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Vikings free agency top 30 countdown, Part 1 (30-26)

With nearly $60 million in salary cap space, the Minnesota Vikings could be active in free agency this year. In the weeks leading up to the free agent period beginning on March 14, we will look at the 30 best available players who would fit the Vikings’ needs. 

Here is a list of the Vikings’ biggest offseason needs:

The Vikings five biggest needs this offseason

Now for numbers 30-26…

30 – DB, Darius Butler

Dec 29, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts cornerback Darius Butler (20) is introduced during player introductions before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats Jacksonville 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Key stat: 

Only targeted 13 times in 499 snaps (17th in coverage snaps/target)

Why he fits:

Over the last two years, Butler has moved from nickel corner to safety and performed well. In 2016 he was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 31st best safety in the NFL. Going into his age-32 season, the long-time Colt isn’t likely to land a starting job, but he could provide versatility and depth. He could rotate into a cornerback spot in a pinch and play as an extra DB in obvious passing situations. And if someone got hurt, he could step into either a nickel corner or safety role.

29 – RB, Darren Sproles

Nov 22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles (43) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Key stat:

Averaged 4.3 yards per carry over his last three years and caught 52 passes in 2016

Why he fits:

The Vikings will have to find a replacement No. 3 running back if Jerick McKinnon does not re-sign in Minnesota. Sproles may be 34 and coming off an injury, but he has been effective into his 30s like few running backs are. He ranked 18th in PFF’s Elusive Rating in 2016 and has graded as a solid pass blocker in the past. With Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray set to take up most of the snaps, Sproles would be a change-of-pace back and could line up as a receiver to create mismatches.

28 – DT, Bennie Logan

Key stat:

17th best in PFF’s “Run Stop Percentage”

Why he fits:

If the Vikings move on from free agent Shamar Stephen, they will need a defensive tackle who can rotate in and dominate against the run. Logan isn’t one to get after the passer, but he is one of the better DTs in the NFL against the run. The 28-year-old DT would also provide depth at nose tackle in case Linval Joseph had to miss time.

27 – WR, Taylor Gabriel

Photo credit: USA Today

Key stat:

8.1 Yards After Catch per Completion in 2016

Why he fits:

If you remember the Vikings’ role for Cordarrelle Patterson in 2016, you can appreciate Gabriel’s role in the Falcons’ offense. The undersized, speedy receiver was used as a playmaker when at his best, often taking short passes and turning them into big gains. The Vikings do not currently have a player like Gabriel on the roster. New OC John DeFilippo could find the right situations to use his talents.

26 – OG, Zach Fulton

Key stat:

Second best Pass Blocking Efficiency among free agent guards

Why he fits:

Fulton spent a good chunk of last season playing center, which adds to his value. Over the last two years, the Chiefs’ O-lineman has played over 700 snaps and scored mid-pack by PFF ratings. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder could be an option to take Joe Berger’s spot at right guard. He is just 26 and may still have room to improve.

  • James Jacob Berreth

    Interesting ideas especially Fulton on the O line which will become even more important if Berger does retire!

  • cka2nd

    30. Sign Butler only if Newman doesn’t come back. We still need to develop young depth at CB in any case, so CB should be a target somewhere in the draft.

    29. I like Sproles as RB3, even if he has to go through a Day 3 draftee, college FA and Mack Brown to win the job.

    28. I’ve been banging the drum for a true run-stuffer to rotate with Joseph for years, so Logan sounds good to me.

    27. If DeFilippo agrees with Coller that no one currently under contract can do the job, and it’s a job he wants done, Gabriel’s okay by me.

    26. There are better options than Fulton – more expensive, true, but better – available in both free agency and the draft. On the other hand, if Easton should be signed away, even as a RFA, Fulton as a super-sub makes a lot of sense, assuming he has the athleticism for the system.

