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Updated: March 12th, 2012 11:56pm
Analyzing Vikings' roster entering free agency position-by-position

Analyzing Vikings' roster entering free agency position-by-position

by Tom Pelissero
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The following is a position-by-position look at the Minnesota Vikings' roster entering free agency, which begins at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The team is roughly $23 million under the salary cap. For a breakdown of the team's 2012 salary commitments (as of Feb. 20), click here.


On the roster (3): McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Christian Ponder, Joe Webb.

Free agents (1): Sage Rosenfels.

Outlook: Rosenfels reportedly agreed to terms on a two-year deal on Monday. That all but locks in the Vikings' top three quarterbacks -- Ponder, Webb and Rosenfels -- entering training camp.

Running backs

On the roster (6): Matt Asiata, Ryan D'Imperio, Toby Gerhart, Caleb King, Adrian Peterson, Jordan Todman.

Free agents (1): Lorenzo Booker (restricted).

Outlook: Gerhart is expected to play an increased role while Peterson recovers from knee reconstruction. Booker wasn't expected to receive a tender, leaving an opening for Todman or someone else to seize a situational role. More options could be found in the late rounds of the draft and rookie free agency. D'Imperio had some positive moments last season, but the fullback position is open, too.


On the roster (6): Kris Adams, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Stephen Burton, Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins, Kerry Taylor.

Free agents (2): Devin Aromashodu, Greg Camarillo.

Outlook: The Vikings desperately need at least one outside receiver to complement Harvin and Jenkins, who is a borderline No. 2 at this stage in his career. They probably won't get in a bidding war for Vincent Jackson, but a younger, "B"-level receiver such as Pierre Garcon could be an option. This is one of the deepest groups in free agency. Camarillo won't be back and Aromashodu did so little with his opportunities the Vikings aren't counting on him either.

Tight ends

On the roster (4): Daniel Hardy, Allen Reisner, Kyle Rudolph, Mickey Shuler.

Free agents (2): Jimmy Kleinsasser (retired), Visanthe Shiancoe.

Outlook: Shiancoe turns 32 in June and doesn't fit with the Vikings' youth movement. Rudolph is expected to play a more prominent role in the receiving game, but it's unclear who will fill the blocking void. The options are limited for block-first tight ends in free agency, with Anthony Becht (age 34) and John Gilmore (32) probably too old to get consideration. Reisner and Shuler both have inline ability and spent time on the 53-man roster last season.

Offensive linemen

On the roster (10): Patrick Brown, Joe Berger, Chris DeGeare, Brandon Fusco, Charlie Johnson, Butch Lewis, Phil Loadholt, DeMarcus Love, Jose Valdez, John Sullivan.

Free agents (1): Scott Kooistra.

Outlook: Despite releasing Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera on Saturday, the Vikings appear unlikely to pursue a starting-caliber lineman in free agency. Berger is the favorite to start at right guard and Johnson would move inside to left guard if the Vikings draft USC left tackle Matt Kalil as expected at No. 3 overall. Fusco and perhaps DeGeare also could get a shot. A veteran option at left tackle, such as Jared Gaither or Marcus McNeill once San Diego cuts him, is a long shot but not out of the question. More likely, the Vikings will target an experienced "swing" player, as Kooistra was supposed to be before his career-threatening spinal-cord injury.

Defensive linemen

On the roster (7): Jared Allen, Everson Griffen, D'Aundre Reed, Brian Robison, Remi Ayodele, Christian Ballard, Kevin Williams.

Free agents (2): Fred Evans, Letroy Guion.

Outlook: Firming up the nose tackle position is a necessity. Brodrick Bunkley seems like a fit, but he could come with a big price tag in a thin free-agent market. General manager Rick Spielman has been an Evans fan for years and might bring him back, too. Guion is still only 24 years old and may be worth one more shot at the right price, especially since Williams may not have much time left here.


On the roster (5): Jasper Brinkley, Larry Dean, Solomon Elimimian, Chad Greenway, Tyrone McKenzie.

Free agents (4): Xavier Adibi, E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson, Kenny Onatolu (restricted).

Outlook: Back from hip surgery, Brinkley is the logical two-down replacement for E.J. Henderson, who is breaking down physically and will be 32 in August. The Vikings have made clear they want to retain Erin Henderson, but he may be tempted to test free agency first. Onatolu wasn't expected to receive a restricted tender and Adibi couldn't get on the field last season. Depth is likely to be addressed in the draft.

Defensive backs

On the roster (10): Asher Allen, Brandon Burton, Chris Cook, Eric Frampton, Reggie Jones, Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford, Andrew Sendejo, Marcus Sherels, Antoine Winfield.

Free agents (4): Husain Abdullah, Tyrell Johnson, Jarrad Page, Benny Sapp.

Outlook: The Vikings need an influx of talent and depth throughout the secondary. If Cook's legal issue prevents him from playing, Winfield would be the only starting-caliber cornerback on the roster. Paying big money for Cortland Finnegan or Brandon Carr would suggest the Vikings plan to employ more man-to-man concepts. The "B"-level group in free agency is deep. Abdullah's concussion issues have the Vikings wary of counting on him, meaning they may end up replacing both starters. Heavy-hitting LaRon Landry is the best available but is at his best near the line, not covering in two-deep zones. Drafting multiple defensive backs seems like a no-brainer.


On the roster (3): Chris Kluwe, Ryan Longwell, Cullen Loeffler.

Free agents (1): Matt Katula.

Outlook: Loeffler is on schedule to return from back surgery. Katula won't be back.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
In this story: Husain Abdullah, Kris Adams, Xavier Adibi, Jared Allen, Asher Allen, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Devin Aromashodu, Matt Asiata, Remi Ayodele, Christian Ballard, Joe Berger, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Lorenzo Booker, Jasper Brinkley, Patrick Brown, Stephen Burton, Brandon Burton, Greg Camarillo, Chris Cook, Ryan D'Imperio, Larry Dean, Chris DeGeare, Solomon Elimimian, Fred Evans, Eric Frampton, Brandon Fusco, Toby Gerhart, Chad Greenway, Everson Griffen, Letroy Guion, Daniel Hardy, Percy Harvin, E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson, Anthony Herrera, Steve Hutchinson, Michael Jenkins, Charlie Johnson, Tyrell Johnson, Reggie Jones, Matt Katula, Caleb King, Jimmy Kleinsasser, Chris Kluwe, Scott Kooistra, Butch Lewis, Phil Loadholt, Cullen Loeffler, Ryan Longwell, DeMarcus Love, Tyrone McKenzie, Kenny Onatolu, Jarrad Page, Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder, Mistral Raymond, D'Aundre Reed, Allen Reisner, Brian Robison, Sage Rosenfels, Kyle Rudolph, Jamarca Sanford, Benny Sapp, Andrew Sendejo, Marcus Sherels, Visanthe Shiancoe, Mickey Shuler, John Sullivan, Kerry Taylor, Jordan Todman, Jose Valdez, Joe Webb, Kevin Williams, Antoine Winfield