Could the solution to the issue at left guard be Buccaneers lineman Davin Joseph?
Joseph is certainly available. Jason La Canfora reports that Tampa Bay is attempting to trade Joseph, according to several teams who have been in contact with the Buccaneers.
It’s unlikely that Tampa will be able to swing a trade for Joseph, who is perceived as damaged goods, meaning they will have to cut him to unload his $6 million salary for 2014.
Buccaneers fans scoff at the idea that anyone would be dumb enough to pick up Joseph, who graded out as one of the lowest-rated guards in all football last year, but he wasn’t always so lowly regarded.
A first round pick in 2006, Joseph lived up to his early promise by making a pair of Pro Bowls, in 2008 and 2011. His career was derailed in 2012 by a fluke preseason patella tendon tear, and there are many who believe the lingering effects of that injury were responsible for his poor performance in 2013.
Does the Joseph situation sound familiar yet? To me, it sounds a lot like what happened with Geoff Schwartz.
Schwartz was never a Pro Bowler nor was he ever given a hefty contract like Joseph, but he did seem like an ascending player before his own career was thrown off course by injury. Carolina gave up on him, but Rick Spielman saw the chance to score a veteran lineman for cheap, and he swooped in.
Schwartz was thrown into the mix at right guard in 2012 along with late-round draft pick Brandon Fusco. At the time, Fusco was seen as a project, and Schwartz was there to provide insurance and to give Fusco a little motivation.
Fusco eventually claimed the job and Schwartz was allowed to walk. Schwartz had a nice year in Kansas City, but Fusco was solid too and the Vikings certainly did not regret the decision to keep him.
You can see what I’m driving at. The Vikings have no obvious veteran option at left guard, but they do have 2013 draft pick Jeff Baca. Like Fusco, Baca was a late-round pick viewed as a project.
Rick Spielman may wish to take the same approach with Baca that he did with Fusco. Pencil Baca in as the starter at left guard, but back him up with a low-cost veteran as insurance.
Davin Joseph, when he is inevitably cut by Tampa Bay, will become a low-cost veteran option. And a similar option to Geoff Schwartz who was coming back from an injury when the Vikings signed him.
Joseph won’t be the only veteran guard out there for the Vikings to look at, but he certainly will be one of the more intriguing ones given his past Pro Bowl-level performances.
As a cheap Schwartz-type backup/insurance player, I don’t think Joseph would be a terrible signing, assuming his knee is sound.
Update: Joseph was cut while I was typing up this post. Everything I said was based on the assumption that this would happen, so nothing need be adjusted.