Over the past 365 days, the Minnesota Vikings indicated that they were fully in win-now mode.
Not only did they trade a first-round pick for Sam Bradford after Teddy Bridgewater went down with a severe knee injury, the Vikings also spent big on two starting tackles, signed high-risk receiver Michael Floyd and traded up several times in the draft to pick potential starters Dalvin Cook and Pat Elflein.
Opportunity may be knocking for the Vikings to make another splash move to improve their roster.
On Friday, the NFL announced that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended for six games due to a domestic violence issue over the summer.
Assuming Elliott doesn’t win his appeal, the Cowboys will be left thin at the running back position for a big chunk of the season. Dallas is still the favorite to win the NFC East, but Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Giants are all competitive teams. Losing Elliott, who rushed for 1,631 yards last season, is a huge hit. Especially when his backups are NFL washups Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris.
With the emergence of Dalvin Cook and versatility of Jerick McKinnon, the Vikings could look into whether Dallas would be willing to deal for Latavius Murray.
Not that the Vikings should be desperate to give away the 2015 Pro Bowl running back. Murray is still a terrific pass blocker who can punch the ball in at the goal line, but his value to the Vikings is diminished by Cook’s presence.
Figuring out what the Vikings could get back is tricky because they’re not desperate for draft picks – it would have to be a player-for-player swap. The Vikings could use more cornerback depth, another experienced receiver, another defensive tackle or a backup offensive lineman.
McKinnon might be more attractive to the Cowboys because he can line up in the slot and catch out of the backfield, but the Vikings should value his role in this year’s offense.
If the Vikings are purely looking to add to their roster, they might consider sifting over the Buffalo Bills’ group of veterans. The Bills made a pair of sell-everything moves on Friday by trading away receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ron Darby.
The player who would best fit the Vikings’ needs is Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams.
While Tom Johnson can handle pass rushing duties from the DT spot, Williams would be a better replacement for Sharrif Floyd’s position. It appears Floyd won’t be playing any time soon. He hasn’t practiced or played since Week 1 of 2016 and reports have suggested that his career could be in jeopardy because of a mistake during knee surgery.
Guard Richie Incognito, also a Pro Bowler, could help the Vikings’ interior offensive line go from serviceable to dominant. Over his two years in Buffalo, Incognito has changed the narrative from being known as the guy who was cut for bullying to a key player on Buffalo’s strong offensive line.
Whether the Vikings could put together the right deal is questionable with their tight salary cap situation, but they should be making every phone call possible to improve a win-now roster.