Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
We’re tracking all things Purple, starting with what’s already happened and projecting what needs to happen as the Vikings work their way through free agency and the rest of the offseason.
Mike Zimmer, speaking at the NFL owners meetings this morning, reiterated the Vikings’ stance that they expect disgruntled running back Adrian Peterson to play for them this season.
“I’m not going to speculate on what he wants or doesn’t want,” the head coach said. “Adrian’s under contract for three more years with us and that’s why you sign these contracts. That’s why you get these big bonuses, you know?”
Peterson has three years remaining on the six-year, $96 million contract extension he signed in 2011. He has a base salary of $12.75 million this season and can make $45 million total over the final three seasons of his contract. But there is no guaranteed money beyond this season.
While it’s unclear whether money or something else is his true motivation for wanting out of town, Team Peterson is trying to create leverage somehow by making his displeasure public.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Vikings have no intentions of trading Peterson at this point.
Zimmer backed that up again today by emphatically stating, “We have no plans to trade Adrian.”
One more Peterson tidbit to note from the owners meetings: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that April 15 is still the relevant date when it comes to Peterson’s reinstatement and that he plans to meet with Peterson sometime before then to discuss where things stand.
Mike Zimmer said this morning at the NFL owners meetings that the Vikings are close to reaching a contract agreement with free-agent cornerback Terence Newman, one of Zimmer’s former players.
Newman visited the Vikings last week but left the Twin Cities without a deal. The two sides stayed in touch, though, and Newman now appears to be close to officially reuniting with Zimmer.
Zimmer was in Dallas when the Cowboys drafted Newman fifth overall in the 2003 draft. Zimmer coached Newman for four seasons there. Newman would later be selected to a pair of Pro Bowls.
After Newman’s play dropped from that Pro Bowl level, he signed in 2012 with the Bengals, whose defense was being coordinated by Zimmer at the time. Newman, who started for the Bengals the past three seasons, again benefited from the relationship before Zimmer joined the Vikings in 2014.
Last season, though, Newman wasn’t as sharp. And considering he turns 37 in September and will be one of the league’s oldest cornerbacks, it’s fair to wonder how much he has in the tank.
But the Vikings need more capable bodies at the position. Their depth wasn’t tested in 2014, with Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson all playing 16 games. Behind them on the depth chart were veteran punt returner Marcus Sherels and 2014 seventh-round pick Jabari Price.
That is why signing Newman is worth a shot, especially given his track record with the head coach.
The NFL this afternoon released the draft order for next month’s NFL draft, so we now know when the Vikings will make their — as of right now — seven total selections.
The Vikings have no sixth-round pick and two seventh-rounders after sending quarterback Matt Cassel to the Bills and acquiring receiver Mike Wallace from the Dolphins in two separate trades.
They sent their original fifth-round pick to the Dolphins in the Wallace deal and kept the fifth-round pick, which originally belonged to the Buccaneers, they received in the Cassel trade. That selection is 12 spots before their original pick, so they kept the better of the two fifth-rounders.
Anyway, here are the seven 2015 draft picks that the Vikings currently have to work with:
— 11th overall (first round)
— 45th overall (second round)
— 76th overall (third round)
— 110th overall (fourth round)
— 137th overall (fifth round)
— 228th overall (seventh round)
— 232nd overall (seventh round)
Free-agent safety Taylor Mays has agreed to a one-year deal with the Vikings, an NFL source confirmed.
In five NFL seasons with two teams, Mays made 98 tackles, recorded one sack and forced one fumble. The 27-year-old has broken up six passes and is still looking for his first NFL interception.
Originally a second-round pick of the 49ers, he joined current Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, then Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator, and the Bengals in 2011 and played 50 games for the team over the past four seasons. Mays was mostly a backup, but when Zimmer was in Cincinnati, he used Mays in a hybrid safety-linebacker role in some of his sub packages.
Free agent linebacker Casey Matthews signed with the Vikings today, the team announced.
Matthews, the brother of Packers All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews, was taken by the Eagles in the fourth round of the NFL draft in 2011 out of Oregon.
Matthews, 26, started 11 games for the Eagles last season, replacing an injured DeMeco Ryans at inside linebacker. He played four years in Philadelphia, playing in 16 games each season, including a lot of special teams duty. He had 2.5 sacks in that time.
Here’s a phillynews.com profile of Matthews from last season.
|Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson||10||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker||2|
|Colorado||4||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Oakland||10||Top 9th Inning|
|Kansas City||8||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Atlanta||16||1st Qtr 3:10|
|New York||7:00 PM|
|Golden State||7:30 PM|
|Oklahoma City||8:00 PM|
|New Jersey||0||1st Prd 9:27|
|Florida||0||1st Prd 13:31|
|Ottawa||0||1st Prd 12:50|
|Los Angeles||7:00 PM|
|Arizona||34||2nd Half 17:09|
|Notre Dame||7:49 PM|
|Los Angeles||0||1st Half 28:00|
|Sporting Kansas City||1||1st Half 29:00|
|New York City||0|
|Red Bull New York||6:30 PM|
|Gonzaga||18||1st Half 10:40|