Minnesota Vikings Rumors & News

OL Geoff Schwartz Announces Retirement

Longtime NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz announced his retirement today, writing on SB Nation today that he’s decided to hang up his cleats.Geoff Schwartz (vertical)

Schwartz, 30, spent last summer on the Lions’ offseason roster after signing a one-year, minimum salary benefit deal with Detroit. Expected to serve as a reserve at several positions along the line, Schwartz was waived at the end of August. As he writes in his retirement piece, Schwartz fully expected to land another contract after parting ways with the Lions, but after weeks passed with no contact from interested clubs, Schwartz realized his career was likely over.

Nevertheless, Schwartz’s seven-year NFL run can’t be considered anything other than a success, especially given that Schwartz entered the league as seventh-round pick and suffered a devastating hip injury soon after becoming an established starter. After bouncing around with the Panthers and Vikings, Schwartz played his best ball with the Chiefs in 2013, grading as one of the best guards in the NFL.

After parlaying his seven-game starter stint in Kansas City into a four-year deal with the Giants, Schwartz dealt with injury once again, managing to play in only 13 games over two seasons thanks to ankle, toe, and leg issues. Having struggled to stay on the field, Schwartz was released by New York last February.

Schwartz has already begun his post-NFL career in media: not only does he pen excellent pieces at SB Nation, but he’s co-authored a book with his brother, Chiefs offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz. For offensive line junkies, Schwartz’s Twitter account is a must-follow, as is his podcast.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bengals, Smith, Ravens, Vikes

With Cincinnati’s offensive line facing offseason uncertainty, a reunion with former Bengal/current Viking right tackle Andre Smith could make sense for both parties, as Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer opines (Twitter links). Smith, whom the Bengals made the sixth overall pick in 2009, played seven seasons in the Queen City before inking a one-year deal with Minnesota last year. If he did rejoin Cincinnati, Smith would slot back in at right tackle, where 2015 first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi recently struggled. One problem with such a scenario, per Dehner, would be forcing 2015 second-round pick Jake Fisher — who played well at right tackle last year — to guard, a position he hasn’t played much of in the NFL.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Although Kyle Juszczyk would view a return to the Ravens as “phenomenal,” the veteran fullback would consider other any offers that might be proposed this spring, he tells SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). The 25-year-old Juszczyk led all NFL fullbacks in both offensive snaps (465) and receptions (37) in 2016, although the lack of fullback usage in the league figures to drive down his market. In terms of positional spending, the Chiefs’ Anthony Sherman currently leads all fullbacks with a $2.1MM annual salary. Juszczyk, a former fourth-round pick out of Harvard, will join a free agent fullback class that includes Patrick DiMarco (Falcons), Marcel Reece (Seahawks), and Jerome Felton (Bills).
  • Former Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner has joined the University of Michigan as an offensive analyst, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Turner’s father, Norv, resigned as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator midway through last season, and while Scott was retained to finish out the campaign, he was fired by the Vikings last month. Although Turner had coached in the NFL since 2011, he didn’t have many options around the league if he wanted to continue leading quarterback rooms — the only QB coaching job still available is in Kansas City, per Dan Hatman of The Scouting Academy (Twitter link).
  • Cornerback Bene Benwikere‘s one-year deal with the Bengals is worth $690K, the minimum for a player with three years experience, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Still only 25 years old, Benwikere took visits with four other clubs (including the Jets) before signing with Cincinnati. He’ll compete for a spot in the Bengals’ secondary that includes Adam Jones, Darqueze Dennard, William Jackson III, Josh Shaw, and pending free agent Dre Kirkpatrick.

Giants Have Expressed No Interest In Peterson; Buccaneers Could Be A Good Fit

We learned yesterday that at least a few GMs are concerned about how much Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has left and whether or not he’d be willing to accept a contract commensurate with a running back on the downside of his career. The Giants are one team that Peterson has indicated he would like to play for if he does not remain in Minnesota, but as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, Big Blue has expressed no interest in acquiring the former league MVP (although the Giants have not indicated that they are uninterested either, Peterson just does not appear to fit from a schematic standpoint). Of course, the more teams that drop out of the Peterson race, or decline to enter the race at all, the more likely it is that he will stay with the Vikings on a lesser salary.

  • Speaking of Peterson, Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune lays out a list of teams that the long-time Vikings star is most likely to play for next season, and the Buccaneers are at the top of the list.

