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The Vikings five biggest needs this offseason

If you are still recovering from the disappointing end of the Minnesota Vikings, there’s good news: The NFL offseason is about to kick into gear.

Before we look at the Vikings’ offseason needs, here’s some dates you should know:

  • The NFL Combine begins February 27
  • March 6 is the last day teams can apply the franchise or transition tag
  • March 12-14 is the “legal tampering” period for free agents
  • March 14 is the deadline for all teams to exercise option clauses and submit offers & tenders to their 2017 RFAs & ERFAs
  • Free agency and the NFL trading period also begin March 14 and 3 p.m. CT

Alright, now for the positions to keep an eye on as we progress through the offseason….

Starting quarterback

The Vikings currently have zero starting quarterbacks on their roster. Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and Sam Bradford are all free agents, making the number of possible options for 2018 innumerable. They can franchise tag any one of the three – the most likely being Keenum. And the possibility remains (though unlikely) that Bridgewater’s contract can toll onto next season. It’s harder to picture a scenario where Bradford is back.

Since Super Bowl week, Kirk Cousins buzz has died down, but the former Washington QB remains an option for the Vikings. And then there are the only-the-Vikings type scenarios. Quarterbacks like Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Tannehill are long shots, but you can never say never with the QB situation in Minnesota.

We will start to get some clarity soon though. By early March, we’ll know if the Vikings are franchise tagging Keenum. By mid-march, we’ll know if the Vikings plan to work out a new contract with Bridgewater.

Defensive tackle

Tom Johnson did an admirable job stepping into a full-time role this season. He didn’t put up huge numbers, but created pressure and performed well against the run despite being undersized for an every-down player. If the Vikings move on from Johnson, who is a free agent, they could chase a big fish in the form of top UFA DTs Sheldon Richardson or Dontari Poe. Minnesota might also consider defensive tackle toward the top of their draft needs.

Bringing Johnson back is a possibility. After all, he played nearly 70 percent of downs on the No. 1 defense in the NFL. But the Vikings would still need to add another player at the position, whether that’s a draft pick or re-signing Shamar Stephen.

Right guard

While starting right guard Joe Berger hasn’t officially announced his retirement, he mentioned multiple times that 2017 would be his last year in the NFL, so that leaves the Vikings with an opening on the offensive line. This year’s draft is expected to have a group of very good guards and the free agent market has a handful of proven starters as well.

The low-key possibility here is the Vikings drafting a right tackle in the first round and moving Mike Remmers to right guard. Remmers had a strong game at right guard in Week 17 and played on the left side during the Vikings’ two playoff games.

Nickel corner

Terence Newman did a remarkable job at nickel considering he made the position switch at age 39 and didn’t spend all of his preseason and camp reps there. The Vikings could convince Newman to give it one more whirl. If he retires, they could turn the spot over to Mackensie Alexander, who played one-third of the total snaps the year. But there are still questions about whether Alexander can take the next step. If Newman isn’t back, then they will need a just-in-case plan at nickel – which has become a starting spot in the NFL today.

Backup quarterback

There is no better evidence of the importance of having a good No. 2 quarterback than Case Keenum and Nick Foles. There aren’t many proven backups on the market, which may push the Vikings to bring back Bridgewater and Keenum. They could also look to sign Josh McCown, who has previous experience with John DeFilippo.

If the Vikings plan on having Bridgewater as their future, they absolutely must have a plan in case he encounters more knee issues.

BONUS NEED: D-line and skill position depth

One thing we can take away from the Philadelphia Eagles is that you can never have enough talent. The Eagles made two moves that stand out – one in the offseason, the other midseason. They signed pass rusher Chris Long despite already having a talented defensive line and traded for running back Jay Ajayi, though Philly had two solid running backs.

The Vikings are solid at tight end, but it wouldn’t be crazy to invest in another quality player. They could use a true No. 3 receiver and another situational pass rusher.

Vote on which need is the biggest for the Vikings here:

  • Drediock

    add Oline depth

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  • Alan Light

    Nick Foles succeeded due to having all day to throw…Oline, please.

    • Louis

      So the Viking slime faceplates? Live by the blitz, get bounced when it counts.

  • linus

    For what it’s worth (admittedly nothing), my top scenario for free agency (at this point, anyway) would be Cousins and Ja’Wuan James (RT), assuming he’s healthy. James isn’t technically a FA, but there has been some speculation that the Dolphins could let him go rather than pay him >$9 million on his 5th-year option. When the HC was asked in November whether he wanted James back, he basically said “we’ll see.”

  • Corn Bread

    I think we should draft o-line 1 & 2. DT at 3 tech is where we need improvement. Richardson is a risky sign, but the talent is undeniable, possibly too expensive. We’ll all know the QBs in a few weeks.

