can’t dodge father time forever and the jury is still out on whether third and second year players Trae Waynes and McKenzie Alexander can compete in the NFL.
So, by no means am I saying that this Vikings team will win a championship in 2017. I will say, however, that I believe that they have a better shot than the team that played last season. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m more confident in this team than I was in the team that existed at this point last season. But as last season showed, a lot can change day to day and this team, at least on paper, is better than the team that ended up going 3-8 over the final 11 weeks of the season.
So, calm down everyone. There are moves that still remain to be seen and this team is pretty much where you’d expect it to be a month before the draft. If anything, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is a draft guru, so I’d definitely say to at least wait to judge this free agency period until after the draft, as the two go hand in hand. But, we can all rest easy in knowing that this team, or the players on it, aren’t giving up.
So, we shouldn’t either.