Captain Munnerlyn Weighs Free Agency

  • Captain Munnerlyn awaits re-entering the free agency scene, with the Vikings cornerback tentatively expecting to test the market for the second time in his career. The 28-year-old corner would enjoy a return to Minnesota but appears to acknowledge that’s not a given. “Hopefully they value my position, value my talent and bring me back,” Munnerlyn said, via Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I’m an older guy, I want to win. I definitely want to win. In Minnesota, I definitely feel like we have a chance to win.” The seasoned slot specialist will be set for his ninth season. He profiles more as a player who will score a medium-length contract, as he did when he signed three-year Vikings pact in 2014, on a market housing more highly touted UFAs.

GMs Skeptical Of Adrian Peterson’s Future?

Adrian Peterson might not be able to be especially picky when it comes to selecting a second NFL employer, provided the Vikings send him to free agency for the first time in his career. Surveying several GMs, CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora reports a skepticism exists about multiple facets of Peterson’s career going forward.

The aforementioned GMs expressed “real concerns” about how much Peterson has left and whether or not he’d be willing to accept a contract commensurate with a running back on the downside of his career. The high-level decision-makers wonder if the soon-to-be 32-year-old ball-carrier would take a one-year, $5MM deal with an incentive-laden structure if that’s what a team was offering. He made at least $11MM in base salary from 2013-16.

It only takes one team to do something stupid,” an NFL contract negotiator told La Canfora, “but I can’t see there being much out there for him once the Vikings let him go.”

As far as possible interest in going to the Giants or Cowboys, La Canfora notes Big Blue would be better off using potential Peterson money to upgrade their offensive line and target a younger back to complement Paul Perkins, while the reporter questions how Peterson would co-exist with Ezekiel Elliott in a situation where the three-time rushing champion would be a backup. The Patriots warranted a mention here, given their penchant for cheap veterans, but La Canfora suggests the running back’s recent film sample may not appeal to Bill Belichick. Despite winning the 2015 rushing crown, Peterson’s averaged 2.9 yards per carry in the eight games prior to his meniscus tear in September of 2016.

Noting questions would ensue about Peterson’s willingness to be a five- or 10-touch player as a backup on a contending team, along with those about his durability, La Canfora does not expect Peterson to encounter a seller’s market. Instead, a Frank Gore-esque contract (the Colts’ starter signed for $12MM over three years in 2015) could be the reality with which Peterson is confronted.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Notes: Williams, Hazell, Rhodes

Free agent cornerback K’Waun Williams will take his visit with the Vikings next Tuesday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Williams, 25, had meetings with the Lions and Jets earlier this week, and is expected to convene with the Dolphins and 49ers at some point, as well. After starting 10 total games during his first two years in the NFL, Williams was sidelined for all of 2016 thanks to an ankle injury.

  • The Vikings have are expected to hire former Purdue and Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell as their new wide receivers coach, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). Hazell, who was fired only six games into the Boilermakers’ 2016 campaign, has a career NCAA record of 25-43. Internal offensive assistant Drew Petzing was also thought to be a candidate for the position, but instead it’s Hazell who will replace George Stewart, who left for Los Angeles.
  • While they’ll face decisions on unrestricted free agents Matt Kalil, Captain Munnerlyn, and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings are also expected to begin negotiating a contract extension with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, according to Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Thanks to his fifth-year option, Rhodes is signed through the 2017 season, during which he’ll earn $8.026MM. A long-term deal could nearly double his salary, as Josh Norman currently leads all cornerbacks with a $15MM annual figure.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Redskins

Running back Adrian Peterson reportedly has interest in joining the Giants if he’s released by the Vikings this offseason, and last night the veteran back sent out a cryptic tweet that will only add fuel to the Big Blue fire. “The Giants been making some interesting moves,” tweeted Peterson, presumably referring to New York’s release of running back Rashad Jennings and wide receiver Victor Cruz. The Giants might be interested in Peterson if he comes at an affordable price, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes, but the 31-year-old doesn’t appear to be a scheme fit. Peterson averages roughly 1.2 fewer yards per carry out of the shotgun, and New York uses the shotgun formation on two-thirds of its offensive snaps, as Evan Silva and Raymond Summerlin of Rotoworld tweet.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

Adam Thielen Pushing For Vikings Extension

The Vikings can retain restricted free agent receiver Adam Thielen via an RFA tender this offseason, but if Thielen and his agent Blake Baratz have any say, Minnesota will lock up Thielen to a long-term extension in the next few months, Baratz told Ben Goessling on 1500 ESPN’s Purple Podcast.Adam Thielen (Vertical)

[RELATED: Vikings Release Brandon Fusco]

“They have the ability to do right by him, and [Thielen has] far exceeded anyone’s expectations,” said Baratz. “They don’t have any money invested in their wide receivers, and we can figure out something to do that’s right — this week, next week, the following week, March, April.

