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Vikings GM Rick Spielman goes from the hot seat to collecting honors

There were questions about Rick Spielman’s future this offseason and if the Vikings general manager might be in trouble if his team again struggled following a disappointing 8-8 finish in 2016.

But if Spielman was on the hot seat then, he certainly isn’t now.

After making what proved to be several savvy moves that helped the Vikings finish 13-3 this season, Spielman is being recognized as one of the NFL’s best. On Wednesday, he was named Pro Football Weekly’s 2017 Executive of the Year. The award was voted on by an 18-person panel.

Spielman made many moves last spring and summer following a season in which the Vikings started 5-0 but then only won three of their final 11 games and missed the playoffs. That followed a season in which coach Mike Zimmer had led the Vikings to the NFC North title.

Spielman’s moves after 2016 included releasing future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson and letting left tackle Matt Kalil and wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson walk in free agency.

Spielman went about rebuilding an offensive line that had been a major weakness, signing free-agent tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, and drafting Ohio State center Pat Elflein in the third round. Spielman, who traded the Vikings’ first-round pick in 2017 to Philadelphia for quarterback Sam Bradford just before the 2016 season, selected Florida State running back Dalvin Cook in the second round. Cook was outstanding before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the fourth game of the season.

It helped that Spielman had earlier signed Oakland running back Latavius Murray as a free agent. Murray did not see a lot of time early when Cook was healthy but he has played a key role in the Vikings’ backfield since Cook was lost.

Spielman’s most important move was signing backup quarterback Case Keenum to a one-year, $2 million contract in April. The Vikings were planning to have Bradford serve as their starter — as Teddy Bridgewater continued his recovery from knee surgery — but that plan lasted for only one game. Bradford ended up starting only two games this season because of a knee injury, opening the door for Keenum to take over and put together a year that is sure to earn him a big payday.

Keenum will get the start on Sunday when the Vikings play host to New Orleans in an NFC Divisional playoff game.

“We did a lot of film study on Case and felt like he might not have all the top physical traits as some of the top NFL quarterbacks, but he had the leadership, the competitiveness and the athleticism to fit in well for us,” Spielman told Pro Football Weekly, before adding, “I wish I could say I personally knew he’d be as good as he has been. Some guys get into their late 20s and just blossom, and he’s done just that.”

  • Stephen

    Fake news

  • Cman

    I’m happy that things turned out the way they did, but it’s not entirely accurate.

    They declined Peterson’s option, but offered him a lower contract which he declined.

    Keeping Patterson would have been great as he is a major threat on kickoffs, and I think he would have done great things this year for us.

    They tried keeping Kalil, that came straight from Zimmer’s mouth just before they played Carolina this year.

    So this season could have played out much differently had those players accepted the Vikings offers.

    We may or may not have drafter Cook if Peterson accepted a pay cut. We no doubt wouldn’t have signed Murray. If Kalil would have accepted, we never would have signed Reiff, which means our OL would have given up a ton more sacks. So this could have been very different had Spielman got his original wishes. So giving him high praise because he had to go out and make these moves doesn’t necessarily give him a pass for the long term. I will support him though until he starts messing the team up.

    • linus

      Peterson’s contract wasn’t an “option” year; they flat out released him and never formally offered him another deal. And the Vikings deal with Reiff was announced before free agency even officially started, so Zimmer was obviously just being polite; they never seriously considered re-signing Kalil.

      • Cman

        Yes it was an option, which the Vikings declined. They also offered him a lower salary to stay and he declined.

        https://www.google.com/amp/www.sportingnews.com/amp/nfl/news/adrian-peterson-released-minnesota-vikings-nfl-free-agency/7j8ajaot61kd1ivirqupxe11x

        • linus

          Nope. It was the final year of his original deal. Not an option.

        • linus

          Nope. The language in the article you cited is incorrect. Find an article from back in 2015 when his deal was restructured, and you’ll see there is no mention of an “option year.”