    • cka2nd

      I think the chance that Zimmer signs off on Spielman letting Richardson into his locker room is pretty much none, nada, “Hell No!”

      • Corn Bread

        Agreed, however, they did bring in Brock. Not exactly a stellar character

        • cka2nd

          Zimmer thought he needed “tough” and I guess Sparano told him Brock was tough. Unfortunately, the play was less tough than the talk.

          I am not aware of any criticism of Brock’s personal character. I say that as someone who disagrees with him about Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee, but there are honorable people on both sides of that question.

  • FL Viking

    The most important need for this Vikings team is to get a 3- technique Defensive Tackle that can rush the passer and push the pocket. Pass rush creates the biggest difference in your secondary’s ability to cover. The Vikings need more pass rush from the defensive interior to let the secondary make more plays and create more turnovers.

    Remember the 3 technique for the Vikings is surrounded by Linval Joseph, Everson Griffin, and Danielle Hunter. With that supporting cast, the 3 technique DT should be getting big numbers at the one position on the Vikings defensive line that the other team can’t afford to double team on a regular basis. I respect the play of Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen, and others that are working to man that spot. I mean them no disrespect and I think the Vikings would be wise to retain Tom Johnson as a good rotational DT but they need a younger player (Johnson is 33) with more size and speed to create consistent pass rush.

    Why are the Vikings in this position?

    Shariff Floyd was a home run draft pick for the 3 technique and his career started well but the injury ended his career early. The Vikings have been “patching” at the the 3 technique since Floyd went down.

    What are the Vikings options to fix the 3 Technique?

    1. Veteran FA or RFA-

    Who are some of the veteran Free Agents the Vikings could look at as an immediate starter?

    Sheldon Richardson (FA) – Sheldon Richardson is a popular name to hit the free agent market in 2018. His supporting class was not good his rookie year in 2013. He still had a good year for a rookie with little supporting talent. In 2014 with Damon Harrison next to him in the 4-3, he put up the best season of his career with 8 sacks. After 2014, the Jets switched to a 3-4 which put Richardson out of position for his next 2 seasons. This season in Seattle, he got back to the 4-3 and put up good numbers but again was surrounded by little supporting talent. I believe what Richardson could do on the Vikings DL at 3-technique would be special with the talent he’d have around him. Tough evaluation for Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman with the money that he will cost. Richardson is only 27 so if you can get him on a reasonable contract, you’ve just solidified your DL for the next 3-4 years as the Vikings just extended Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen last offseason. This one is interesting and exciting.

    David Irving (RFA) – David Irving is not the popular name (probably because he’s an RFA). He is only 24 and has massive size at 6’7″ and 290 lbs. He has steadily progressed in his 3 seasons and finally got a shot in 2017 to progress to a starting role. In only 8 games this season, he had 7 sacks before his season ending injury. This was really Irving’s first year to get a shot as a starter in Dallas since 2015 when he came into the NFL. If the Vikings decide his injury is not a problem (and if Dallas doesn’t match the offer), this could be a real option for a bargain price. The Cowboys are expected to place a 2nd round tender on Irving and if that happens, I don’t see any way the Vikings make this move. He is a very intriguing talent.

    2. In House Options –

    Jaleel Johnson – If somehow the 2017 draft pick Jaleel Johnson progresses quickly from year 1 to 2, then Mike Zimmer could make him the starter. I think that’s unlikely but this Vikings team likes to trust their draft picks. In this scenario, Tom Johnson could come back at age 33 as a rotational player that also serves as an insurance policy form his experience in case the team is wrong in promoting Jaleel Johnson to early. This is a very cheap affordable option that every team hopes occurs with their draft picks.

    3. Draft –

    The Vikings could afford to bring back Tom Johnson back on an affordable 1 year deal, watch the progress of Jaleel Johnson and then simply see what comes their way in the draft. This is GM Rick Spielman’s normal game plan for building the Vikings roster. So what this really all comes down to is whether or not Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman decide to invest money in making the strength of the team, the defense, even stronger or if they choose to sign a FA or whether they continue in their patient team building approach as they have been.

    The Vikings have been desperate without Shariff Floyd to get pash rush out of the 3-technique tackle. They even went as far to put Brian Robison rushing from the tackle spot on 3rd and long downs because that was the best option to have consistent pass rush from the 3 -technique. The problem is you could only do that on 3rd and long when you didn’t have to worry about a DE in Robison playing the run. Credit the Vikings coaches for having the flexibility to put players in a position to help a position in need. However, the Vikings need a long term solution at 3-technique to really take this defense to the next level.

