What Will The 2011 Minnesota Vikings Look Like?
With only one champion each year among the 32 NFL teams, clubs around the league are either built to win immediately, or they are building to win in the future. The Minnesota Vikings are one of those teams built for the present. Unfortunately for Vikings’ fans, the window of opportunity slammed shut in last season’s NFC Championship game. The Purple faithful clung to high hopes for the 2010 season, but even with Brett Favre returning for one final act, the Vikings could not live up to expectations. With the current season wrapping up Sunday in Detroit, many disappointed fans are left wondering what to expect in 2011.
Provided a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is reached, the Vikings have some difficult decisions to make before taking the field in 2011. As Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune points out, the Vikings have 17 players set to become free agents in March. And if you listen to defensive tackle Pat Williams, it sounds like next year’s team may look completely different than this year’s version.
“They’re going to be rebuilding around here, it’s going to be kind of rough,” said Williams.
In addition to Pat Williams, the remaining 16 free agents are: Quarterbacks Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson, fullback Naufahu Tahi, wide receivers Sidney Rice and Greg Lewis, offensive lineman Ryan Cook, defensive linemen Ray Edwards, Brian Robison, and Fred Evans, linebackers Chad Greenway, Ben Leber, and Erin Henderson (RFA), defensive backs Lito Sheppard, Eric Frampton, and Husain Abdullah, and kicker Ryan Longwell.
With the uncertainty surrounding a new CBA, Vikings’ Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman has chosen not to negotiate any new contracts for the upcoming season. Simply put, the Vikings do not want to guarantee a player’s salary for a season that is not guaranteed to exist.
Even if a new CBA is worked out in time for the 2011 season, the Vikings will not be able to afford new contracts for all of the aforementioned players. Granted, there are players on that list who will certainly not be returning to the Vikings, but there is a core group the team would like to lockup for the long-term.
Understanding that football is ultimately a business and veteran players are constantly swapped out for younger players who come with a cheaper price tag, the Vikings have some difficult decisions ahead. As Pat Williams said, it may be kind of rough.