Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman had noticed a swell of increased popular opinion following the team in the wake of the first week of free agency. The Vikings had signed run stopping defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and upgraded their secondary instantly with the signing of Captain Munnerlyn. Rumors also swirled that the team was interviewing capable linebackers, asking current veterans to accept pay cuts, and had even reached out to free agent cornerback, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a semi-hot commodity on the market originally thought to have been out of the Vikings price range.
And this swell of support from the fans around the Vikings worried Spielman. He decided there was only one thing he could to do slow down the hype-train, lower expectations, and in turn, help him keep his job when the team inevitably plays below their capabilities: Re-sign G Charlie Johnson.
"We just felt it was a move we had to make" Spielman probably said to himself in confidence, but that a conference call microphone probably picked up and heard. "Coach Zimmerman had targeted some great players to meet his scheme, told me I was an idiot when I disagreed with him, and basically told me to sign these specific targets or I'd have a boot in my small intestine. But I showed him – and all those excited fans! I re-signed Charlie Johnson."
Obviously said in confidence and off the record, since no one would want to actually admit that they were the one to re-sign Charlie Johnson to a two-year contract, Spielman has gone back to the obvious explanations in defending this cap move. Citing the fact that Johnson was one of the offensive linemen who helped Adrian Peterson rush for his best season ever in 2012, topping 2,097 yards, and explaining that consistency across the offensive line is huge for a football team, too.
Of course, anyone who has actually watched the Vikings and Charlie Johnson play over the last several years know that "consistency" with Charlie Johnson means disappointment and sluggish movements. Originally brought to the team to be a left tackle after even-fatter Bryant McKinnie was cut, Johnson eventually moved to left guard to replace Steve Hutchinson, and because guards are the fatter, slower, offensive linemen. Everyone knows that. What was once a massive wall and Adrian Peterson's preferred side to run the football, off left tackle behind McKinnie and Hutchinson, became a wasteland of lost yardage and bounce backs to the right side. Rick Spielman, apparently, is looking forward to more of this.
Or maybe it has nothing to do with football at all. What certain sources have indicated to us is that Spielman is apparently aware of Johnson's deficiencies, but ultimately doesn't care. His concern is balancing the team out with just enough good players like Joseph and Munnerlyn with poor players like Johnson on cheap contracts, to justify him keeping his job through lowered fan expectations.
With this latest free agent move, it may just work.