Predicting Minnesota Vikings’ 5 Biggest Free Agency Moves
Predicting Vikings' 5 Biggest Free Agency Moves
The 2014 offseason is barely underway, but the Minnesota Vikings have already made a few key moves to improve the organization. They first parted ways with Leslie Frazier in favor of the defensive-minded Mike Zimmer and even cut troubled linebacker Erin Henderson because of numerous DWI arrests.
With the coaching staff in place, the focus will now turn to the free agency period and the draft. Expect the Vikings to re-sign a few of their lesser known pending free agents such as Marcus Sherels and Desmond Bishop, but with a new coach and a dismal season for the defense, expect big changes to come during the free agent period.
The Vikings have an estimated $29 million in free cap space this offseason, sixth most in the NFL, and with it they should make a few big name signings. The biggest holes on defense lie at cornerback, linebacker and the defensive line, and in the following five slides I will touch on each.
Although they finished with a 5-10-1 record, the Vikings are very close to being a playoff caliber team, and a successful offseason could propel them to contender status. Zimmer is a former defensive coordinator, leading me to believe he’ll focus on rebuilding the defense during the free agency period which is why the following five players are the most likely free agents to be wearing the Viking purple and gold in 2014.
5. Sign Ex-Bengals Linebacker Vincent Rey
Mike Zimmer has been Vincent Rey’s defensive coordinator since he was drafted four years ago, and now that he’s looking to sign his second NFL contract expect Zimmer to go after his former player. Rey played only 348 snaps last season, but he showed he was more than competent in pass coverage and could serve as either the Vikings’ middle or strong-side linebacker next season, both of which are positions of need.
4. Re-Sign Matt Cassel To Be 2014 Starter
Matt Cassel voided his 2014 option for $3.7 million earlier this offseason, but the demand for a 31-year-old quarterback who’s past his prime is never high in the NFL. Many of the teams looking for a quarterback this offseason will fill that need through the draft, and with the Vikings likely missing out on the top three quarterback prospects it’s likely they work out a deal with Cassel to return and start for the foreseeable future. This team looked its best with Cassel under center in 2013, and with an improved defense they would be a contender with him under center in 2014.
3. Sign Run-Stopping Defensive Tackle Tony McDaniel
Tony McDaniel played a huge role in stopping the run for the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, and with the Seahawks already up against the cap it’s unlikely they will be able to sign the 6-foot-7 monster. The Vikings were terrible against the run last season, and with Kevin Williams a pending free agent they must find someone to replace him in the middle. The defensive tackle class this year is a deep one, and although the Vikings have plenty of cap space, McDaniel is someone they could likely get on the cheap like the Seahawks did last year.
2. Re-Sign Everson Griffen To Replace Jared Allen
Everson Griffen is truly one of the most underrated defensive ends in the entire NFL. He’s been stuck behind Jared Allen and Brian Robison most of his career, but with Allen on the way out the Vikings will likely sign Griffen to replace him on the right side of the defensive line. Griffen was second on the Vikings with 39 quarterback hurries last season and outperformed Allen despite playing nearly 400 fewer snaps. Although not seen as a complete player, Griffen has shown flashes of greatness in his career and could turn into one of the league's premier pass rushers under Mike Zimmer.
1. Sign Cornerback Alterraun Verner
The Vikings’ secondary was one of the worst in the league last season and allowed opponents to pass for 287 yards per game. Injuries played a part, but cornerback is a huge need for the Vikings and something that must be addressed during free agency or early in the draft. The team drafted Xavier Rhodes last season, so it’s unlikely they will go into the 2014 season with two young cornerbacks starting on the outside. Instead it’s more likely they go after someone in free agency, and with Alterraun Verner being the hot name from Tennessee its likely the Vikings will be pushing hard for his services.