Laying out the top ways for the Vikings to improve themselves this off-season, so maybe next year, instead of making it to the brink of the Super Bowl, they can actually, you know, make the Super Bowl…
So what exactly do I mean by “upgrade the offensive line?” Getting rid of that giant nitwit Bryant McKinnie would be a start, but unfortunately, there are problems with that. For one thing, there’s McKinnie’s contract, which would mean a large cap hit if we tried to dump him on someone. And for another thing, if you do somehow manage to get rid of him, who do you replace him with? Phil Loadholt would be the obvious guy, but you still don’t know if Loadholt is left tackle material, plus that leaves you with a big hole at right tackle again. Much as I would love to see McKinnie gone, it’s really not practical.
In reality, center and right guard are the two places where you could get better. John Sullivan did nothing this year to prove that he is the long-term answer at center, and Anthony Herrera is Anthony Herrera, in other words, serviceable. The only unrestricted free agent who looks the least bit attractive at either position is Bobbie Williams of the Bengals, who is regarded as a top-notch run blocker…just what the Vikings need to help improve Adrian Peterson‘s stats. The problems with Williams are that he’s a tad old at 33 and you would probably have to overpay to get him. Logan Mankins is younger and may be just now rounding into top form, but he is a restricted free agent, and the Patriots will probably lock him up before he ever becomes available. Kevin Mawae is the most attractive option at center but he is incredibly old, and if you weren’t willing to re-sign Matt Birk at his age, you certainly wouldn’t be willing to bring in Mawae even if it was only for one season.
Perhaps the best fix for the Vikings O-Line would just be a good healing off-season for Steve Hutchinson and another year of hard work and improvement by Loadholt. And maybe there’s someone on the roster, like Jon Cooper, who could step up in training camp and take over one of those shaky positions. And of course there’s the draft, which yielded Loadholt last year, and could offer up another option or two. All I know for sure is, if Brett Favre does come back next year, he’ll need better protection than what he got against the Saints, or he will end up being scraped off the turf like a turd.