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Vikings Twitter mailbag part 1: Schedule, Spielman and Peterson trade ideas

4/10/2015

MINNEAPOLIS -- Thanks to all of you who submitted questions for this week's Minnesota Vikings mailbag. You can submit them at any point during the week on Twitter, using the hashtag #VikingsMail.

@GoesslingESPN: Good morning, everyone. Hope your weekend is off to a great start. We'll get going here. Every team has certain scheduling requests it may submit to the league each year; cold-weather teams, for example, might ask for more December home games to take advantage of teams who might not be ready for the conditions. In the Vikings' final year at TCF Bank Stadium, though, the NFL has to construct a schedule that will honor the terms of the team's agreement with the University of Minnesota, which prohibits the Vikings from weeknight home games during the school year and asks the league to avoid Gophers/Vikings home games on the same weekend if at all possible. In light of the Gophers' schedule this year -- and the fact the Vikings have opened at home once since 2007 -- I'd expect the NFL will give the Vikings a home game to kick off the season on Sept. 13, before sending them on the road the next two weekends when the Gophers are at home. This year's Gophers schedule includes three two-game homestands (though one includes a bye week in October), so the NFL could work road games for the Vikings around those. Based on the NFL's Week 17 schedule rotation, I'd expect the Vikings will end the season against the Green Bay Packers. That game would likely be at Lambeau Field, since the Vikings were at home for their last season finale against the Packers, though the NFL did break from that rotation with last year's Week 17 games in the NFC North. In any case, we should find out the schedule soon -- and if it's Vikings-Packers to end the season, we can only hope for a game as memorable as the 2012 contest, which still ranks as the best NFL game I've ever seen in person.

@GoesslingESPN: Sure -- for the Vikings. We talk about a lot of these trade ideas, and I get the sentiment that a unique talent like Peterson should command a premium in a trade. But it takes two teams to complete a trade, and one isn't going to have much motivation to offer a truckload of assets for Peterson. Think about the forces at play here: You've got a 30-year-old running back, coming off a suspension, who would either need a team to take on his $12.75 million salary or likely give him some guaranteed money in a restructured deal. On top of all that, he's voiced concerns about returning to Minnesota, and his agent has said it's not in his "best interests" to continue his career there. If you're a team that wants to acquire him, would you line up with a blockbusting offer? Or would you wait the Vikings out, betting on a lower price if the team decides it can't keep Peterson? The Vikings have been adamant that they want Peterson to stay in Minnesota, and while that could be posturing, I think it's at least clear they're not going to give him away for peanuts. On the other hand, you have enough concerns that a package like this one -- a first-round pick and a 24-year-old Pro Bowl guard -- probably isn't going to materialize.

@GoesslingESPN: Yankey has been working out in Atlanta with trainer Ryan Goldin, whose clients have included Bengals guard Clint Boling and former Chargers Pro Bowl tackle Marcus McNeill. The Vikings' directive for Yankey was clear at the end of last season -- get stronger -- and I'd expect we'll hear about Yankey's improved physique once the Vikings return for offseason workouts on April 20. I wouldn't assume, though, that the Vikings are done at guard just because they haven't made a move yet. There are several tackles in this draft, like Iowa's Brandon Scherff, Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings and LSU's La'el Collins, who could be guards in the NFL, and from what I've heard, the Vikings could venture back out onto the open market in search of a veteran guard that might get released and wouldn't hurt their chances at a compensatory pick next year. Yankey will get a chance to show he's improved, but I don't think the Vikings are necessarily set at left guard.

@GoesslingESPN: As we discussed earlier this week, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman's draft track record is actually quite good. We've used Pro-Football-Reference.com's Approximate Value metric to provide a rough estimate of how the Vikings' drafts have fared in comparison with the rest of the league during Spielman's tenure. According to that statistic, they've got the eighth-best draft performance in the league since 2007. In the last three years, since Spielman became GM and assumed full control over personnel matters, the Vikings' drafts have the NFL's third-best AV scores. Those scores are driven largely by the performance of high picks like Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater, and the Vikings haven't been as good as some teams at plumbing the middle of the draft for value (though players like Everson Griffen and Jarius Wright were fourth-rounders, and Brandon Fusco was a sixth-rounder). But if you believe the best way to build a contender is to acquire as many impact players as possible, it's hard to argue with Spielman's approach. The position that will ultimately define Spielman's tenure, of course, is quarterback; the Vikings whiffed on Christian Ponder, and whether they've got a franchise quarterback or merely a promising youngster in Bridgewater remains to be seen. But if Bridgewater becomes what the Vikings think he can be, Spielman's drafts will start to look particularly impressive.

That'll do it for this edition of the mailbag; we'll tackle another round of questions on Sunday morning. Enjoy your Saturday, and we'll talk to you tomorrow.