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Ben Leber, Former Minnesota Vikings Linebacker

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
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June 8, 2023 9:42 pm

Ben Leber, Former Minnesota Vikings Linebacker

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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June 8, 2023 9:42 pm

Ben Leber joined Zach to discuss why the Vikings decided to move on from Dalvin Cook and why he believes the Vikings and Justin Jefferson will agree to a contract extension before Week 1. 

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Ben, how are you?

Oh, Zach. I'm doing great, man. How are you doing?

I'm doing fantastic and I appreciate your time. If I'm a Vikings fan today, I know you can't be shocked by this news because it's been speculated for a while, but I'm annoyed by it. How is the Minnesota Vikings fan reacting today when it looks like we're finally going to get an outcome on this whole Dalvin Cook situation? You know, I think, I think annoyed might be the right word because I think that people do understand. I think the fans, they get it. I think they understand why he got released.

I mean, it's not because they don't like him. It's not because they didn't think that he was valuable. It's just like, look, it's a contract thing. When, when Kwesi, the GM for the Vikings, took over this job. I mean, it was, we were not in a great cap situation. The tough decisions had to be made.

A number of veterans got let go of this off season and he's just another one of the beloved Vikings that is going to get released and not be on the team for this next season. So I think annoyed is the right word, but I think that there is a fair amount of understanding, you know, I think it is bizarre when you look on social media where the fingers are being pointed. A lot of people are saying like, oh, Kwesi doesn't know what he's doing.

He's in over his head and other people are saying, no, no, no, no, you know, like Rick Spielman has a lot to do with this. You know, Kwesi walked into a situation. It's very tough and tough decisions have to be made and you know, I credit Kwesi for, for making some tough decisions and that's what you have to do as a leader is you got maybe keep your emotions in check, even though he's a great player and a great person. You just, you can't afford him. What is saving the money though, do for them this year, this late in the game with, you know, pretty much a lot of the big-name trades already being done and then also free agency for the most part being over? Well, something like, you know, if they, if they could have traded him, which, you know, you know, unless something happens the next couple hours is not going to happen. And at that point, like what's a six-round pick, like seriously? Yeah, but there is a cap savings, you know, that's that is decently significant. So if it's a June post-June 1 trade, it's 11 million dollars savings. If it's a post-June 1 release, it's nine million dollars. So if they, if they could trade them, and it doesn't matter, trade them for a seventh rounder and a cup of coffee, doesn't matter, right?

Sure. You just trade them with the designation as a trade and you gain two million dollars versus releasing them. So, so there is a benefit to finding a trade partner. It just sounds like I doubt a deal is going to get done. They've already told us camp that they're going to release them tomorrow. So there is a nine million dollar cap savings that will, will eventually go to Justin Jefferson's new contract, which I imagine will happen at some point in time before the season starts. Oh, you think that deal is going to get done for Justin Jefferson before the season starts?

Because we were actually just talking about this right before you brought it on and I just said, I know they, they probably don't have much to do with one another. But if I'm a Viking fan, I hear that Delvin Cook is no longer going to be here. I need Justin Jefferson locked up and getting a long-term deal done before the start of the season. Yeah, I think that makes the most sense.

I think it sounds like, it sounds like that's kind of where it's trending that, you know, something will get done before the season. Now, he has not been at OTA's. I imagine he's going to be at mini camp.

I don't think that it's necessarily a true peacock move where he's just like, all right, you know, let's play a game of chicken and let's see who flinches. I think that, you know, he probably wasn't going to show up for OTA's anyway, and he's a, you know, Justin's like the greatest blend of everything. Like he gets it. He knows how to be a showman.

He knows how to be a performer, but he also is, you know, I think quickly understanding his value within the league and not just the Minnesota Vikings. So I think there is a leverage play here, not showing up for OTA's, but he's being quiet about it. You know, his camp is being quiet. It's not like he's not out there, you know, doing weird things on social media to make it seem like he's unhappy or he's disgruntled.

