COMMENTARY: Vikings players should be subject to trading deadline fire sale

CHICAGO -- Vikings for sale! Vikings for sale! Cheap! Not the team, but individual players. Hey, all you NFL general managers out there, get your very own Minnesota Vikings player. Take him home to play with your kids. Let him tend to the petunia...

McNabb tackled
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb (5) is tackled by Chicago Bears defenders Israel Idonije (71) and Stephen Paea, rear, in the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011. The Bears won 39-10. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO -- Vikings for sale! Vikings for sale! Cheap!

Not the team, but individual players. Hey, all you NFL general managers out there, get your very own Minnesota Vikings player. Take him home to play with your kids. Let him tend to the petunias in the garden. Have him wash the car. All we ask for is a seventh-round draft pick in return. And, of course, you take over paying his salary.

The NFL trade deadline almost always passes unnoticed. It's not a big deal the way it is in other sports where there is a flurry of last-minute activity. The Vikings desperately need to change all that.

The 2011 deadline is Tuesday. It should be a very big deal. There ought to be balloons, parades and free hot dogs at Winter Park if Rick Spielman, the Vikings' Invisible Man, can partially salvage a lost season by dumping veterans for draft picks. Even very low draft picks would be swell. So would a bag of Doritos.

"We have to talk about a lot of things when we get back to the office," coach Leslie Frazier said of possible deadline moves. "There are a lot of things to discuss."


He was speaking in the aftermath of the Vikings' brutal 39-10 loss to the Chicago Bears. It was a defeat that defensive end Brian Robison described thusly: "Humiliating. It's the only word I can think of right now. Simply humiliating."

So this is where Spielman comes in. He is vice president of player personnel. As far as vice presidents go, he might be the worst since Spiro Agnew. But he has a chance to change that and at least move up to the Dan Quayle level by dumping veterans for anything that might help down the road. Anything. A roll of tape. Some eye black.

These Vikings -- Spielman's Vikings -- are off the charts in terms of being lousy. Their performance on national TV against the Bears on Sunday night was embarrassing.

"We really didn't play well in any phase tonight," said Frazier, still quietly understated despite seeing things no coach should ever have to see.

I don't think Frazier is getting through to his players. And even if he were, I don't think they are good enough to do anything about it. The Vikings have a couple of star players, a couple of decent players and a whole bunch of nothing.

A lot of people are yelping to see Christian Ponder in at quarterback. Good idea. He played a little in Sunday night's rout. Maybe tight end Kyle Rudolph could see more action, too. But the heck of it is, other than those two, there isn't a lot of young talent waiting in the wings. The Vikings lead the league in journeyman backups. There's no one else worth looking at.

Now I don't know what Spielman is thinking. He has refused interview requests, saying he doesn't do them during the season. That's astounding. Basically, he refuses to be accountable. Apparently he is content to hide in his office while Frazier takes all the heat. As bad as their teams have been recently, Bill Smith, David Kahn and Chuck Fletcher won't hide. They'll stand up and be accountable. They won't let their coaches hang out to dry. Rick is special, I guess.

Let's see if he can do something by Tuesday. When the Childress Monster left, a more traditional front-office hierarchy was established amid the rubble. So far, that front office appears to be inept. The team is bumping up against the salary cap and can't play worth a lick.


Maybe Spielman will put some sort of stamp on the team. Here's his chance. We need to drop the charade of having a contending or even decent team in 2011. It's best to look ahead. I think people would rather look forward to having a few extra draft choices down the road than watching this mess as it is. There is no hope here.

But the problem with trying to dump some of these fellows is that they make too much money. The only thing worse than having a bad player is having an expensive bad player (see Bernard Berrian).

Spielman needs to do something. It's hard to put into words how inept the Vikings were Sunday night. But, as an example, consider this sequence late in the first half:

On third and 4 from the Chicago 16, and with Donovan McNabb actually playing productively on a long drive, the Vikings' brain trust opts for the wildcat formation. I have no idea why. The direct snap to Joe Webb results in a grand total of 1 yard.

The field goal unit comes on during the break for the two-minute warning. The players line up. Oops, maybe Frazier doesn't want to go for the field goal after all. So despite having the two-minute break to think it through, he calls a timeout. Then he sends his offensive unit back onto the field to go for it.

Michael Jenkins gets called for being offside, making it fourth and 8.

The field-goal unit marches back on. Ryan Longwell misses the 38-yard attempt.

That is what is known in football parlance as "buffoonery."


It's not going to get any better. Maybe Spielman can dump some deadwood. And while he's at it, maybe he can unlock his office door and then stand up and take a share of ownership in what's going on.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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