The Minnesota Vikings continued the makeover on their offensive line with the (re)-acquisition of free agent tackle Mike Remmers, who has come over from the Carolina Panthers. Together with the signing of former Detroit Lions tackle Riley Reiff, this new look offensive line is costing them a pretty penny—but it was an expense the Vikings had to pay.
Remmers, who is 27 and a five-year veteran, actually had a cup of coffee with the Vikings—in 2013 he was waived by the San Diego Chargers and spent the last month of the season in Minnesota (without getting into a game). But even though the Vikings let him go, Remmers is very happy to be back in Minnesota.
“It feels amazing,’’ Remmers told reporters via conference call. “I’m just so happy and so thankful to be here and to have the opportunity to play football in Minnesota.’’
Remmers actually said that his time spent as a Viking and his familiarity with the organization influenced his decision to return.
“It was a big part of it,’’ Remmers told the Pioneer Press. “I loved the whole organization, the fan base. I have developed a lot more [as a player] since then.’’
Certainly the money had something to do with it, as well. Remmers is set to make $30 million over five years ($10.5 million guaranteed), which is a nice chunk of change for an undrafted player who the Vikings let walk three seasons ago.
Remmers spent his last three seasons with Carolina blocking for a quarterback with a considerably different style (in Cam Newton) from who he will be protecting in Minnesota. Newton is big and strong and mobile, which helps an offensive line, while the Vikings’ Sam Bradford is considerably less mobile and much more of a pocket passer.
The same could be said for other tackle the Vikings signed in Reiff, who has been blocking for another slightly unconventional passer in Matthew Stafford. Stafford is a drop back passer, but he also makes a lot of plays with his feet. Reiff and Remmers, who very likely could be your starting left and right tackles, respectively, are going to have hold their blocks longer for the comparatively stationary Bradford.
Reiff pocketed a nice contract as well from the Vikings (five-years for $58.75 million and $26.3 million guaranteed) after playing in Detroit for five seasons. Neither player was the number one tackle on the free agent board—that distinction belonged to, in some observers’ opinions, Matt Kalil, the tackle the Vikings lost to the Panthers—but their ages and health history (Reiff has missed three games in five season and Remmers has played in all 37 games since becoming a starter in 2014) makes their signings a potential boon for the future.
As we said, the Vikings needed to pay the piper. The offensive line from last season was in dire straits, and it had done nothing but get worse since the 2016 season ended (with the loss of Kalil and the waiving of Brandon Fusco and Mike Harris). The Vikings lost out on some bigger names—Ricky Wagner and Andrew Whitworth—and the clock was ticking on the Vikings’ attempts to get acquire a veteran starting offensive line. And as the clock ticked, so did the cost counter.
To the Vikings’ credit, they locked down Remmers before he could get away to Houston for a scheduled visit, so there was other interest in him. Remmers and Reiff should be the bookends of a line that includes Alex Boone at left guard, Joe Berger (who reportedly is going to play next season) or Nick Easton at center, and Berger or the recently resigned Jeremiah Sirles at right guard.
Throw in T.J. Clemmings (who hopefully gets some time to develop), Willie Beavers and Rashod Hill, who had a nice game in the Vikings’ season finale against the Chicago Bears in January and the Vikings have begun to rebuild some depth into the line. That should in no way preclude them from looking for more in the upcoming draft.
In the final analysis (thus far, because the analysis is only beginning), the Vikings might not have stolen any free agency headlines in the early going, but they did improve their offensive line. Remmers is reportedly a decent run blocker, so in addition to Bradford potentially being pleased with the moves, the team needs to find a lead running back to run behind Remmers and his cohorts. Stay tuned to see who that will be.