    • Gordon Guffey

      I like your list ~ With that said I don’t really see any way the Vikings let Easton go ~ Here I’m just talking about Easton in general and not at you LOL ~ He hasn’t started long enough to demand a big contract from anyone including the Vikings ~ He is the starting left OG going into training camp and a good one when healthy and for some reason the Vikings always seem to have trouble finding a good left OG ~ The reason I do not know LOL~ He played well in his first chance at starting and was very good a pulling and getting to the 2nd and 3rd levels of a defense ~ You could see the difference once he was out of the lineup ~ However he has to prove he can stay healthy and has collected a nice paycheck while he learned ((( and this should be worth something to any young player when looking at their second contract with something proven yet so little to go on ))) so he shouldn’t put up to much of a fuss if offered a fair contract ~ But if he does he will hear {{{ See Ya Later }}}

      Is Gabriel any different that Wright ~ ??? In the past few years if your not a run blocking WR you dont see the field very often as has been the case with Wright ~

      I like Sproles also but hope they can find a way to resign the younger McKinnon ~ But if they cant I would be happy giving Sproles a shot ~

      I really like Bennie Logan also ~

      Remmers makes #26 kind of questionable big for me as to where the Vikings need to add talent ~ They had a couple of guys playing out of place and it showed in playoffs ~ There has been talk of moving and keeping Remmers at right OG ((( Coller and Judd as well as other sports news outlets like vikings.com ))) where he had one good game and then being moved to left OG where he didn’t have such a good game to following week ~ Hill to me is a huge question mark as a starting OT be it on the left or the right side ~

      • cka2nd

        McKinnon wants RB2 snaps and RB2 money, and unless we want to cut Murray, which I believe we COULD, but won’t, do, he’s not going to get either the snaps or the money from us.

        If I understand the Restricted Free Agent rules correctly, and that’s a BIG if, Spielman is not going to offer Easton enough money to qualify for either a first or second-round tender, which I agree would make him virtually un-signable. If Easton had been drafted, there’d be a third tender level where we
        could be compensated with a draft pick in the same round that he’d been drafted in. However, because Easton was signed out of college as an undrafted free agent, I THINK we would only have the right of first refusal if some other team offered him more money than we did. Some team might offer him enough, and a pretty much guaranteed starting job, which could put Spielman in a bit of a pickle, forced into letting Easton walk or paying him a fair bit more than we’d offered him. PLEASE ANYONE, IF I’VE GOT THESE RULES WRONG, FEEL FREE TO CORRECT ME!!!

        A couple of RFA’s do end up changing teams every season, and my speculation is that with no risk of losing a draft pick, some team might be willing to overpay Easton a bit to get someone who fits their scheme perfectly. Frankly, it’s Easton and McKinnon who I think Shurmur might end up signing away from us, not Keenum.

        • Gordon Guffey

          I will take your work cka2nd on this matter ~ Well after they find out what they have to spend on next years QB OL could be back in play in FA orand the draft ~ I will look forward to see how they will replace McKinnon ~ Just a shame we cant find a way to keep him seeing how he is proven in his skill set ~

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    • Bob T.

      Are you wanting all of these? Perhaps you are giving an analogy. I will be interested in your considerations of 25-1. What did you call me?

      • cka2nd

        No, my comments only apply to each individual in isolation from the others. I imagine Spielman is only going to sign a few free agents to go along with his draft picks. For example, if Newman does retire, a veteran free agent CB would make a lot of sense, along with one or two draftees (we need to develop young depth at CB). On the other hand, while I appreciate Sproles’ work, I’d lay heavy odds on the draft being the preferred way of filling McKinnon’s shoes. I’d also rather re-sign Michael Floyd than any other FA receiver; he’s got the size, speed, skill-set and resume we still need, and could be only the latest veteran to get better in his second year as a Viking (see Shiancoe, Munnerlyn, Lamur, Joseph, Newman…).

        • Bob T.

          I must be tired. I don’t see “a veteran free agent CB making a lot of sense, along with one or two draftees.” I would agree a CB should be sought but for me it isn’t the worthy of 3 extra contracts. Possibly the 3 6th rounders on your 2 CB drafts and 1 RB.

          • cka2nd

            Right now, only Rhodes, Waynes and Alexander are set in stone. Our three other 2017 active roster CB’s are all free agents, Newman, Brock and Sherels. We’ve got a kid or two on futures contracts, but unlike Safety (Harris and Kearse), DT (J. Johnson), DE (Bowers and Weatherby) and LB (Gideon, Wilson and Brothers), we don’t have a single young CB back-up on the active roster. Hence, my desire for one or two in the draft; hopefully one makes the roster and the other goes on the practice squad, kind of like what happened with Coley and Adams at wide receiver last year. My ideal CB bench for next year is:

            CB4 – Newman or some other quality veteran
            CB5 – A rookie in place of Brock
            CB6 – Sherels

            The only actual “extra contract” would be for a draftee CB competing for a place on the practice squad.

            But who knows, the Vikings did trade for Brock, and even after his poor season they may want to keep him AND Newman and will only run the usual inexpensive challengers at Sherels, as they do every year.

          • Bob T.

            Makes sense. Thank you

          • cka2nd

            You’re welcome.

  • Gordon Guffey

    Darren Sproles is a RB AP should have been looking up to and wanted to be like ~ Had he he might not only been someone still useful today and with his running skills he might have been a first time HOFer ~

    • Andrew Stead

      I’m no fan of the Noted Parent, but no. Two completely different athletic skill sets. John Randle could never be Jerry Ball; Jimmy K could never be Andy Glover or Vinny Shanks. The Noted Parent should have given a damn in pass pro, and if so could have then been credibly on the field on 3rd down. But asking him to be like Sproles would have been asking a bear to fly south for the winter.

      • Gordon Guffey

        I was speaking of his effort to be a complete pro ~ Sorry if i didn’t make that clear ~

        • fritzdahmus

          You made yourself very clear Gordon. Andrew spends too much time being a smart-ass…and not enough time on reading comprehension.

  • Gordon Guffey

    On a side note ~

    FOX will televise draft for five years
    Posted by Mike Florio on February 14, 2018, 7:59 PM EST

    FOX will simulcast NFL Network’s Thursday, consisting of the first round, and Friday coverage, which includes rounds two and three. It’s unclear what will happen on Saturday for rounds four through seven. Per Ourand, FOX has commitments for the third day of the 2018 draft, and it may not be able to adjust them.

    FOX will co-produce the event with NFL Network.
    As noted by Ourand, ESPN becomes the clear loser here, with a three-letter broadcast network now attracting millions of eyeballs that otherwise would watch the four-letter network that has been televising the draft for decade.
    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2018/02/14/fox-will-televise-draft-for-five-years/

  • Gordon Guffey

    Ouch ~ Does another Norv pick bites the dust ~ ????

    Vikings may seek to trade WR Laquon Treadwell
    2/14/2018 11:25:53 AM

    The Minneosta Vikings “could be proactive this offseason” and find a trading partner for wide receiver Laquon Treadwell according to Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com.

    Originally the 23rd-overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Mississippi, Treadwell has not been able to get his NFL career off the ground with just 21 catches for 215 yards and no touchdowns in two seasons. The 22-year-old is in desperate need of a lightbulb-flipping offseason to give any hint of hope he isn’t a massive draft bust. And the chances of that happening in Minnesota seem to be very slim, as the team has the dynamic starting duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in place for several more season. Treadwell even seems to have fallen behind Jarius Wright on the depth chart as the No.3 receiver.

    Even if the Vikings are able to trade Treadwell, they will likely recoup no more than a late-round draft pick despite his lofty pedigree. There is no guarantee that a change of scenery will fix whatever is ailing Treadwell but it seems clear things are not going to work out for him in Minnesota.

    http://www.theredzone.org/Blog-Description/EntryId/68347/Vikings-may-seek-to-trade-WR-Laquon-Treadwell

    • cka2nd

      Maybe exchange him for Paxton Lynch or some other on-the-verge draft bust?

    • sandbun

      If you check out the Cronin column they’re referencing, it’s a story by espn’s team reporters for one player on every team that needs a change of scenery. In other words, it looks like this is more ‘it would make sense’ than something she’s reporting that she’s hearing rumors about. But a high 5th or better would have me pulling the trigger, or I like cka2nd’s idea of trading him for someone else that has been disappointing thus far.
      http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/page/32for32x180214/nfl-players-need-change-scenery-all-32-teams

    • Bob T.

      I don’t have the time to study the minute to minute stuff, but I do study draft picks pretty hard starting in December. In the Treadwell/ Doctson draft I was huge on Doctson ( no I haven’t looked at the numbers and compared. No I haven’t diagnosed the possibilities of Kirk throwing to LaQuan vs Teddy,Sam and Case throwing to Josh , blah blah blah)over Tread. However, once they don purple , I support the decisions of the brass as long as I can.I really like Treadwell’s blocking down field. The problem for me is he was rated a HUGE end zone guy. I agree with you that LaQuan is behind the the 5’10” 28 year old Jarius Wright. I think there is a dead cap of 6 on him. For me, I can trade him and grab a burner.

      • Gordon Guffey

        You could be right on the dead money for Write ~ However he has produced every year when give a chance ~ His run blocking must stink or the coaching staff only uses him when they have too ~ Maybe he is in the dog house over something he did or said ~ ???? If find the whole thing odd ~ I so hope the new OC can get something out of Treadwell ~ A lot of kinds it takes 2 or 3 years for them to come around and the Vikings have their share of those kind of players who finally come around ~ Dont have to look any feather than the last two highly drafted CB ~ Or the underafted FA they held onto that finally came around ~ Easton being once of those players ~

        I trust you Bob T ~ Your seem like a reasonable guy based off your posts ~ So if you say you study the draft I believe you ~ I use to do the same ~ I watch andor recorded every Senior Bowl or the East West game sense the day the VCRDVR came around and would watch it over and over as I waited for the draft ~ Those days are over from me ~ I just go with the flow most of the time ~ And I appreciate it when follow fans share their thoughts with me about players ~ I do go ready up on guys after they are drafted from different sites ~ I dont even watch the while draft anymore ~ I use to watch every round even when the Vikings were drafting late in the rounds ~ Now I do something else until I think its getting close to their time ~ I think when I hit 60 thing changed for me big time ~ But thanks for sharing your thoughts ~ !!!!

        • Bob T.

          Opps I wasn’t very clear. The 6 mil of dead cap, I think I read was on Treadwell. So for me I can trade him and grab a burner.

        • Bob T.

          I still think the O-line needs a lot of work. I would like a G/C with 1st pick in the draft maybe the OT out of Oregon in the 5th for depth. Leave us a 2nd, 3rd for brass to play with. Lots of time for that talk in April.

          • Gordon Guffey

            We think more a like than we dont ~ I agree on the OL ~ I posted some links to some thing over here on the FA list that Collor just put up ~ One of the things is about all teams getting all the info on any player base off of the sensor all player wear on their shoulder pads ~ That new for 2018 ~ Its a shame we want get that about the college kids coming out ~ Here is the link
            http://www.1500espn.com/vikings-2/2018/02/intriguing-players-nfl-coms-cut-candidates-list/
            I think its time they start putting in a much effort in finding talent for the offense as the defense ~ We found out the hard way our defense was wearing down toward to playoffs because the offense was sputtering ~ And it wasn’t just Case ~ Our skill players ((( going back and rewatching some tough wins and some easy wins also ))) were having their own problems getting open ~ We need that #3 WR who puts fear in a defense ~ Wright who I love as the #4 WR nor Floyd or Treadwell were doing that and they just doubled the other WR and TE in a soft cover of some kind ~ The Eagles pulled it off well on our skill players ~ Its not like Case was missing wide open WR running deep down the field ~

            OL isa must no matter who the QB is and we know they want to fix that first and foremost ~ Not sure how that will play out but there are other ~ I leave that to the guys who have job doing that kind of stuff ~ Spielman~Zimmer and the new OC have a lot riding on who they pick at QB ~

  • Topgunn

    This is an interesting opening list from least likely and getting to most likely later. All are interesting to some degree except Sproles. Not that I don’t like him as a player, it’s a philosophical view. RB is a young man’s position. Young players are cheaper. Just draft a RB in rounds 4-7 and be specific about what skills you’re looking for in that player. This way we’ll have plenty of $$$ left for Cousins.

  • Andre Esters

    OG Z.Fulton
    Coming from a solid team, great measurables, top notch need instead of depending on the draft. Familiarity with playing center helps a lot too if Eflien doesn’t fully heal.

    DT B.Logan
    Another solid team need coming from a squad who will miss his huge presence. With 2 run stuffers in the middle, maybe that frees up LB’s and DE’s for getting the those speedy sacks.

    DB D.Butler
    Not a 100% for this one, but added depth from a veteran player is always a welcomed addition over a rookie getting burned like T.Waynes and M.Alexander.

    WR T.Gabriel
    I can see the new OC DeFilipo enjoying a versatile weapon like him, just wish he was a larger force to reckon with. Just because the Treadwell investment didn’t pan out, I’m not interested in small WR’s

    RB D.Sproles
    Always loved this dude, another legacy legend like L.Fitzgerald or F.Gore. Seeing him in purple would be cool, but rather not disrespect him with sparse playing time or low ball contract.

  • Cman

    I personally think we need to pass on bringing Newman back. I saw quite a few times where he got just plain beat in the slot this year and think age is catching up to him. I think we need to go younger, and quicker at the slot CB position, if Alexander is not expected to take the job.





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