Every day that gets closer to the end of next season without a deal in place, the pendulum just continues to swing Adam’s way. I think I’m very fair, Adam’s very realistic, and we want to do something that makes sense for the team and makes sense for Adam. Otherwise, someone’s going to be unhappy.”

Because he hasn’t accrued four NFL seasons, Thielen is bound to the Vikings for at least one more year, who have the option of tendering the 26-year-old at the first-round, second-round, or right of first refusal level. Given that he produced 69 receptions for 967 yards and five touchdowns in 2016, Thielen is likely to receive a first- or second-round offer, which would pay him in the neighborhood of $4MM or $2.8MM, respectively. Even with draft pick compensation attached, Baratz believes Thielen could attract interest in free agency.

“I would be shocked if [teams didn’t pursue him],” Baratz said. “I think the cat is kind of out of the bag. He’s had such a good year, and none of it was a fluke. When I talk to evaluators and they’re breaking down film on Adam, they legitimately understand how fast he is. They legitimately understand how good of routes he has.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Roddy White Retires From NFL?

Despite being linked to handful of teams in 2016, former Falcons receiver Roddy White wound up sitting out the entire year. Now, after a conversation with WSB TV’s Zach Klein and Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it sounds like he won’t be returning to the game. White “is done playing,” Schultz writes. Roddy White

During his chat, White went into detail about how close he was to finding an NFL home last season. Interestingly enough, he was close to signing with the Patriots after Atlanta cut him loose in March. Before the two sides could finalize an agreement, however, the Pats opted to sign Nate Washington instead. The Vikings reached out to White after their 5-0 start but by the time the team was ready to sign him, they had begun their slide. He also turned down interest from the Titans and Buccaneers either because he didn’t view them as contenders or worried about playing time. Ultimately, he stopped working out in mid-October when it was clear he would not land with a contender.

White, 34, made four Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro in 2010, when he caught a career-high 110 passes for 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he wasn’t used much in his final NFL season and finished with just 43 catches for 506 yards and a touchdown. White will be remembered fondly by Falcons fans and he’ll likely be inducted to the team’s Ring of Honor sometime soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Peterson

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones isn’t mincing words – he wants to add a big-time pass rusher this offseason.

If I have a chance to bring one of these premier pass rusher, one of these war daddies that takes two to block, if I have a chance to get a player like that, I would,” Jones said, via Vince Langford of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s not a question of that. It’s a question of, where is he? And who gives him up if he’s a veteran, or where is he in the draft, or where is he anywhere. So, yeah we do need pressure. We’re going to try to do something about it.”

The Cowboys already have some intimidating edge rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, but Jones acknowledged that there’s uncertainty with both players due to their surgery and off-the-field issues, respectively. There’s also Jaylon Smith, but he can’t be counted on after missing his entire rookie season.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The Giants should sign Adrian Peterson while Eli Manning‘s Super Bowl window is still open, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News opines. The Vikings will not bring Peterson back at his current rate and it’s possible that he’ll reach the open market in March. Mehta argues that the Giants won’t have to break the bank for the soon-to-be 32-year-old and believes he can succeed if the Giants passing attack takes pressure off of him. There’s a risk of PR backlash, particularly given the Josh Brown saga of last season, but Peterson has stayed out of trouble in the last couple of years. For me, the notion of Peterson signing with the Giants at this stage of his career is reminiscent of LaDainian Tomlinson’s late-career run with the Jets. It’s an idea that sounds good on paper, but there’s only so much you can expect out of a running back after they’ve run up the odometer.
  • The Cardinals are on the lookout for a quarterback to take over after Carson Palmer retires, as Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com writes. “There’s no doubt every GM, there is no question your name has to be put on a young quarterback at some point,” Keim said. “I challenge myself every day, because if you look around the league, you’re not a GM for long if you don’t find (a quarterback). I have to do a better job, with my staff and the coaching staff, we have to identify the right guy and put this organization in position to have success for years to come.”
  • 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is switching agents.