EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman met with the media for nearly 45 minutes on Thursday afternoon, offering his thoughts about the 2015 season, the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine and the NFL Draft.
Spielman also discussed the status of current players and those are scheduled to be free agents.
Spielman said a big key to success is keeping your own players when they're due for a new contract. He mentioned safety Harrison Smith as a possible candidate to get an extension. The Vikings exercised their fifth-year options on 2012 first-round picks Smith and Matt Kalil for the 2016 season.
"I would imagine he would be one of those guys coming down the pipe here pretty soon," Spielman said. "Harrison, with the way he runs our back end of the defense, I think he's one of the better playmakers at safety. He can play free and strong, he's effective on the deep end, and he's just as effective when he gets walked up to the line."
Spielman also touched on free agent linebacker Chad Greenway, who has spent his entire career with the Vikings.
"I had a very good conversation with Chad after the season," Spielman said. "We'll have a few more conversations with his agent."
Spielman also said there have also been talks with free agent cornerback Terence Newman.
"I think Terence still wants to play," Spielman said. "It's funny when you talk to these guys right after the season, especially with the emotion that was going on Monday right after the game.
"But when things calm down and you get to the combine, we'll have a lot of talks with the agents on our team," he added. "The process will continue as we get up to the negotiation period. We have plenty of time between now and then."
Newman, a 13-year veteran, helped rookie cornerback Trae Waynes and other young players grow during the 2015 season.
Spielman noted that, although Waynes didn't see a lot of action, he can still be an impactful player going forward.
"I want to take the best football players (in the draft) … even if those guys don't contribute this year," Spielman said. "Even though (Waynes) didn't play as much this year … it doesn't mean that he isn't going to be a really good football player.
"He was the best player available and he filled a need, too, because we wanted a young corner."
Asked if the Vikings might consider moving Newman to safety, similar to the way that Charles Woodson finished his career in Oakland, Spielman said he thinks "Terence is a corner."
Wide receiver Mike Wallace, who was acquired last March in a trade with Miami, is also under contract. Some have speculated about the veteran's standing with the Vikings. Wallace ranked third on the team with 39 receptions for 473 yards and two touchdowns, but Spielman said Wallace's impact on the team went beyond the stat sheet, calling the receiver a consummate professional in the locker room.
"We've talked about Mike," Spielman said. "Mike may not have had the production that he envisioned or we envisioned when he came in, but his leadership, his work ethic, how he took some of the young guys under his wing, were all A-plus.
"I consider him, for a guy being in his first year, a tremendous leader for us," he added. "Even though the production part wasn't there, some of the stuff he has done in this building, I attribute a lot of our success to him and how he approaches his business."
Spielman was also asked if the Vikings plan to bring in competition for kicker Blair Walsh, who led the NFL in field goals this season with 34.
Walsh missed a potential game-winning kick in the 10-9 Wild Card loss to Seattle in January.
"Blair Walsh is our kicker," Spielman said. "I understand him missing that last kick (drew criticism), but I also know we wouldn't have been in that situation if he didn't kick the three before in those conditions. Our organization and our coaches have confidence in Blair."