What's going on? "Hello, It's Me." Been away from Allen's Page far too long due to clomps on many levels. A lot has happened since we last chatted in this spot.
#92Noon has a new producer and today he started his second week on the job. JOE NELSON took a more lucrative full-time offer elsewhere and, of course, we all wished him well because we love him. I will miss him greatly on many levels but have been through so much change in my life the last nine years achieving a degree from "Handling School" has helped the transition personally and professionally.
The new guy is ERIC NORDQUIST, and we plucked him from KTLK's stable. He's finding his feet, has some wonderful plans for the 'Production and has been a treat to work with the last two plus weeks. I am excited about the future of the #92Noon Show and to work with Eric.
My seventh-grade basketball team I coach won the Southwest League Title two Sundays ago, and finishing undefeated and nabbing the title with a threebie by DEREK E. with 10 seconds left was a life highlight. Seeing those kids celebrate and take pride in their accomplishment and hard work is as good as it gets for me.
We worked so hard for three plus months to win every game, the parents embraced my direct nature with the kids and it's the best sports-related memory I ever have experienced with my son, DEREK A.
Had this kid MATTHEW L. on the team. Not only was he the best player in the league at 6-foot-1 he's a highly touted left-handed pitcher in the EP system, and we will hear from him at a higher level in less than a decade. Super kid, great listener, share-first kid, raised very well. He fueled our undefeated year and hit the biggest free throw of the season -- front end of a one-and-one -- with six seconds remaining in that title game. We won by two on a very emotional Sunday.
Now for me life segues to Vikings offseason and calling races at Canterbury this summer. The big talker #92Noon right now is NFL free agency, and we made some moves over the weekend and today. Here's what I think to this point and on the eve of the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year":
MATT CASSEL -- He's back on a two-year, $10 million deal and that makes me very happy. He's the perfect bridge to the next guy, and that rookie could be taken at eight overall, via a trade to the end of the first round or around 40.
Cassel was 5-and-3 as a starter last year and WR GREG JENNINGS caught all of his TD passes from Matt. I like Cassel in NORV TURNER'S system given the QB is not required to move a ton and to connect deep. Cassel is fine for now, but the team quietly may be hoping it drafts a QB and said 'slinger wins the job outright this offseason (see RUSSELL WILSON).
EVERSON GRIFFEN -- Like you, I was shocked when I heard he landed $20 million guaranteed. His was non-descript at best last season but shared recently on my radio show he feels he was asked to play too many positions and wants to settle in as the starting RDE.
The wish was granted with this deal he just received. He has started one game his career but always has been bustling with talent and energy. He'll need to hold up against the run to hold the job and I feel the team will draft or sign another DE as insurance and maybe be a rotation guy with Everson.
I like Everson and am happy he received this life-changing deal, but make no mistake this is a statement made by THE GM and organization in that Griffen is ready to handle the load. Clearly, they are paying Griffen on who they think he will be and not necessarily what he has done to this point. Good luck to all involved.
MARCUS SHERELS -- Really happy they got together with Marcus, a bastion of class and punt-returning excellence. He'll battle for the "nickel slot" spot in the secondary.
JASPER BRINKLEY -- The team gave Brinkley a one-year "prove-it" deal and the team owes him nothing if it cuts him before the first game. Jasper provides depth as a middle LB and will battle AUDIE COLE and/or MIKE MAUTI for playing time this offseason. The team, too, could draft a MLB.
LARRY DEAN -- The ST stud was re-signed today and is very good at what he does. I have been told for years he's so good at his job it opens things for many on punt and kick teams. The hope is he has to fight for a job on the team and/or playing time because we get deeper via the draft and house some guys who are good on "specials."
NFL FREE AGENCY: Cincy DE MICHAEL JOHNSON was my top choice for the Vikings via free agency, but that is not happening now in my opinion due to the Griffen move. Plus, I was told today he very much wants to play for Atlanta or Tampa Bay because he went to Georgia Tech and lives back there.
Maybe the Vikings uncovered intel Johnson wanted to play for the Bucs and no matter what they threw at him or that MIKE ZIMMER was his coach he wasn't coming here? Maybe that's why they retained Griffen for the price he received? Maybe there was another team who wanted Everson and the Vikings didn't want to miss out on Johnson and Griffen, and with HARDY and ORAKPO returning to their respective teams that would have sent the team into all out desperation mode.
I don't believe the Vikings want to get into a bidding war for Tennessee CB ALTERRAUN VERNER, and I am fine if it's the case. He's not lickety-split fast and really had just one dazzling season. He'll get a ton of cash from a desperate team right out of the gate tomorrow, but I do not believe it'll be us.
Instead, the Vikings might move on a secondary name at the CB spot and, maybe, retain CHRIS COOK if he wants to operate on a one-year, prove-it deal. JOSH ROBINSON returning to full-time outside duties will help, too, because he looked the part out there most of 2012.
WHO DO WE GET/NEED: Given I am not sure how Griffen will perform at RDE and with so many questions at LB I am all in on NYG DT LINVAL JOSEPH, who plays the FAT PAT defensive tackle spot. He's "the A topic" attacking "the A gap."
Analyst/former player BEN LEBER has been on this angle for months, and he is dead right -- we need a behemoth DT with some skill to keep bodies off LBs, stand up against the run, secure backside cut backs and to cause havoc in a way others on the line receive single blocks.
All of that is what Joseph does, and he rarely is hurt. Signing Joseph via free agency assists the defense on many levels. It would be a meat-and-potatoes signing but I now feel it has to happen to aid the defense.
DARREN SPROLES -- New OC Turner had him for five years in San Diego, and the RB caught 86 passes in 2011 with New Orleans. He only had two TDs last year, and that might drive down his price a bit.
He has not officially been released by the Saints but the steam indicates he will. Given his past with the OC and that we probably will need some pass-catching pop on third down from a RB -- ADRIAN is not that guy and TOBY probably is leaving via FA -- I'd love for us to move on Darren.
We head into tomorrow with me hoping Our Favorite Team closes on Linval Joseph and Darren Sproles. Maybe when we open FA-related gifts there's a more sexy prize, but I am not counting on it. Instead, I'd gladly accept these tools to be added to the box, and the goal is to fix the 5-10-and-1.