Notebook: Vikings considering franchise tags, seeking 3rd-round pick?
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn -- Minnesota Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said the team is still evaluating whether to use its franchise tag on a free agent but is determined to keep the team's young nucleus together.
"We will look at whether we use a franchise tag or not that will be determined here before the deadline," Spielman said Tuesday. "We probably won't buckle up here for another week or two."
The franchise and transition tag can be applied by every NFL team to one of their pending unrestricted free agents. The more commonly used franchise tag pays the average of the top five salaries at that player's position and carries compensation of two first-round picks if the player signs elsewhere.
"I think we have to identify who are core -- we've always done a very good job of keeping our core of young talent," Spielman said. "I'm sure as we finalize this thing that (Greenway and Rice), we want to have back on this roster and we want to keep our youth on this roster."
Spielman echoed what coach Leslie Frazier has said about the team needing to get younger after a disastrous last-place finish in the NFC North in 2010 with a roster that had nearly half of its starters on the wrong side of 30.
"I think there is a good young nucleus on this football team," he said. "I also think there were some older guys on this football team. We have a lot of unrestricted free agents up. You say you would love to keep them all back, but that's not the reality, so we are going to make some tough decisions."
"But I know we are pretty excited about some of the youth we have on this football team and some of the nucleus and core pieces that we do have in place."
Unlike last season, when the team had 22 starters returning from a team that came agonizingly short of the Super Bowl, the 2011 Vikings will be younger and rookies will be called upon.
"We're going to be a younger team for sure going into next season," Spielman said. "Rookies are going to get forced into action. They are going to have to step up and play. I also have a lot of confidence in our coaching staff and their history of developing young guys and getting them ready to play."
Finding a 3?
The upcoming NFL Draft and the lack of third-round pick will serve as a reminder to just how badly the Vikings botched the Randy Moss fiasco.
As it stands the team has a first, second, fourth, two fifths, a sixth and seventh-round pick in April's draft.
But with holes to fill at seemingly every position, Spielman made it clear the team will look to regain the third-round pick they lost to the New England Patriots for the services of Moss for four games.
Spielman brought the talk of acquiring a third-round pick up unprovoked while discussing the possibility of getting a quarterback in the later rounds by saying, "assuming we get our third-round pick back, which I am hopefully planning on doing."
"Maybe we'll be able to trade at some point in the draft to get a third rounder back, you don't know," he said.
One possible for scenario for getting the three would be if their isn't a player the Vikings can't live without available at 12 and they could move down in the first round.
One of the bigger developments from the hiring of Frazier was the revelation that he -- unlike Childress -- will not have final say over the team's 53-man roster.
But Spielman downplayed any shift in power and said he and Frazier will work together an all decisions.
"Regardless of who has final say -- I know (the media) get hung up on that -- to me, as your head coach and your GM or vice president need to take that tag off, each guy holding that card that we agree that this is our guy," Spielman said. "When we make decisions, from the 53 standpoint, we have to be able to agree, and 99 percent of the time more than likely that's going to be the case."
"If there is a disagreement, we'll hack it out until we're on the same page."
Spielman also says it is on Frazier to figure out the team's identity and he will take a backseat in that regard.
"Leslie will carve that," he said. "I'd rather leave that question to Leslie on the identity of this football team. We're still going to try to get in the best football players possible. As far as offense and defensive scheme and how he wants to be known as a football team, I'd rather have him answer that question."
It wasn't exactly a secret that Spielman and Childress did not see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. But when asked to compare his relationship with Frazier to the former coach, Spielman insisted on speaking about the future.
"I'm not going to talk about the past, he said. "I just know working with Leslie has been great. You go back and forth on ideas. I think when we come up with our final decisions it's going to be what's best for this organization. I don't think there's one person that puts their self ahead of the other."
One of the biggest questions raised to Spielman during his 30-minute visit with the media was how the team is preparing for the impending work stoppage.
Spielman insisted that, despite the uncertainty, the team is going forward with business as usual.
"All we're doing is we're just preparing," he said. "I know whether there's free agency or not free agency or what's going to happen with the (collective-bargaining agreement), I don't know what's going to happen with that. Our job is to just go through our normal procedures, our normal time line on making sure we have everything in place regardless of what's going to happen in the future."
Tailor the scheme to the players
One of the many aspects of the Brad Childress-era that drove fans crazy was his stubbornness of sticking with his scheme and "kick-ass offense" rather than molding a system around the talent he had on the roster.
That will now change with Frazier and his staff, according to Spielman, who said the team will no longer be looking to fit square pegs into round holes.
"I want to know if it's different from what we're used to as far as the characteristics they are looking for at each position," he said. "I know (offensive coordinator) Bill (Musgrave) and the offensive staff have been very open to trying to get the best players in here and utilizing the skill set we can get in here to kind of tailor the scheme to what the player's skill set is."
Spielman says this opens a lot more doors than before and will therefore improve the team's roster.
"It opens your options as you look at players," he said. "You're identifying a player's strengths and a player's weakness. As long as the coaches understand too, 'Hey, this is what he can do, this is what he can't do. Can we utilize this?' They're going to say, 'Yeah, I know what he does. Let's go ahead and feel comfortable utilizing him.' It makes it an easy and smooth working relationship with Leslie and the new staff as far as, 'OK, I know what you're telling me what his strengths and weaknesses are.'"