The NFL trade deadline is November 1 and the Vikings, like all teams, have needs. An NFL authority with decades of experience in the pro game thinks the Vikings are okay offensively but could use help with an edge rusher and in the defensive backfield.
However, because of salary cap limitations and the annual track record of minimal trades during the season he isn’t optimistic Minnesota will acquire an impact player during the days ahead. “…I think it’s highly unlikely they’re able to find anybody, but I am sure they’ll take a shot at it,” he told Sports Headliners while asking to speak anonymously.
The Vikings apparently demonstrated cap sensitivity before the season when they cut defensive end Armon Watts. Their estimated cap space now is $1,400,728 per Spotrac.com. “Armon is a good player,” the authority said. “He was a starter and they essentially cut him to save like a million bucks on the cap, which I am not sure was a great move for them.”
Bill Barnwell from ESPN suggested recently the Vikings might trade cornerback Kris Boyd and a sixth- round draft choice to the Chargers for a quality corner in Michael Davis who makes a base salary of $7 million. Boyd has a base salary of $965,000 and plays sparingly. Davis isn’t playing much either because of the Chargers’ depth at cornerback. To make the payroll numbers work Los Angeles would have to pay part of Davis’ money for a half season with the Vikings (who presumably would toss in a future draft choice in the trade).
Davis would be a nice upgrade as a corner slot over the Vikings’ Chandon Sullivan. “I am not big on Chandon Sullivan,” the Sports Headliners source said.
Even more prominent names than Davis draw speculation as players who could soon be traded to other teams. Edge rusher standout Robert Quinn of the Bears makes a base salary of $12.8 million, draws trade speculation and could certainly help the Vikings. “They’re not going to get one of those big name guys,” the source said. “They don’t have enough cap room to do it.”
But he doesn’t rule out a “fringe player” being acquired via trade or waivers to help a Vikings team that has been surprisingly successful. He thought before the season Minnesota looked like a 10-win club. If the Vikings win against the Dolphins today they go to 5-1 and stay in first place in the NFC North.
Then with 11 games remaining, the Vikings need to win seven times for a final record of 12-5 after being 8-9 last season. What’s the difference?
“I think basically they’re winning the close games that they lost last year,” the authority said. “They’re 3-0 in one- score games after going 6-8 in one-score games last year. That’s the turnaround, whether that’s (coming from) coaching or (QB Kirk) Cousins being more clutch, or whatever the case maybe.
“I think the defense is marginally better than it was last year just because they’ve got (Danielle) Hunter and Za’Darius Smith (pass rushers). But the defense isn’t playing lights out. I think the offense is being clutch at the right times in these games and that’s what’s making the difference so far.”
The source also said the players seem to like rookie head coach Kevin O’Connell and play with effort for him. His schemes and strategies have been successful. “So, yeah, I think…for a first year coach, he is doing really well.”
If it comes down to NIL money, TCU may well be the college choice for highly sought-after Riverside, California basketball center Dennis Evans who is also considering the Gophers and is expected to announce his decision Monday. TCU NIL collectives started way ahead of Minnesota’s Dinkytown Athletes that launched in late September.
It’s an intriguing matchup Monday night at Xcel Energy Center when the Wild play the defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche. The 0-2 Wild has budding superstar Kirill Kaprizov, and impressive team depth (except at goalie), but will Minnesota be able to overcome during the season and playoffs the star power on the 1-1 Colorado roster?
When NHL season opening rosters were announced last week the Gophers had 18 alums including defenseman Alex Goligoski with the Wild. The United States Hockey League (USHL), with commissioner Bill Robertson based in the Twin Cities, had 193 alumni on NHL rosters, including 172 active players and 21 that were listed as injured or non-rostered.
Eric Curry, the Minnesota-based veteran college basketball referee, will again work Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West games in 2022-2023. Although it won’t be the majority of his assignments, Curry said he will work more Big Ten games than ever.
Major League Baseball is finally serious about reducing the length of its games and the pace of play. Starting next year pitchers will have up to 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty and up to 20 seconds between pitches with at least one runner on base.
Former MLB umpire and St. Paul native Tim Tschida is enthused. “I think it’s going to make a huge difference,” he told Sports Headliners. “It will kind of be subtle, but it will make the product that much better to watch.”
In the minor leagues last year a pitch clock was used with success, shortening games by 26 minutes and giving promise big league games will last less than three hours. Tschida, who retired 10 years ago at age 52, could tell this year how pitchers called up from the minors worked at a quicker pace. He said in the past pace of play and a game’s lack of competitiveness could discourage fans from watching beyond the fifth inning.
Tschida is also upbeat about the change for next year mandating two fielders must be on each side of second base. Also part of the restriction on shifts and positioning is all four infielders must have both feet within the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber.
The move will put more offense into games and create additional action for fans. “They (MLB) need more base hits,” Tschida said. “They need more advancing the runner, hitting behind the runner. A little bit more ‘small ball’ than what we see (with) guys going up there and swinging for the fence and trying to end the game all the time.”
The new positioning mandate will help pull hitters like the Twins’ Max Kepler to find more openings on the field. Frustrations of hitting the ball sharply into a shifted defense are sure to dissipate for hitters like Kepler.
What did Tschida think of the Twins’ September collapse in the Central Division race? He said injuries left the Twins’ batting lineup with multiple players who aren’t big league hitters. “You’re scoring three runs a game, that’s pretty tough.”
State icon Lindsay Whalen, whose Gophers open their season at home November 7 against Western Illinois, is coaching for job security. After four seasons as Minnesota’s head women’s coach her Big Ten record is 28-44 and she has a contract that only goes through the 2024-2025 season.
Recognition overdue: It was 20 years ago last spring the University of Minnesota men’s golf team won it’s first-ever NCAA championship. No northern school has won since and before the Gophers’ remarkable run, Ohio State in 1979 was the last Big Ten team to win the national title.Comments Welcome