Vikings general manger Rick Spielman sat down with reporters this morning to discuss the team's plans for the offseason, which include contract discussions with a few key players and the team's plans for the upcoming draft.
Contract talks for Smith, Greenway
Spielman mentioned safety Harrison Smith as one Viking that could be due for a contract extension this summer.
“I would imagine he would be one of those guys coming down the pipe here pretty soon,” Spielman was quoted as saying by Vikings.com,“Harrison, with the way he runs our back end of the defense, I think he’s one of the better playmakers at safety.”
Reporters for the Star Tribune also noted that Spielman jokingly downplayed Smith's effectiveness while speaking about the safety as a means of deflating the player's contract value.
"So he’s a good safety. Good." Spielman cracked, "I’m just saying he’s a good safety.”
The GM also mentioned that he'd had a positive conversation with free agent Chad Greenway's agent about bringing the veteran linebacker back. Spielman deemed 37-year-old cornerback Terrance Newman as a potential returning player as well.
Draft time approaches
The Vikings are midway through their draft evaluations, according to Spielman. He said the team has gone through offensive prospects, and is still working on defensive players. He plans to continue developing the team through the draft, rather than focusing on landing big name free agents, he said.
“That’s the number one thing to me,” Spielman was quoted as saying by 1500 ESPN, “If you draft them right, those are the guys that you should know. If you know them the best, it’s the safest investment."
Spielman will be headed to the NFL's scouting combine in Indianapolis next week, and characterized this draft as a "deep" one, from the research he's seen so far.
While he deferred all final decisions to the Vikings coaching staff, Spielman said he'd like to see Teddy Bridgewater "let loose a little more."
Spielman said kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson is in a "telltale year" when it comes to Patterson's prospects as a wide receiver.
When asked about whether the Vikings would look to bring in a new kicker after Blair Walsh's miss during the Seattle Wild Card game, Spielman said: "Blair Walsh is our kicker. And I understand him missing that last kick (drew criticism), but I also know we wouldn’t have been in that situation if he didn’t kick the three before in those conditions. Our organization and our coaches have confidence in Blair."