It's been a newsy start for the Vikings and the NFL at the 2017 Scouting Combine. Although the on-field action doesn't start until the end of the week, several NFL coaches and GMs swept through the media center. This includes Vikings GM Rick Spielman, who held his annual Combine press conference and addressed a bevy of topics related to his team.
Here are four observations from Day 1 of the 2017 Combine…
1. Reaction to Adrian Peterson's impending free agency
The Vikings announced on Monday they would not be picking up the club option on Adrian Peterson's 2017 contract, paving the way for him to hit free agency on March 9. Reaction to the news by analysts who are in Indianapolis covering the Combine was unanimous – no one was surprised. The one aspect of this issue that does have some interested, though, is that neither the Vikings nor Peterson's camp have closed the door on a possible return to Minnesota for Peterson.
2. Rapoport lauds '14 re-signing of Everson Griffen, says Vikings will target OL in '17
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said this year's free agent class is not particularly strong and he said the decline in the number of quality players who reach free agency is a product of teams doing a better job of retaining their young, core players and not letting them get to the market. Rapoport pointed to a deal the Vikings did recently as an example of this trend.
"It's not a great free agent class," Rapoport said. "And I think this trend is going to continue because teams are getting smarter and smarter, doing deals earlier and making sure you lock up your guys. From the Vikings perspective, locking up Everson a couple years back for a deal a lot of people thought was much too high turned out to be a great value. And make sure a player like that doesn't get out on the market and just kill it."
Although Rapoport wouldn't describe this year's free agent class as particularly strong, he did sound optimistic about the Vikings chance of adding a quality player or two at several positions.
"You've got a couple of good corners. Pass rushers are really difficult to find. You've got some good guards. You've got a couple tackles," Rapoport explained. "From the Vikings perspective, assume the Vikings will go after some offensive linemen to try to beef up that. You've got some options. Obviously (Matt) Kalil, too, but you've got some options."
3. Fixing the offensive line
Speaking of fixing the offensive line, that was one common thread in nearly every conversation we had with NFL media members on Tuesday. From ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan to Vikings GM Rick Spielman, the sentiment is Sam Bradford played well in 2016 despite not being protected as well as the team would've liked and that Bradford can push the ball down the field if the protection improves.
4. Vikings Skol chant
One of the first interviews of the day was former Colts punter Pat McAfee. It may also have been one of the most entertaining interviews of the day. McAfee recently retired from the NFL but it's apparent he's about to do anything but calm down and get out of the spotlight. McAfee's enthusiasm, sense of humor and friendly personality came to light immediately, and then toward the end of the interview McAfee proclaimed his admiration for the Vikings Skol chant.