Nov 11, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Jamarca Sanford (33) celebrates his forced fumble against the Detroit Lions that was recovered by the Vikings in the fourth quarter at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agency: Vikings' Five Best Moves So Far

We’re a couple days into the free agency process and so far the Vikings have not been major players at least in terms of pursuing new talent. Obviously Rick Spielman’s plan is to let the market settle and see what bargains he can pick up. That’s their approach and, like it or not, they’re sticking to it.

While the Vikes haven’t been aggressive so far in going after big name free agents, they have been very active in other ways. Namely making trades and retaining their own free agents. Here are the top five moves so far, counted down from five to one.

5. Keeping Jamarca Sanford

Sanford began 2012 behind Mistral Raymond on the depth chart. But an injury to Raymond gave Sanford a chance to play and he made the most of it. He showed definite improvement during the course of the year. By season’s end he had four forced fumbles on his stat sheet and had solidified his reputation as a good special teams player.

4. Letting Jasper Brinkley test the market

The Vikes moved fairly quickly to re-sign Jamarca Sanford and Erin Henderson. But they did not move quickly to retain Jasper Brinkley and I think that is a telling fact. Brinkley did not distinguish himself in 2012 after being installed as the starting middle linebacker. He showed decent run defense skills but in pass coverage he was abyssmal, often blowing assignments. If Brinkley can score a deal from another team, so be it. The Vikes were right to let him test the market. They can do better than this guy.

3. Keeping Jerome Felton

This was a no-brainer. Felton was a huge part of Adrian Peterson’s success last year. Even Peterson, who once hated the idea of running behind a fullback, had to admit it. The Vikes locked Felton up for three yeras and that will help keep Peterson happy and productive. It’s all about AD at this point for the Vikings.

2. Keeping Phil Loadholt

Loadholt got an offer from the Bears but reportedly took less money to stay in Minnesota. But “less money” doesn’t mean he got stiffed. He still received a healthy long-term contract. It was important for the Vikes to keep continuity on the line and they did that by retaining Loadholt. This was another move they really had to make.

1. Getting three picks for Percy Harvin

We can argue till we’re blue in the face over whether the Vikings “had” to trade Percy Harvin. But the fact is, they did trade him. Most believed the Vikes would score no more than a second rounder for the receiver, but Rick Spielman got a first, a seventh and a 2014 third for him. A huge haul by any measure. Yes Harvin is gone, leaving a giant hole in the offense. But getting three picks for him was huge. Spielman, who loves playing the draft day game, now has tons of picks to work with. He has tons of maneuverability. He can swing deals and make things happen on draft day. That’s what he wants. That’s what he believes is best for the team. He made it happen and kudos to him.

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