Dec 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Phil Loadholt (71) celebrates a touchdown in front of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) during the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium. The Vikings won 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

No Franchise Tag For Phil Loadholt

We wondered if the Vikings would use the franchise tag to protect Phil Loadholt. But Loadholt’s number would’ve been pretty big – $9.28 million or thereabouts – and it was probably prudent for them to avoid tagging him. That’s a lot of dough for a right tackle who isn’t Pro Bowl.

So Loadholt hits the market. Can the Vikings work out a deal with their 2009 second round pick? I believe they will. They want him back. And I can’t see Loadholt scoring more money on the open market than the Vikings are willing to pay. He’s a decent player but not a great player. If he were a better pass protector you might worry.

Now we wait for the opening of free agency to see if Loadholt and the other nine Vikings UFAs will be back. Loadholt and Jerome Felton have to be considered the top priorities. I believe the Vikes will also bring back Jamarca Sanford. Devin Aromashodu and Jerome Simpson are definite nos. Erin Henderson, Jasper Brinkley, Marvin Mitchell, Joe Berger and Geoff Schwartz are maybes.

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