I enjoy Pete Prisco on Twitter. He’s witty and smart and likes mixing it up with other writers. And he seems to have a great football mind which is why I immediately clicked the link to his list of the top 50 free agents. A few of the guys Prisco lists should be of interest to the Vikings, who will have some money to play with this year. Here are six guys I plucked from Prisco’s run down who could be targets for Minnesota:
7. Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers
Prisco says, “The Chargers want him back, but at what cost? The indication is that the team won’t tag him.” Bidding figures to be fierce on Jackson one way or another. This means if the Vikings want him they’ll have to pay big. Normally I’d shy away but I think the receiver situation is enough of a mess that, if you’re going to overpay, this would be the spot for it. Then again, there do figure to be some lower-cost options farther down the list. I do think the Vikings will at least put in a bid on Jackson. Get the table ready at Manny’s.
8. Brent Grimes, CB, Atlanta Falcons
Prisco: “He is a feisty corner who can play man or zone. He is small, but he has great athletic ability. The Falcons missed him late when he was injured.” Sound like anyone we know? Antoine Winfield? I had my eye on Grimes last off-season before he signed a one-year deal to stay in Atlanta. He’s 29 so age isn’t a huge issue. Health is something you have to think about after his injury last season. The Falcons could franchise tag him but if they don’t he should be on the Vikings’ radar screen in a big way.
9. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Prisco: “The Chiefs want him back in the worst way, but at what price? He is their top target in the passing game, but do they tag him?” If you’re a big receiver who can line up outside, run down the field fast and catch passes, the Vikings are interested in you. Bowe isn’t Calvin Johnson but he’s the next thing to it. Nothing would help Christian Ponder’s progress more than having a guy like this on the team. Again, cost becomes a factor. Lots of money will be thrown at receivers this off-season.
17. Tyvon Branch, S, Oakland Raiders
Prisco: “Branch led the Raiders in tackles and should have been in the Pro Bowl. He has improved in coverage as well. He turns 26 in December.” The Vikings’ safety corps was so dreadful in 2011 that just about anything would be an upgrade. This guy would be a major upgrade. He’s not exactly the ball-hawking type many people are looking for but I frankly don’t think the Vikings care about that. Alan Williams won’t be overhauling the defense; they’ll still be a bend-but-don’t-break team that doesn’t force a ton of turnovers. Branch fits that philosophy perfectly.
37. Stephen Tulloch, MLB, Detroit Lions
Prisco: “On a one-year deal, he had 111 tackles and two picks for the Lions. He just turned 27, so age isn’t an issue. He’s a steady player.” Viking fans will remember him as the guy who crushed Christian Ponder after an interception. Would he represent a big upgrade over the (probably) out-going E.J. Henderson? Maybe not. But Tulloch does have one advantage over E.J.: both his knees work. The Vikings are in a beggers-can’t-be-choosers situation with MLB. There aren’t any great options out there. Tulloch might be the best of a thin field.
45. Robert Meachem, WR, New Orleans Saints
Prisco: “He’s never caught more than 45 passes in a season but has the speed teams love. He does have 20 touchdown catches in the past three seasons.” Speed is the key thing with Meachem. And he won’t be as expensive as V-Jax or D-Bowe. I could easily see the Vikings passing on those more-pricey options and giving a nice-but-reasonable deal to Meachem. His production thus far doesn’t exactly scream #1 receiver to me but, we’ll see. He’s better than Devin Aromashodu, at least.