Apr 26, 2012; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman addresses the media as he introduces the 2013 1st round draft picks at a press conference at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings Free Agency Review


 

With some of the last few higher profile free agents signing in the last couple of days, NFL free agency is probably headed for stagnancy in the coming weeks, as teams focus their attention to younger and cheaper players entering the NFL Draft.

Now that the major waves of free agency are over with, how does the Vikings free agent class of 2014 look?

For a complete list and breakdown of every Vikings signing this offseason, as well as what needs the team still has, check below. Signings are listed by whether the incoming player will step in as a starter, likely be competing for a starting job, or will simply provide depth for the team.

Note: All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac.com, except for Vladimir Duccasse’s contract, which was provided by overthecap.com.

Starters:

Everson Griffen, DE – 5 years, $42.5 million

Linval Joseph, DT – 5 years, $31.5 million

Captain Munnerlyn – 3 years, $11.25 million

Griffen was the team’s biggest signing of the offseason, and now it’s up to him to show he can live up to all that money and an expanded role in the defense. Joseph is a massive, run-stuffing tackle who fills a huge (pun intended) need for the Vikings as nose tackle. Munnerlyn is already being touted as the successor to Antoine Winfield due to his tackling ability, and should provide stability for one of the league’s worst secondaries in 2013.

Starters (For Now):

Matt Cassel, QB – 2 years, $10.5 million

Charlie Johnson, OG – 2 years, $5 million

Cassel was an adequate starter for the Vikings in 2013, and he’ll likely enter training camp this year competing with a rookie for the starting job. Johnson received a nice contract that would seem to indicate he’s a starter, but the Vikings have plenty of depth at the position now so he’ll have to prove he’s the man for the job again.

Depth:

Coorey Wootton, DE/DT – 1 year, $1.5 million

Marcus Sherels, CB – 2 years, $2.2 million

Fred Evans, DT – 1 year, $1 million

Jerome Simpson, WR – 1 year, $1 million

Larry Dean, 2 years, $2 million

Tom Johnson, DE/DT – 1 year, $845,000

Jasper Brinkley, LB – 1 year, $830,000

Vlad Ducasse, OG – 1 year, $730,000

Joe Berger, OG/C – 1 year, $635,000

Derek Cox, CB – 1 year, $570,000

Wootton and Evans will still likely see plenty of snaps this season, as Mike Zimmer likes to rotate his defensive lineman. Sherels was one of the best punt returners in the NFL last season, but he is still a defensive liability and his roster spot is by no means secure. Simpson should be a nice fit in Norv Turner’s vertical offense as a third or fourth receiver provided he stays out of trouble off the field. Dean is a special teams player who should not see many snaps on defense. Berger was the team’s swing lineman on the interior last year, but 2013 sixth round pick Jeff Baca will battle him for that job this year. Johnson, Brinkley, Ducassee,  and Cox should all provide veteran competition in training camp and will battle with younger players for roster spots.

Vikings Remaining Top 5 Needs:

QB, CB, LB, FS, RB

The Vikings primary remaining need, as if most people didn’t already know, is at quarterback. While Matt Cassel is a good stopgap option, the team needs a younger signal caller that could possibly lead the franchise into the future. The team has already talked to several of the top prospects at this position in the draft, and will be talking to several more over the coming weeks.

While Captain Munnerlyn should start opposite Xavier Rhodes and then move inside in nickel, the Vikings still need a dependable third corner, especially since they were in nickel packages approximately two-thirds of the time in 2013. This is definitely a position the team could go after early in the draft.

The Vikings could use some more athleticism at linebacker, but it is hard to tell how committed this team is to upgrading this position given the state of their current roster. Chad Greenway had a bad 2013, but he was playing with a broken wrist and had sub-par pieces around him. The team also has three young linebackers in Audie Cole, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges and may want to see what they can do on the field.

While the Vikings have Harrison Smith on their roster, he has performed much better so far in his career in the box than out in coverage. None of the other safeties on the Vikings roster perform well in coverage either, and Smith could use a long term partner on the back end of the Vikings defense. This is a relatively weak free safety class in the draft though, so it would not be surprising if the Vikings passed on taking one.

