The land of ten thousand lakes has wasted no time on making their presence known in the free agent market, but have been even more active in re-signing their own free agents. The Minnesota Vikings just today announced the re signing of defensive end, Everson Griffen, to a gigantic deal; making him one of the top paid defensive ends in the league. Minnesota also wasted no name bringing back veteran quarterback, Matt Cassel, on a two-year deal. The purple and gold have always been good about keeping their homegrown talent in Minny and nothing has changed under the direction of new head coach, Mike Zimmer. The Vikings still have many mysteries to solve in the defensive secondary, as they were historically one of the worst ever in the league, and in franchise history. With numerous players potentially leaving the Vikes, and many quality defensive backs in the free agency pool; the NFL Draft Daily predicts that the Vikings still have a way to go from being done with signing players. Lets review some of the potential candidates that have been linked to Minnesota.
As stated in the paragraph above, Minnesota’s pass defense was absolutely dreadful. The Vikings ranked dead last in points allowed, and 31st in passing defense; which is completely unacceptable in a division the holds marque quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Mathew Stafford. The pass rush was inconsistent, linebackers had issues covering the running backs and tight ends off the line; and the secondary was decimated by key injuries and just could not hold their coverage long enough. With their longest tenured defensive back, Chris Cook, possibly leaving; the Vikings could look to add a proven, experienced corner to pair along with last years rookie, Xavier Rhodes. One name that has already been linked to Minnesota since Zimmer hired his defensive staff, is Alterraun Verner. Yesterday reports indicated that the Vikings have already contacted the pro bowl corner during the allowed tampering time; and are considered to be one of the more aggressive teams in the market to sign him. In four years with the Tennessee Titans, Verner has racked up 11 interceptions with two forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. The corner was elected to his first pro bowl in 2013 and is considered the top corner in free agency not named Aqib Talib.
The Vikings decided to bring back veteran Matt Cassel with a two-year, ten million dollar contract to help bridge the gap for a potential quarterback they may pick in the draft. The huge deal for Griffen may prove that Jared Allen’s days wearing the purple and gold may be over, saddening many of the Vikings faithful as Allen has been one of the more popular players on the team for years. Another popular player who may be in question is veteran outside linebacker, Chad Greenway. Greenway had an up and down season last year, fighting off a broken hand and age that may be catching up with him. He is due to receive eight million dollars from the Vikings this year, and the front office may look to restructure his deal or inconceivably, cut him. It will be interesting to see what Minnesota does with their new big money man in Griffen. At different times they have used the athletic defensive end as a linebacker, and have also lined him up at defensive tackle on the nickel defense; creating more of a pass rush. The Vikings may option to move him to the strong side linebacker position Greenway plays, or make him the full-time starter at the right defensive end, Jared Allen’s old position. In other news Minnesota has also announced a one year deal for middle linebacker, Jasper Brinkley; who spent one year with the Arizona Cardinals after leaving Minnesota in free agency the year before.
Other positions of interest for the Vikings are the guard positions with starter Charlie Johnson possibly not returning, and also the defensive nose tackle position. Free agent Michael Johnson has been rumored to be in contact with the Vikes, but with the re signing of Griffen, it may be very unlikely that will happen. Some players that may fit their key positions to fill may be free agents like Linval Joseph, who could fill the nose tackle position next to Sharif Floyd; or possibly a Henry Melton, who is coming off an ACL injury. Viking fans may also not be surprised if they bring a few more players of their own back to the fold. Veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams says he would like to return; and troubled wide receiver Jerome Simpson may come at a discount with a possible suspension at hand. All things tend to be possible with Rick Spielman running the show for the Vikings, and things do not seem to be slowing down as the NFL Draft Daily continues its everyday coverage on the league. Minnesota has shown to be potential big buyer in the market, and with only two days left until free agency; expect to hear much more about the Vikings in the foreseeable future.
NFL Draft Daily is a daily series which provides analysis, insight, and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman