The Vikings regressed in 2016 after winning the North in 2015. Minnesota had major protection and run game issues on offense and lacked a true number 1 weapon. Let’s see how the Vikings and GM Rick Spielman addressed these issues in free agency.
Tackle Exchange Program
The Vikings let Matt Kalil and Andre Smith hit free agency after an injury plagued and ineffective 2016 season at left and right tackle. Kalil got 11 million per season with some team options in Carolina. Andre Smith returned to the Bengals on a one year deal.
Minnesota replaced those players with Riley Reiff on a huge five year 58.75 million dollar deal. Reiff will get another crack at left tackle after being moved to right tackle by the Lions in his fifth year. Reiff was a solid left tackle in the past and should upgrade over Kalil and Kalil’s injury replacements in 2016.
Mike Remmers was added to play right tackle on a five year 30 million dollar deal. Remmers has plenty of starting experience with the Carolina Panthers and can play left tackle in a pinch. The Vikings added experience and solid players to fix their tackle problem. However, both players could have some pass protection issues against really good defensive ends and rushing linebackers.
All Day is Over! Time to Switch-it Up in Minnesota
The Adrian Peterson era is finally over in Minnesota. Adrian Peterson was cut this offseason clearing 18 million in cap space. The Vikings, in turn, signed running back Latavius Murray to a 3 year 15 million dollar option. It really is a one year deal with team options to continue in year 2 and year 3.
Peterson still remains on the market. We’ll see what team takes a chance on the oft injured yet talented 31 year old running back. Murray and McKinnon should be a solid RB tandem for the Vikings.
The Vikings lost some players in free agency. Kalil and Smith were allowed to walk in free agency along with Jake Long. The Vikings cut starting right guard Brandon Fusco to save over 3 million in cap room. Rhett Ellison got a 4 year 18 million dollar deal to be the Giants new blocking tight end. Wide Receiver Charles Johnson and slot CB Captain Munnerlyn both left the Vikings for the Carolina Panthers. Johnson was the Vikings 4th WR and Munnerlyn will be replaced by second round pick Mackensie Alexander.
Kick returner and first round WR bust Cordarelle Patterson joined the Oakland Raiders on a two year deal. Punter Jeff Locke signed with the Colts on a two year deal. Audie Cole agreed to a deal with Jacksonville and lives the Vikings a void at backup ILB.
Finally, Chad Greenway retired creating a hole at weak side linebacker for the Vikings.
Terrence Newman was brought back a one year 3.75 million dollar deal. Newman is 38 but had a good 2016 season at CB for the Vikings. Newman will compete with former 1st round pick Trae Waynes for playing time again at the second CB spot. Guard/tackle Jeremiah Sirles was brought back on a cheap one year deal and Sirles could compete at the wide open right guard spot.
Wide Receiver Adam Thielen upped his second year restricted tender into a 4 year 19.246 million dollar deal. Thielen had a good year for the Vikings out of nowhere in 2016. He should be a weapon for Sam Bradford for 2017.
Defensive End Brian Robison restructured his deal and added a year to save 1.6 million in cap space. Robison keeps the Vikings defensive line in-tact.
Stealing from Green Bay
Datone Jones signed a one year 3.75 million dollar deal to play DE for the Vikings. Jones should fit nicely in a strong DE rotation for Minnesota.
Vikings Moving Forward
Minnesota has 15.4 million in cap space per the top 51 rule. The Vikings don’t have a first round pick due to the Sam Bradford trade from last August. The Vikings have pick 48, 79, 86, 120,128, 160, 199 and 232 in this draft. They may lack a 1st round pick but GM Rick Spielman has one second rounder, two 3rds and two 4th round picks at his disposal to try and find talent for the future and fill needs.
The Vikings need a number 1 WR, weak side linebacker and right guard. Minnesota could look to extend Xavier Rhodes, Shariff Floyd (DT), Tom Johnson (DT) and Jerrick McKinnon(RB) before they hit free agency next year. The Vikings will probably give Anthony Barr the fifth year option for 2018 but could extend him as well. Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater could both be free agents next offseason as well. The fifth year option is available for Bridgewater for 2018. Rick Spielman may want to see how both QBs play and recover from injury(Bridgewater) before he gives them a long term deal.