        • Drediock

          This was the politically smart move considering Petersons popularity and legend status rather then have a really messy divorce. the vikings for the last several years with Peterson had the moral high ground. and certainly behaved far more honorable then Peterson had
          Its obvious Peterson never fit Zimmers concept of a “team first” mentality and the best thing for the team was to let Peterson walk. Addition through subtraction

      • Cman
        • linus

          Ummm… did you miss the title of the story that you linked to? The part that said the offer was a “rumor”? Or the part where the author suggested that readers should “Take the “report” with a grain of salt”?

        • Drediock

          I think it was probably a token offer (possibly to help him get a better deal elsewhere) as it was easily evident the writing was on the wall that Kalil wasn’t going to be the long term solution. He signed a much better deal with Carolina

      • Cman

        Teams could start negotiating with UFA on March 7th, they offered Kalil a contract, so did Carolina and when teams could sign free agents on March 9th, Kalil already accepted Carolina’s offer, then the Vikings signed Reiff which was on the 9th of March. If they announced it before free agency as you suggested, they would have gotten fined.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riley_Reiff

        https://www.metro.us/boston/when-does-2017-nfl-free-agency-start-begin-when-is-football-combine/zsJqbc—VY0E4wIM3QvUU

        • linus

          I’m not saying that the Vikings announced it. ESPN did… several hours before the official start of free agency.

    • Gordon Guffey

      Thankfully the Vikings offered so little they left for a BBD ~ Bigger Better Deal ~ LOL

      • Cman

        I’m just glad that Carolina was dumb enough to offer him that outlandish contract and he accepted. They obviously didn’t watch a single minute of game tape on him.

  • Gordon Guffey

    Isn’t it funny how finding the right OC who knows what he wants in players who fit his scheme than it was under one who didn’t seem to have a clue ~ Burnout ????

    Zimmer and Spielman have been making some really good picks on defense all along ~

    Now Spielman~Zimmer who let Shurmur pick more than a couple of coaches this offseason have been able to hit on OL in FA and the draft {{{ Elflein and maybe Isidora too }}} while getting the most of leftovers Easton and Berger ~ Aviante Collins was another undrafted FA find who has really shown well as the 3rd TE after injuries popped up ~ Remember the Murray bashing ~ ??? Or how Case was going to come crashing back down to earth and Teddy would be starting by the Redskins game ~ ??? Or how about those who were upset over the Cook pick ~ ???? It took a injury to slow him and Murray down ~

    The only bust I can think of is M. Floyd who is nothing more than a blocking WRlittle TE ~ Maybe they could get more out of him if the let him play a little TE ~ {{{ cough cough cough }}}

    • Drediock

      As far as the OC is concerned. im not so sure it was a matter of finding players to fit the scheme as much as it was having a coach who was willing to change his scheme to fit the players he has.
      As coach Zimm likes to say he doesnt wan to hear about what he doesnt have. He wants to know what they can do with what they DO have. Norv is a great mind. but I think he just wasnt willing to or may able to adapt to what the team had.

      • Gordon Guffey

        There is a lot of truth in what you said but didn’t the OC have to have some idea of what he was looking for in FA as well as the draft ~ ??? Thats what I was trying to say but you know me ~ LOL

  • Drediock

    Gotta admit I had my doubts about Spielman. Particularity with his seeming ineptitude for acquiring QBs. He’s exercised that demon fer sure and overall he this year has exceeded my expectations.
    Job well done!
    Just remember. In the NFL you are only as good and your most recent results

    • Theguds

      I’ve probably been most critical of the GM, but I think he relies heavily on his coaches when it comes to personnel acquisitions, which I think is a good thing.

      But if he keeps on drafting Ponders and TBs I will be right back to my Spielmen bashing. He’s been very weak with his QB decisions until Bradford and Keenum, but something tells me Shurmur had a strong hand in both those acquisitions.





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Previous Story Zulgad: Worried history will repeat itself for Vikings? Let me put your mind at ease Next Story Brees says Peterson trade allowed Ingram, Kamara to thrive