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Vikings Will Have To Choose Either Way

Much has been made of the possibility that the Vikings have possibly set themselves up to lose defensive end Ray Edwards.

Edwards was a restricted free agent as a result of no new Collective Bargaining Agreement being reached prior to March 5th.  The Vikings chose to tender him at the first round level when they could very easily have justified tendering him at the highest level of a first and third round.  The fact that they did not do so, however, is no mistake.

The level of tender signifies that they may be willing to part ways with Edwards in exchange for a first round pick.  Just as you all have discussed this in depth in the comments section, I too have pondered this notion quite heavily.

The conclusion I have come to is that next year the Vikings will have to choose between Ray Edwards and Brian Robison, and that they would rather go with Brian Robison in the long term, particularly if his departure comes with an additional first round pick.

Since Edwards was tendered, this means that next year could result in both Robison and Edwards being unrestricted free agents (pending a new CBA agreement).  Edwards will not sign a contract with the Vikings if he thinks he’ll be a backup and through numerous chats at Viking Update, Robison has made it clear that he wants to start and feels like he just has to wait to get his chance before he establishes himself as one of the top defensive ends in the league.

So, essentially, the Vikings will have two guys that know they are starters who deserve to be paid as such.  Robison has claimed he can out-do fellow Texas product, and recent top ten draft pick, Brian Orakpo.  He sounds like a guy that will not settle for a backup role and thus will want to skip town if he thinks he’ll still be stuck behind Jared Allen and Ray Edwards on the depth chart.

Robison has not shown any reasons to suspect he is not capable of being a starter in the Vikings defense.  In 2009, Robison played 262 snaps on defense and notched eight tackles, 4.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.  In his three years as a reserve lineman, the 26 year old has 11.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.  He ended the 2010 season very strong and has been a consistent backup.

The two biggest knocks against Robison were mental errors by all accounts.  The first was when he inexplicably lined up in the neutral zone on a punt attempt, drawing a flag.  The other was when he had a kickoff land in his lap, and instead of just falling down, he tried to return the kick which resulted in a lost fumble.

In 2009 Ray Edwards played 974 snaps (almost four times as many as Robison) and had a very strong year with 51 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.  Edwards is streaky, sometimes disappearing for long stretches of time, which is worrisome given that he has the luxury of lining up next to three of the best defensive linemen in the game. 

He showed up huge in the playoffs, however, which is where you want your players to play their best.  In those two games he had eight tackles, four sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Edwards is the type of player that can rub some fans the wrong way.  From his declaration that he would break Michael Strahan’s sack record, to his reported involvement in the Brett Favre “schism”, to his antics in the media regarding his contract status, and finally his recent comparison of what he does on the football field to what soldiers to on the battlefield.

If one were forced to pick between Robison and Edwards, one would certainly have to take versatility into account.  Robison has proven athletic enough to play both end positions, and occasionally has been able to slide inside on passing downs.  Edwards is pretty much a left end in this league with little ability to play elsewhere.  In a long term view, Robison may deserve that lengthy contract extension more than Edwards because if he were to be relegated back to a backup role he could backup many positions.  If Edwards ever lost his starting spot, he would really only be able to backup the left end spot.

Another thing to consider is financial risk.  Edwards has made a name for himself and has starting experience under his belt.  He also has a bit of an ego on him.  He will undoubtedly demand big money and a long term contract.  Robison, however, has very little starting experience and would be more likely to be had for a contract typical for a low-end starter at left end.  In short, Robison would be more affordable and easier on the salary cap (should a cap be in place).

So, when comparing the two, it is a close call.  But knowing that you won’t be able to keep both come 2011 means that getting compensation for Edwards in the form of a first round pick would be a boon. 

I think that is exactly what the Vikings plan is… if they get anybody to bite on Edwards tender sheet.

Robison is entering his prime, will come at a cheaper price, has the drive to succeed, does not have a big mouth, and has been quite productive when given the chance.


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12 Responses to “Vikings Will Have To Choose Either Way”

  1. B. Grant says:

    Not disappointed in losing LT, and would not be disappointed to get a ONE for losing Edwards. Also glad that Kennedy returns. Other than losing Chester and needing veteran help at CB, things seem to be going OK.

  2. Adam Warwas says:

    Another point:

    Had a CBA been agreed to, the Vikings seemed poised to let Edwards walk in free agency without getting ANY compensation. Getting a first rounder, even a late one, would be a huge improvement over getting nothing.

  3. Lost Viking says:

    I have Ray Edwards at 6’5″ and 270 lbs. He appears to be all of that.

    Brian Robison at 6’3″ and 260 lbs appeared to me to be quite a bit leaner than Edwards. Decent size for DE but he’s giving something up. However, Robison seems to have the edge in intensity where Edwards can disappear at times.

    Ray Edwards has established himself. Robison still has a few things to prove

    • Adam Warwas says:

      And that’s the big question… are you, as a football team, content with paying the money to get what Edwards has already proven himself to be

      OR

      are you wanting to pay the money it takes to get Robison to “prove things” on your team instead of somebody else’s team.

  4. B. Grant says:

    …and the next issue is what ONE’s get paid. There seems to be a growing sentiment that teams are having mixed feelings with having a ONE when all it does is cost a whole lot of money for someone yet to truly prove himself. (insert one of many examples.) Still, what are ya gonna do?

  5. starrc10 says:

    Two ONE’s would be awesome this season, even if we traded up to a high 1st rounder. Just sign them up for front heavy 3-5 year contracts. That way you pay out most of it when you do not have a worry about any cap issues.

  6. Fragile Freds says:

    Now this is some excellent speculation. Well done, really. Makes your old pal Freds really think.

    AK riddle me this….

    If Brian Robinson is really a starter in a back ups body, why did we see Ray Ray still in the game in the playoffs when he had such a bad ankle? Shouldn’t we have seen Robinson in his place? Is Ray Ray better than Robinson even with a bad leg? The Vikings coaching staff thought so, right?

    • Adam Warwas says:

      Good question Freds. My first instinct is to be a smart ass and say “the same coaching staff that wouldn’t pull Brett and his basketball-sized ankle so that T-Jack could run for 5 yards and set up the field goal?”

      The more reasonable side of me says that Robison’s versatility and ability to play everywhere (thus, saving roster spots) was the reason he was behind Edwards. Edwards is better at run support, as well, and I won’t deny it.

  7. Lost Viking says:

    Would you move Edwards for a mid-round 2nd pick in 2011? Doubt Vike get a better offer

  8. Lost Viking says:

    Think Childress wants to draft his QB but knows his current and future draft position doesn’t meet those aspirations. To get the QB he wants to go forward he may need to move up in the first round.

    What team is going to offer a 1st rounder for Ray Edwards? Impossible.

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