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What are your thoughts about the roster moves? Do you see the Vikings making any moves now that we have extra money?
— Jim Jenkins
It's certainly been a bittersweet few days after the Vikings chose to terminate the contracts of Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph and David Morgan. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer had hinted since the end of the season that changes were coming, especially on defense, but that still doesn't make the moves any easier to digest.
I asked Spielman at the 2020 Combine about the emotions and difficulties of cutting veterans who have given everything on and off the field to the organization. Here is what he said:
"That's always the toughest part of this position, because ultimately you have the final decision on who stays and who goes," Spielman said. "I know if you do have the tendency to move on, there's a right way to do it, and hopefully you do it with dignity.
"Those decisions are extremely difficult, but in the end it's a business, and you have to make business decisions, and you have to remove yourself from the emotional side of it," Spielman added.
Each of the three players provided great moments for the franchise in recent years — think of Rhodes as a lockdown cornerback, Joseph as a dominant run-stuffer and Morgan for his toughness in run blocking (and the ability to be an emergency long snapper).
The positive out of those moves, if you can call it that, is that the Vikings now have a decent amount of cap space to work with. And with NFL players voting to ratify a new Collective Bargaining Agreement over the weekend, that number could go up if the with the expected salary cap increase as well. The new CBA also means more opportunities to make the playoffs, an eventual 17-game schedule, more playoff teams and fewer preseason games down the line.
We'll see what direction the Vikings go in now that they have the ability to sign a free agent (or a few) this offseason. Do they try to re-sign Anthony Harris, Everson Griffen or others who are scheduled to be free agents?
Time will tell, but the Vikings are now in a position to make some moves, but it did come at the expense of parting ways with a handful well-respected players.
In your opinion, what is it going to take for the Vikings to make it to the Super Bowl and win?
— Kenneth Johnson in Bakersfield, CA
A lot has to go right for a team to make a Super Bowl, much less win it. The key ingredients I think of are health, execution and luck.
First off, a team must stay relatively healthy throughout the course of a season, and in the playoffs. While depth players are available to step up, losing a few top players to injuries could mean the difference between a deep playoff run or not.
Next, you have to deliver in the clutch. Every NFL team has talent, but as coaches often say, it's about who can make the plays when they matter most. Coach Zimmer likes to harp on the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter as a time when outcomes can swing in either direction.
Finally, there has to be some good fortunate, too. Imagine all of the plays that came down to mere inches of a foot staying in-bounds or a runner barely getting a first down. Things have to go your way — including a lucky bounce of the ball here or there — in order to get to the Super Bowl and get a win.
The Vikings certainly have the pieces to be competitive, just look at their 50 wins over the past five seasons. But Coach Zimmer mentioned after the season about finding a way to get the team over the hump, so that will be a focal point in 2020.
View the best photos from the Vikings team photographers of quarterbacks in 2019.
Every other team in the league seems to draft a quarterback for the future. Why don't the Vikings see this as a positive? The examples are there. I don't need to name them. You can't hit on one if you don't try.
— Duane Miller
Perhaps this is the year the Vikings pick one in the draft. The last quarterback drafted by the Vikings was Teddy Bridgewater in 2014, but Minnesota has turned to more veteran options in free agency or trades since then.
With Kirk Cousins entering the final year of his contract, Sean Mannion set to be a free agent and Jake Browning coming off a rookie season on the practice squad, this could be the year the Vikings dip into the quarterback waters at some point in the draft.
Since Kirk Cousins signed a 3-year contract for $28 million a year. Why is his cap hit $31 million?
— Lanny in Sioux Falls
While Kirk's three-year contract did equate out to $84 million, it wasn't evenly distributed. So he made different amounts each season, and will be on the books for the highest cap hit of the three years in 2020.
Would an even-up trade of Riley Reiff for Trent Williams make any sense, assuming Williams is healthy? That would certainly provide an upgrade at the left tackle position.
— Stephen E. Dawson
Stephen's proposal here would be an even swap of left tackles. Williams is an excellent player who made seven straight Pro Bowls before he missed the 2019 season for various reasons, including health.
But I wonder if Washington would likely want more in return than Reiff, who is a solid player in his own right. But when you're looking to trade a perennial Pro Bowler — even if he didn't play at all this past season — you would think Washington would want perhaps a draft pick and a player.