Yesterday, purplePTSD.com writer AJ Mansour penned a piece to kick off the free agency period for the Vikings, titled “Prepare for the Vikings to come Out Swinging When Free Agency Opens… Or Else” and while there were some moves made yesterday by the Vikings brass, I will say that unless there is some sort of drastic change, the “Or else” may end up being the case, as really after attempting to make a decent move or two, we’re essentially at the point where we replaced Matt Kalil with a ‘tweener left tackle and are in the running for a back-up quarterback, while also now needing to draft or find another punter, after day one? Yeeeesh.
So, my goal with this piece is to get you all caught up on the moves, or attempted moves, that happened on Day One of free agency, so you can chime in at the office this morning when people start asking… “What is Spielman doing?!”
For most of the off-season it appeared that the Vikings were going to be married to 2012 first round draft pick Matt Kalil for the foreseeable future. Articles here and on other resources pretty much treated his status as a Viking in 2017 as a foregone conclusion. So, when it was announced that he was signing with his brother’s team, the Carolina Panthers, it got Vikings fans excited for a future at left tackle that didn’t have to be mediocre at best.
Unfortunately, though, for any number of reasons the Vikings didn’t end up with the marquee left tackle in free agency as a replacement, Andrew Whitworth. He ended up on the Los Angeles Rams, for what has been reported as only $15 million dollars guaranteed for the 35 year old former All-Pro. The Vikings also were apparently outbid for another left tackle that they had shown some interest in this week in Russell Okung (Who I’ve made no secret about my affinity for), who ended up getting signed by the Los Angeles Chargers. So, what did the Vikings do?
Well. As the titled of this section spoiled, they ended up snagging Riley Reiff of the Detroit Lions. Reiff may not be the barn burner that some people expected, especially as the Vikings had around $40 million in cap space to play with, but he’s a definite upgrade over Matt Kalil and really (At least according to some rankings I’ve found) Russell Okung as well. The problem is that Reiff is kind of a ‘Tweener, having played both left guard and left tackle. His natural position seems to be more of a guard, so we will have to wait to see how this move pans out. It would’ve been nice to bring in someone like Reiff alongside an Okung, but, I guess beggars can’t be choosers and that’s what the Vikings are when it comes to free agency, beggars.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at (Attempted) Move Number Two…
Now, I’ve also made it pretty clear that I love skill positions more than other positions in football, when it comes to the draft or free agency. While I understand that you need to draft lineman and defensive players, they just aren’t as “Flashy” or “Exciting” to me as signing a player like Randy Moss or Adrian Peterson can be. That’s because I’ve been spoiled as a Vikings fan that was born in 1984, having two of the top three wide receivers of all time on our roster in Moss and Cris Carter and probably the best pure running back of all time in Adrian Peterson, as well.
Despite that, though, I wasn’t expecting the Vikings to really make any moves for a wide receiver this free agency period. Not because I didn’t want them to, or because I didn’t think they needed another receiver (Or especially a receiver like Alshon Jeffery), but because it just didn’t seem like a practical move when they’re looking to rebuild their offensive line while looking for a replacement for Adrian Peterson. So, imagine my surprise and immediate excitement in the five minutes between hearing about the Vikings making a last minute push to sign Alshon Jeffery and then hearing that he had signed a crappier deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The report is that Jeffery turned down a contract for more money and more years for a one-year, $14 million dollar deal with the Eagles because he figures he can lock down even more guaranteed money in next year’s free agency period. That’s a risky bet for a player who already had a bad year while franchised (2016), but that’s probably why he did it. To make up for what he felt like he lost last season, in a year where he was injured a lot (Even for him), suspended for four games for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy and under-performed even when on the field (While still putting up 821 yards, he did struggle to find the end zone).
So, this move will need to be delved into more deeply when free agency is over and we know whether or not the Vikings end up going after another top end receiver (Terrelle Pryor, please!), but if anything it’s an admission that the Vikings made the wrong move in drafting Laquon Treadwell. I mean, who drafts a wide receiver with their first pick and then makes a move for a receiver with a similar body type the following free agency period? Sure, Treadwell isn’t as fast or as capable of going after jump balls (At least in regards to his vertical) as Jeffery, but still. It also shows that the Vikings realize that they do need more weapons on offense, especially with Adrian Peterson gone… Unless…
… Maybe Adrian Peterson Will Be Back After All! Still, Vikings Talking with Eddie Lacy
According to some reports out there, there hasn’t been a lot of interest from other teams for the services of Adrian Peterson. While that may sound surprising to some, it really isn’t when you look at Peterson on paper. Peterson is beyond is prime, hasn’t played in two of the past three seasons and really is limited in regards to what he can contribute on the field. Sure, what he does contribute is amazing (Strictly as a down hill runner), but he can’t block/pick up blitzes or really catch balls out of the backfield.
So that means that there really aren’t going to be that many teams interested in giving a 32 year old running back the ball 20-25 times a game simply because not many teams give a running back the ball that many times to begin with. That means that there will be less bids and thus less money offered, which all means that Peterson could end up back in Minnesota. However, as this and every free agency period (Ever) has shown, there are no sure things out there. So, the Vikings are reportedly meeting with former Packers running back Eddie “Feast Mode” Lacy “today”.
Vikings taking a look at Eddie Lacy https://t.co/vGeZ3FfSjd
— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingESPN) March 9, 2017
To be honest, if it were to come down to either bringing Peterson back or Eddie Lacy, I’d take AD… All Day (Pun?). Some of that comes from my desire to see what Sam Bradford could do with Peterson in the backfield, but it’s also because Eddie Lacy just isn’t that good. He strikes me as a lazy (As lazy as a pro-running back could be) guy with injury problems, essentially the running back version of Andre Smith.
Extras… Rhett Ellison and Jeff Locke Sign Elseswhere, Vikings Interested in Nick Foles?
Looks like the Vikings need to draft another Punter. Ugh. So, the Vikings are going into April’s draft without a first round draft pick and now they will also need to snag a punter somewhere in the later rounds, which could really be a net positive as Locke was never the greatest punter in the world. Really, they should just give Chris Kluwe a call. Sure, special teams coach Mike Preifer is still employed by the Vikings, but Kluwe is in his prime (Despite what his appearance on American Ninja Warrior showed) and was probably the best punter in Vikings history. Word is, though, that the Vikings wanted to keep Locke, so it’s looking like we’re getting either outbid or just outworked by other general managers thus far into free agency… Which is, not good…
Speaking of blocking, too, the Vikings will be down one of their better blocking tight end’s with Rhett Ellison signing to the New York Giants at about $4.5m/year. Hopefully the Vikings will need to rely on blocking tight ends a lot less this season, but it’s not really looking like that’ll be the case, thus far. So, because of that and the inevitable injury to Bradford (*Knocks on Teddy’s New Knee*), it also makes sense that the Vikings are interested in QB Nick Foles, someone that they attempted to sign last season as well.
Foles would be a great back-up, considering that beyond Sam Bradford the Vikings don’t really have a lot on roster. Teddy is pretty much a wash for 2017 and Taylor Heinicke, while talented, is probably not the type of guy that can get your team to a .500 record. So, I guess, there’s that. But, if you had told me that after day one (The most important day) of free agency I’d be writing about Riley Reiff and Nick Foles… I would’ve slapped you and called your a Packers fan. So, I’m hoping that today will go better.
We will see.