Over the next few weeks, "Shutdown Corner" will pay homage to "Office Space" (TPS reports) as we take a quick look back at each team's 2012 season and a look at what lies ahead for the 2013 offseason. We're in the second leg of the NFC North and the Minnesota Vikings.
2012 record: 10-6
What went wrong: Following a 5-2 start to the season, the Vikings four out of five games, including road games against the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, teams of playoff or that were playoff-caliber in 2012. The loss to the Seahawks was a double whammy as the Vikings lost their second-best offensive weapon, wide receiver Percy Harvin, to a left ankle injury.
At the time of his injury, Harvin led the Vikings with 62 receptions and 677 receiving yards through eight-plus games, numbers that would be good enough to lead the team at the end of the season. In addition to his receiving skills, Harvin had 96 yards and a touchdown on the ground and averaged 35.9 yards on 16 returns and had a 105-yard kick return for a touchdown in Week 4.
The Vikings were not particularly deep at the receiver position and the loss of Harvin contributed to the offense ranking 31st in passing yards per game and 31st in passing yards per play as 2011 first-round pick Christian Ponder struggled in his second season in the NFL and was nearly benched in early December. Ponder finished the season well – four touchdowns, zero interceptions in his final four starts – but injured his elbow and was unavailable for a 24-10 wild-card playoff loss to the Packers.
What went right: Adrian Peterson earned Most Valuable Player honors after rushing for 2,097 yards, nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record, and 12 touchdowns despite having reconstructive knee surgery last January. Over the final ten games of the season, Peterson ran for 1,598 yards, a total that would have ranked third in the NFL.
First-round left tackle Matt Kalil had a solid rookie season and was added to the Pro Bowl roster as an injury replacement for Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams. Tight end Kyle Rudolph caught 53 passes for 493 yards with a team-high nine touchdown receptions in his sophomore season. Rudolph was added to the Pro Bowl roster as an injury replacement and was named the game's MVP after catching five passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings struck gold with sixth-round kick Blair Walsh, who earned Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors after leading the NFL with 35 field goals made on 38 attempts. Walsh was a perfect 10-for-10 on field goal attempts from beyond 50 yards and 53 touchbacks on 86 kickoffs.
Coaching/front office changes: None
Estimated 2013 cap space: $13.549 million
Possible cap casualties: Wide receiver Michael Jenkins joined the Vikings in 2011 after being released for cap purposes by the Atlanta Falcons. Jenkins finished his first season in Minnesota on injured reserve and caught 40 passes for 449 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. Jenkins is due a $2.425 million roster bonus on March 16 and his release would save $3.25 million in cash and cap space. Cornerback Antoine Winfield turns 36 in June and could be a cap casualty with a $7.25 million in base salary in the final year of his contract. Another veteran on defense who could be a cap casualty is defensive tackle Kevin Williams who had two sacks in 2012 and is due $7.5 million cash ($7 million base salary, $500,000 workout bonus), all of which would come off the cap if he were released. Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen isn't going anywhere, but the Vikings could restructure and extend his contract to lower his $16.8 million cap number in 2013
Unrestricted free agents
Devin Aromashodu, WR
Joe Berger, C/G
Jasper Brinkley, LB
Jerome Felton, FB
Erin Henderson, LB
Phil Loadholt, OT
Marvin Mitchell, LB
Jamarca Sanford, S
Geoff Schwartz, OT
Jerome Simpson, WR
Restricted free agents
A.J. Jefferson, CB
Troy Kropog, OT
RFA tender amounts in 2013 are:
• $1.323 million for right of first refusal and/or original draft round compensation
• $2.023 for right of first refusal and second round draft selection
• $2.879 for right of first refusal and first round draft selection
Franchise Tag candidates: The Vikings would certainly like to retain fullback Jerome Felton, who was named to the NFC's Pro Bowl squad in 2012, and Jasper Brinkley, who posted 100 tackles from his middle linebacker position. Brinkley is unlikely to receive the tag, which would cost around $9.462 million based on a projected league-wide cap number of $121 million. Felton will not receive the franchise tag as the running back tag - there is no distinction made between tailbacks and fullbacks – would cost $8.085 million in 2013. According to Football Outsiders' "Adjusted Line Yards" metric, the Vikings ranked fifth in the NFL in runs off right tackle and it would not be a surprise if the Vikings tagged right tackle Phil Loadholt. The offensive line franchise tender is worth an estimated $9.668 million.
Previous installments of the "Offseason TPS Reports" series:
AFC East: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns
AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans
AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins
NFC North: Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears
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