1 Vikings Veteran Who Can Leapfrog a Current Starter

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings
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During the offseason, much has been made of the team’s continuity along the offensive line. These conversations can sometimes overlook an important Vikings veteran, though.

The front five is a spot where working harmoniously with one’s blocking buddy through clear communication is a necessity, especially when facing a defense with creative blitzes (as we all hope to see from Mr. Flores with the Vikings defense). While the continuity is notable, there’s a position that has some notable competition: right guard.

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) defends against Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Vernon Butler (94) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore Ed Ingram is inspiring some optimism. Jumping from college football to the NFL is no small feat, especially when someone has to change their feet (sorry, couldn’t help myself). The college LG flipped over to RG, meaning his footwork was different. Might a full offseason to get his body right and further acclimated to the right side help?

During his initial draft as the GM, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah sank the 59th selection into Ingram. Clearly, the team thinks highly of the interior offensive lineman. However, the GM made another notable move during the same offseason: signing Chris Reed.

Nearing his 31st birthday, Reed has been in the NFL for a little while. He entered the NFL in 2015 as an UDFA, playing for five different teams in his time. Joining the Vikings represented a homecoming for the guard since he went to college at Minnesota State.

Vikings Get More Salary Cap Relief
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Chris Reed (62) performs a drill during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Per PFF, Ingram was responsible for allowing 11 sacks, 18 QB hits, and 58 pressures. He tacked on 4 penalties, as well. Not excellent, folks. To his credit, he was super durable, playing a whopping 1168 snaps in a year when the rookies made next to no impact.

Meanwhile, Reed had 124 snaps, all of which came at center since the team was down both Garrett Bradbury and Austin Schlottmann. All things considered, the veteran did well, but he did allow a hit and a pair of pressures (alongside a couple penalties). Reed’s status as the emergency center makes him valuable to the team, though it’s safe to say that his main responsibility is to fortify the guard positions.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball while being tackled by New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) as a penalty flag is thrown during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Kirk Cousins got walloped. He was sacked 46 times, a number that must decrease in the upcoming season (which is to say nothing of QB hits and pressures more broadly). Bringing back an identical offensive line is only productive insofar as it leads to superior play.

Ed Ingram will need to re-earn his spot in the starting lineup. Yes, there is hope for improvement, but that still needs to be proven. Chris Reed is an established veteran who has impressed at various spots across the NFL. There’s value in a scrappy vet who has seen it all, especially at a rugged spot like guard.

To stick around Minnesota, Reed agreed to shrink his salary during the offseason by $1 million. Reed, quite evidently, wants to stick around town. And, to be sure, the team wants him to remain. A cut wouldn’t have been at all shocking given that he’s a depth player. Instead, both sides found a middle ground.

He’ll carry a $1.75 million cap charge into the season.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.