    There’s been some conjecture among some analysts and fans that this Vikings defense has been so good in the past few seasons, that it shouldn’t be expected for that to continue. I argue that the addition of a veteran, talented pass rushing 3- technique on this defensive line would greatly improve this defense and take it to a level even more elite than the 2017 squad. The pass rush would provide a very good secondary the opportunity for more turn overs and allow Mike Zimmer to be more creative in his schemes with what he can trust his front 4 to do.

    So as we wait and watch for what the Vikings do in when free agency opens in a little more than a month, be aware that the coaches know more than we’ll ever know. What action they take will give all of us fans a glimpse into their evaluation of the situation. Happy off season!

  • Marc Spector

    Continue to build that O-Line, CB depth, add a big body WR, add competition to Jaleel Johnson at the 3 tech, and upgrade the kicker position.

  • Erik11235813

    O line more important than spending big on QB. If they are gonna blow a huge wad (of cash) on a FA. then

    I’d rather see Norwell than Cousins. That should mean we pay no more than 16/m yr for case, Someone may out bid… but such will be life. We are 1 or 2 players from having a top 5 O line I think, (can’t plan on regressions.)
    Some depth is needed. 3 technique is the big Defense hole and I see others agree.
    I think extra depth at safety couldn’t hurt. Sendejo has really gotten better. but concussions were an issue, and his meaningless suspension vs the browns.
    exum jr did ok in backup duty, but wouldn’t hurt for an extra safety.
    Smith has been an Ironman, but….

    I will say, compared to previous years, it’s nice to look at this as just a few pieces needed for starting, and alot of the moves are just to give more depth behind the starters.
    minus qb of course….
    any choice could go good or bad, tough to predict what the right move is, so I hope they focus on what they know instead of what they don’t.

    also… does anyone actually think Teddy’s prove it contract should be 8-10 m a year? seems nuts to me.
    i’d think 3-6.. and 6 seems a bit nuts too.

    • linus

      It’s hard to take your opinions seriously when one the players you wrote about (Exum) wasn’t even on the team this year.

      • Andre Esters

        No love for Jayron Kearse or Anthony Harris?!

      • Erik11235813

        Hmm. Yeah… that’s worrying… I don’t know why I thought that he filled in for Sendejo on the Browns game in London…

        Must’ve been thinking of Alexander who also didn’t fill in for Sendejo I’m pretty sure…
        Ty for pointing out my dumbassery.

  • Gordon Guffey

    For me UT or 3Tech whatever you want to call it is just behind QB on my wish list ~ People forget just how good the OL was before injuries to their starting left OG and Center was ~ Back when Case was making throws down the field ~

    Johnson did a nice job for someone his age ~ It feels like we have been saying this about him forever ~ But for me the DL needs a better push up the middle so 3 Tech has to come from FA or the draft ~ The kid they drafted last year Jaleel Johnson was good against the run when he did get on the field but showed little pass rushing ability ~ He looks more like a NT to me ~ They need a healthy Floyd but there not going to get it ~ Well unless he somehow makes a miracle comeback ~ The pass rush was spotty and Zimmer had to send the LBers more than he liked ~ Something he does but like to do based on his own words ~

  • badzeitgeist

    Whichever we can get the better of, RG or RT (in which case Remmers moves inside, where I thought he looked good). Whether we need a C/G depends on how well Easton comes back from injury. A CB in the event Newman is done and Alexander may not get where we need. A DT — but I’d go with competition/replacement for Stephen more than for Johnson/Johnson. And I am not sure why people think we are ok at TE: we have one good receiving TE, and one good blocking TE, and then Bell. LB isn’t necessarily a priority, but a another LB with coverage skills would be good to have. We have plenty of DEs, WRs and RBs.

  • Andre Esters

    If I had twitter my vote would be nickel/secondary… guard/Oline is equally as important, so it would come down to best player available. Having absolutely no QB’s in house (except Sloter) is a crazy realization… until the Vikes down that spot, everything feels like its up in the air.

  • Llaarryy

    If the goal I’d the SB, the biggest need on this team is clearly:

    1. Heart and leadership. Haven’t seen a talented group of guys flat out give up so easily like they did in Philly. I don’t care if we had the raw talent of Jim Brown, Randy Moss, and Anthony Munoz in the game. If you give up early like a little girl whose dress got a small thorn stuck to it, you’re going to lose, and lose big.

    The rest of the Top 5 needs are GM, QB, LT, defensive playmaker, RT.

    Reiff and Remmers played better than I expected. But they would be better inside against playoff caliber DLs and LBs. IMO Reiff could be a Pro Bowl LG the rest of his career.

    I mostly like Rick’s drafts. But his trades and FA signings have way more strike outs than RBI. He clearly lacks a strategic view at the most important position in team sports. He’d be a much better director of college personnel than GM.

  • jacknine

    Drafting RT and moving Remmers inside would be a twofer


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