North Notes: Felton, Webb, Branch

Mike Zimmer led the Vikings to a 7-9 record in his first season despite a long list of personnel issues, including the loss of Adrian Peterson. Some folks might have been surprised, but not Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. “I thought he did an outstanding job, a fine job,” Lewis said of his longtime defensive coordinator, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I know they’re excited for next year (in Minnesota).” More from the North divisions..

  • Fullback Jerome Felton, who has decided to opt out of the final year of his deal with the Vikings, told Ben Goessling of that he was frustrated by the absence of Peterson in 2014. “Once Adrian went down, it changed things,” Felton said. “For a while there, my numbers went back up and I started playing well. But when you have the best running back in the world, that changes the offense. (Offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) and (running backs coach) Kirby (Wilson) were always great communicating with me. The team supported me in what I was doing. It was a tough year from the standpoint of wanting to do more, but I felt like I grew as a leader this year. I didn’t let those things turn me into a negative influence in the locker room. I tried to keep supporting my guys.”
  • Lardarius Webb’s contract is an offseason issue the Ravens will likely have to address, Clifton Brown of writes. Webb still has three years remaining on a contract due to pay him $8MM in base salary next season. The Ravens could use a more cap-friendly deal, because even if they cut him, they would only save $2MM in cap room. Webb should be open to some sort of adjustment because he probably wouldn’t get more than $8MM on the open market.
  • Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch told Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link) that the Browns expressed interest in signing him in October. However, he liked the defense in New England and wanted to play alongside Vince Wilfork.
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