He's just like, hey, I can play this business game too. I don't have to be there. I'm not going to be there. I'll most likely show up for training or for mini camp here next week and you know, hopefully, you know, I think for for all parties included including the fans. I would like to see Justin get get wrapped up and you know, become one of the highest paid players in the league because he deserves it and I think he's going to have a great value in return. So get the deal done and move on. I love Justin Jefferson and agree with everything that you just said, but you never want to put him in a spot where he starts to want out and who knows what the future this team's going to look like because I don't even know if the quarterback is going to be there Ben Lieber coming up a year from now and that's the last thing you want is not having a quarterback and then a wide receiver goes.

Yeah, I'll go elsewhere to go get my money. Well, that's that's just it. You know, you know, I think I think Devante Adams kind of felt the same way, you know, I think he knew the writing on the wall, you know, he and Aaron are super close and you got to think that his departure has a lot to do with he didn't have a lot of confidence and knowing that that Rogers going to stick with Green Bay and you know here here we are right now and he's a jet. So I don't think that you want to go down the road of like flirting with this idea that what you know, if you know, if we don't have a guy that you can throw in the ball then, you know, what am I going to do here? I think you just you just lock him up right now and you take away any sort of negative thoughts or any sort of question marks, but you know that whole thing with with Kirk is it's real. I mean, he's he's admitted it. He's like look I this is not the first time I've been on a one-year prove-it-deal and he's like I understand where the Vikings are coming from. I got to go out there and prove that I'm worth another extension and he wants to be here. He's saying all the right things and I think he's going to have an incredible season and really put the Vikings in a tough situation because I think he's really going to flourish once again with a with a better defense under Brian Flores and all of a sudden you're like, well, what do you do? You know, you've got a guy that's been super durable that you know, can can really, you know, make this offense go.

He's got a lot of weapons. Do you just kind of blow up the quarterback position even though you've got these high-valued receivers and players Ben Lieber, what do you think that defense will look like this year because we've talked about this before you don't sugarcoat it. The defense the last few years has just not been up to par.

No, they suck. I mean, you know not been up to par is like being really nice to ask me. Maybe if they have been they've been awful.

I mean, it's been frustrating. Like every game you think like, okay, this is the game where I think if they just turn around and they they play better defense, it's going to be you know, the play better run defense specifically. It's going to be better and the same thing just happens over and over again and they play this flat-footed stagnant defense that you know, basically you just Telegraph where all the holes are going to be you Telegraph where the coverages were going to be and you Telegraph basically every blitz that was coming. So the change needs to be made and now we're going to complete opposite direction and Flores is bringing in an attacking on your toes sort of defense. It's going to be a lot of guys at the line of scrimmage. It's going to create a lot of chaos.

But by doing that just by creating chaos and being deceptive. Does that mean you know, you're going to be good. I mean look at the Lions from last year.

It took a while for Aaron Glenn to figure it out. You know, he is very much a blitz heavy, you know, same sort of philosophy. We're going to bring a lot of chaos. We're going to make the offense really think and their defense was terrible for two-thirds of the season before you start to figure out like, okay, maybe I shouldn't maybe I shouldn't blitz as much. Maybe I shouldn't live and die by this blitz and leave our secondary to hang out some drive.

So just because it's attacking style doesn't mean it's going to be better. But I do think the reputation that he brings it's it's it's going to be better, you know, it's maybe not top 10, but it'll be, you know better than than 31st in the league last year. What message is this send to the locker room today with Dalvin Cook because before you came on Ben Lieber we were discussing you look at the NFC you feel really good about Philadelphia. If the 49ers could ever figure out their quarterback, even if they don't they're always in the NFC Championship game. It feels like but other than that this is right there for the taking and I don't think Minnesota is a great team on paper, but they're a good team and getting rid of Dalvin Cook. I think it makes them worse today.

