Hi there. Things are going to be a little light on the blog for the next few days, but while I have a moment I wanted to make sure we're all clear on what Wednesday's contract news does and does not mean for Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier.
As you probably know, the Vikings have exercised a previously-undisclosed option year on Frazier's contract, meaning he is now signed through the 2014 season. To this point, according to Frazier's agent via the Star Tribune, there have been no negotiations on a true extension.
That's a mildly surprising development, mostly because no one knew the option year was a possibility. We all agreed that Frazier shouldn't enter 2013 in the final year of his contract, but before Wednesday it seemed the Vikings' only alternative was to offer him an extension.
The option was the most efficient way to avoid lame-duck status, but it is at best a measured vote of confidence. Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf said in a statement that the team looks forward to working with Frazier "for many years to come," but that sentiment isn't reflected in contract terms.
To be clear, the Vikings have opted against rewarding Frazier for a 10-6 season. Instead, they committed to rendering judgment next year at this time. (Barring the existence of another hidden option, of course.) To avoid a lame-duck situation in 2014, they will need either to extend Frazier's contract or fire him after the 2013 season.
That makes 2013 another "prove-it" year for Frazier. Given the Vikings' 6-16 record in his first 22 games as coach, it's not a totally unreasonable approach. It might not be not a slap at Frazier, but it also isn't a hearty clap on the back for a job well done. If the Vikings were convinced that Frazier will be their coach "for many years to come," they would have signed him a commensurate deal now before his price rose after another presumably successful season in 2013.
It's a reminder that the NFL is a business, that leverage is usually applied when available and that nice guys don't necessarily get a break.