Adrian Peterson isn’t getting any younger, and the Vikings lost a very valuable backup, Toby Gerhart, in free agency. With Adrian Peterson getting older, the new coaching regime has already stated they want to reduce the amount of hits he takes, which could mean giving another back a few carries each game. Does the team trust in-house options like Matt Asiata or Joe Banyard could turn into a complementary back? Norv Turner could also want to add more of a third-down type back for his system (one that has good pass protection and receiving skills).

After all of their moves, the Vikings still currently are $12 million under the cap, according to Spotrac. The team will likely use around half of that space signing their drafted players. After that the team will likely just hold onto that money to sign some lower tier free agents that are still left on the market or to work on an extension with tight end Kyle Rudolph that could be completed some time during the season.

What do you think about what the Vikings did this offseason? And what positions do they still need to improve? Sound off in the comments or talk to me on Twitter @Goatman102!

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Tags: Captain Munnerlyn Everson Griffen Linval Joseph Matt Cassel Minnesota Vikings

  • David Mallow

    Smith is a FS, SS is what we lack, Sandejo is a great backup to Smith and Blanton should get a shot to start opposite him.. S is not a necessity in the additions to this team. team needs in my opinion…QB,MLB,WR,CB,RB,TE,SS,OLB
    STARTING DEFENSE 2014 IF I WERE GM
    ROBISON,JOSEPH,FLOYD,GRIFFEN
    GREENWAY,MOSLEY,HODGES
    RHODES,FULLER,MUNNERLYN,COX
    SMITH,BUCHANON

    • http://thevikingage.com Ben Gotz

      Smith does have the versatility to be a FS or SS, but until he looks better in coverage I would be more comfortable with them adding a true FS. Sanford isn’t a bad SS, it’s just that he’s not exactly a good one either

  • jim

    Chris clemons would be a great addition a safety. Draft LB or CB with 1st pick unless WR Watkins falls to us. Mettenberger in the 3rd

    • 3kolu

      Clemons signed with Houston.

    • http://thevikingage.com Ben Gotz

      Unfortunately Clemons is now signed, but I still like your draft approach! Mettenberger is a guy that intrigues me a lot, if a team is comfortable with his knee and off the field stuff he has the potential to be a steal

  • 3kolu

    The Viking had a productive free agency. Josh Robinson is more suited on the outside and will be given the chance to compete for a spot in nickel situations. The question is do the current LB crew fit in Zimmer’s scheme. I believe that they are competent and will be improvement from a year ago. We do need a franchise QB, but Cassel will benefit with the new regime. He fits nicely with Norv Turner and he will thrive from taking all the 1st team reps. Adrian Peterson covers over a multitude of sins and Cordarrelle Patterson should bring another element of game breaking ability. Now they can focus their efforts on upgrading CB, Safety, LG and WR. And, there’s an abundance of CB’s and WR’s in the draft.

  • ap2000

    I do not think we need a middle linebacker.jasper,audie and matt are good enough to do that job.outside linebackers to start and provide depth is a must imo.a early pick (first to third round) to play opposite greenway and a later pick to develop as his back-up would make me much happier about this defense.strong safety is sanfords job to lose he causes fumbles at a regular rate.

  • ap2000

    ben what about marcus sherels did I miss him??

    • http://thevikingage.com Ben Gotz

      You did not! That was my bad, I completely forgot about him since he was a restricted free agent instead of unrestricted. I just added him to the post, thanks for catching that!

  • Marc Bigelow

    How does Smith fit best in Zims defense?
    Really would like to get top 4 DB or Pryor in mid first round
    Banking a lot on Cox isn’t wise.

    • http://thevikingage.com Ben Gotz

      I’m sure Zimmer thinks Smith has the versatility to play both FS and SS, but right now Smith has to improve his play in coverage to be able to play both spots. I think there’s no doubt Smith could excel as a downhill, in-the-box safety with Zimmer, as Zimmer loves guys who can come up and tackle and that’s something Smith excels at.

  • Marc Bigelow

    When they get Mettenberger in early third or move up late 2 we will all be happy in the long run.

  • Greg Kaiser

    Players on roster to watch. Mauti, J.Robinson, Baca. Mauti is a 1st round talent who proved his knee issues are behind him. Robinson played out of position all year and Baca will improve in his 2nd season.. the issue is still QB.