You know, it's interesting because yeah, you lose you lose a home run hitter. I mean you look at a couple games last year and Dalvin absolutely was the x-factor late in the game. But you know, if you're statistics guy, you're going to lean on you're going to lean on the whole like, you know, net yards on first down and you know, he's one of the worst when it comes to kind of feast or famine. It's either he was zero or negative yards or a home run hit and you watch the games that kind of does marry up, you know versus what Alexander Madison can do now. We don't know what he can do when he's toting the ball and being the bell cow guy, but he does give you more positive yards on a more consistent basis and with with the signing of Josh Oliver the best blocking tight end in the league and the offseason the resigning of CJM, which a lot of people was surprised by they're like, wow, we didn't think koc's offense was going to value this fullback position as much as he is and we all if we all felt like the only reason he was on the team last year is just because he was under contract and he's one of our special teams captains. Well, he went out and earned another contract and so it's telling me that we're going to see more fullback. We're going to see much more 22 personnel.

We're going to see a lot more downhill in your face aggressive style run game and that suits a guy like Alexander Madison and even if it is two three yards on first down that's better than it was last year because Dalvin had a lot of zero zero gain yards on first down and really handcuffed our passing offense and second third down. What do you think the lines will do this year? Because I feel like if we put a poll question out there who's going to win the NFC North the lines will get the majority of those votes right now just with the way that people are talking about them.

No, I think that's true. I mean, there's a lot of people around here a lot of Vikings fans thinking the same thing and I think that's fine. I mean, you know, we it is a nice it is a nice kind of pat on the back.

It's in the offseason. You get a lot of love, but I think that's also a dangerous spot to be in, you know, they're they got to go out and earn the respect on a consistent basis. So I I kind of like the fact that the Lions rightfully so are slated to win NFC North it puts a target on the back. It puts them in a position that they've never been in for what decades and let's see how they handle it. We'll see if they can handle success and I like the fact that every week the Vikings will get doubted because you'll look at the season last year and a lot of people say, yeah, look for first-round loss to the Giants, you know, they were the paper tiger like they claim they a lot of people were saying they were through the regular season. So they still have a lot to prove and I like being in that position. Ben Lieber when you look at Green Bay this year, what do you expect Jordan love here?

I know it's not year one, but it's basically your one as him as a starting quarterback in this league. It's funny that I think the offense is going to be more dynamic. I don't know if it's going to be more productive, but I think as a defender you're going to have to think about a lot more stuff. You can probably gain an advantage just off of inexperienced that you know, Brian Flores is going to be be, you know, chomping at the bit to show him some disguises and roll his safety's around and move his corners up and down. I'm just going to give a bunch of different looks and he'll win that he'll win that battle. But when it comes to defending everything the running part of it the scrambling part of it the ability to create I think he's going to have a little bit of more of an upper hand than what Rogers has been doing the last few years even though Rogers is, you know, he's still ran around quite a bit.

He still created quite a bit. I think just Jordan's going to give him a little extra athleticism in that spot and that's going to be tough to defend when we get to the future of Dalvin cook Ben Lieber. Where do you think he's going to wind up? I know everyone keeps on talking about Miami. You hear a little bit about Denver. Maybe it is with the Jets with Aaron Rogers yet. Take a guess. Is it Miami or someone else? You know, I think his familiarity with George Payton and Denver I think kind of puts them on the top and I got to be honest. I know a lot of players say they want to play close to home.

I don't know this for anything. I'm just making an assumption here. I don't know if Dalvin going to Miami is as easy as people you know, make it sound like all he's going to go back home be close to family and friends and blah blah blah like a lot of players don't necessarily want to do that. That's a that's that is a big-time distraction factor for the player and you know, they they are sitting on a really good team right now.

So he might just be looking at the bigger picture, but I think for maybe Comfort for a GM that really knows him and George Payton. I would actually put Denver on the top of that list Mountain Dew zero sugar asked never wonder what it would be like to live in an alternate universe. Well friends. Welcome to the alternate universe of Mountain Dew zero sugar because even though it says zero sugar right there on the bottle when you crack one open and try it the taste is nothing less than outrageously delicious. Hey transport yourself to an alternate universe with Mountain Dew zero sugar zero sugar all do quit your Thursday quality Mart today where you can get 220 ounce ice cold Mountain Dew's for only 350 Mountain Dew and quality Mart do the do
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-08 23:01:40 / 2023-06-08 23:08:43 / 7

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