The Vikings are unlikely to be super-aggressive in targeting big-name free agents this year, but it’s certain they will go after some mid-level players who could help fill holes in the roster (at least until younger players are able to grow into those positions).
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So forget about players like Devin McCourty and Byron Maxwell. Here are five guys I think the Vikings could realistically target in the coming days:
1. Clint Boling
If there’s one position that’s almost certain to be addressed in free agency it’s left guard. The Vikings will not go into the season with David Yankey as their only option, and I don’t see them using a high draft pick to fill the need. Fans will clamor for Mike Iupati but he’s a poor pass protector and will likely cost too much anyway. Go with Boling, a solid run blocker who at 26 could end up being your solution at left guard for the long-term as well as the short.
2. Davon House
Cornerback is another need position the Vikings could seek to fill through free agency. House has nice size and is a strong outside corner who can get good jams at the line (unlike pint-sized, physically overwhelmed Josh Robinson). He could grow into a solid player under Mike Zimmer’s guidance. Yeah, he’s another ex-Packer. We like those.
3. Cecil Shorts
Free agent wide receiver options fall off the table once you get past the top 5. Torrey Smith would be the best option if you’re looking for a deep threat but I think the bidding on Smith will get a little too hot for Rick Spielman’s tastes. Shorts would represent a good cheaper far-from-ideal alternative if the team wishes to add receiver talent.
4. Brandon Spikes
Spikes would be an upgrade from Jasper Brinkley as a run stopping Mike. I’m not sure about his every-down potential but with players like Gerald Hodges and Audie Cole in the mix, I think you’ve got nickel linebacker covered anyway.
5. Mark Ingram
I don’t know what’s going to happen with Adrian Peterson, but if it turns out that Peterson has to move on, then Ingram might be the best free agent option at running back. He’s 25 and you could probably squeeze three or four good years out of him without having to pay him Peterson-level money.
Not a lot of exciting names on that list I realize, but that’s sort of the point. The exciting names will be flying off the board as other teams with tons of cap space and little-to-no long-term plan throw money around. Meanwhile, I believe the Vikings will sit back and let things fall to them as Rick Spielman has promised. I realize he’s lied about that in the past but this year I think he’s telling the truth.
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