Who will be the Vikings No. 1 free-agent target during the 2021 offseason?

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Which players will the Minnesota Vikings target when the 2021 free agency period starts in March?

Free agency for the Minnesota Vikings and the rest of the NFL will officially begin this year on Wednesday, March 17.

At the moment, the 2021 salary cap will reportedly be at least $180 million, and it could possibly end up being higher once it is officially set. Last season, the salary cap was around $200 million.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Vikings would currently be more than $9 million over the cap if it were set at $180 million this year. Again, this would change if the cap is set at a higher number.

Who will be the top target in free agency for the Minnesota Vikings?

This offseason, Minnesota has needs at offensive line, defensive line, safety, cornerback, and wide receiver.

It’s very unlikely the Vikings will be able to address all of their needs in free agency since they don’t have loads and loads of cap space. Luckily for Minnesota, they already have a good amount of selections in the 2021 NFL Draft to help fill their roster.

During the 2020 season, the Vikings’ offense ranked fourth in total yards, and 11th in points scored. Once again, however, Minnesota’s offensive line struggled.

Whether they decide to move on from Riley Reiff and switch Ezra Cleveland over to left tackle or not, the Vikings should still add a veteran guard or two in free agency this year.

Reiff had an excellent year in 2020, but releasing him would save the team almost $12 million in cap space. Cleveland played well at right guard this past season, despite it not being his natural position.

In a perfect world, Minnesota would be able to sign free-agent guards Joe Thuney or Brandon Scherff this year. This isn’t very likely, but they can add cheaper veteran guards and possibly draft one too.

Some other free-agent guards available this offseason are Nick Easton, Lane Taylor, and Jon Feliciano. Easton was recently released by the New Orleans Saints and he played for the Vikings from 2016 to 2018. He could be a cheap option for Minnesota at left guard if they cannot find anyone better.

Whatever guards the Vikings target in free agency, they certainly need at least one. Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins has done a great job staying healthy. But how many more hits can he take? The Vikings’ offense would also be much better even if the offensive line is just average.

Since 2014, Minnesota’s offensive line has been pretty poor every season, except for the 2017 campaign. It’s tough to imagine Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer, and the rest of the Vikings’ decision-makers not making this position group their main focus in free agency this year.