With a long list of needs on offense and defense, tight end John Carlson has been the only answer. Signing the Litchfield, Minn. native does not exactly count as signing the hometown kid to sell tickets. A year younger than Joe Mauer, he won’t exactly extend the sellout streak.
That’s not to say the Vikings are headed in the wrong direction though. The most important move the organization could make was made over two months ago when they finally named a General Manager.
Rick Spielman may not have been the name you were hoping for, but it gives the organization a direction it has been lacking, since well, forever.
Roger Headrick, who led the Vikings during the 1990’s, was not really a GM. As a member of the 10-person ownership group he was named president of the team and was responsible for its financial direction. A businessman, this was a good fit, but he was long reviled by hometown fans and media alike for treating the organization as well, a business.
Prior to Headrick was Mike Lynn, he had the title of General Manager, but he too was a member of the ownership group and is best remembered as the man who help build the Dallas Cowboys dynasty. An interesting title considering he worked for the purple.
A silly little trade for Herschel Walker will do that for a fellow.
A man in charge.
When the Vikings ownership group, pleasantly referred to as the gang of ten, finally disbanded a slick salesman from Texas held the reigns and started to squeeze a little tighter.
Red McCombs needed someone to run the organization, but was too cheap to pay for it. His answer was to give equal amounts of authority to senior members of the organization.
The triangle of authority was essentially another Board of Directors, so things still never really changed. No one person had to answer for why things were the way they were.
Although Spielman is a former member of that triangle he now leads it. The success, or lack thereof, now rests with him.
“Give us time to put this roster together,” Spielman said in a conference call with media on Wednesday. “We’re not only putting it together for 2012. We’re building this roster so we’ll be able to maintain this roster over the next three, four, five years.”
When the head coach is in charge, he tends to leverage the future for a chance at winning today, with Adrian Peterson on the roster it’s a hard to argue.
That’s not the only answer though. Minnesota can still win now, without losing its future.
“I think what we’re trying to do,” explained the GM. “Is find some players that we think are going to be able to help us win ballgames, that are going to contribute and then continue to build this through the draft, keep our draft picks and potentially add more draft picks and keep our roster competitive year in and year out.”
The new head of the organization understands that he doesn’t need to make a “splash” in free agency just to show he is doing something. Smart choices that fit the teams future is what will help them in the present.
Carlson led the Seattle Seahawks in receptions and yardage in his rookie year. The Vikings offense will be more dynamic with him.
The two-tight end set has always been natural for the purple, but Visanthe Shiancoe’s production has dropped dramatically the past two years and he will be released.
The addition of the hometown kid was a smart move that may not be appreciated until the season starts. It reduces the need for a field-stretching wide receiver; it does not eliminate that need, but the value is still there.
While watching the big name free agents sign elsewhere, take solace that the Vikings organization is not standing by idly.
The organization already made their splash, now we need to see where the river takes us.