Vikings Next Roster Move? Fans Have a Request.
Minnesota Vikings faithful have one reasonable request for the remainder of the offseason.
Extend the long-term contract of RT Brian O’Neill.
When unscientifically polled with options of signing a couple of noteworthy free agents, extending the contract of Harrison Smith, or re-upping with O’Neill, onlookers of the Vikings dug into the trenches:
1,169 people responded.
This is a wee bit surprising, considering the fantasy football world that exists nowadays. Often, the offensive line isn’t all that sexy to afford attention. But Vikings fans vividly know the plight of the team’s offensive line amid the last decade. Normally, Minnesota presents an offensive line that paves lanes for running backs – see: Adrian Peterson or Dalvin Cook – but struggles tremendously with keeping men like Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, and Kirk Cousins upright.
For that reason, fans recognize O’Neill as a rare commodity in the Vikings locker room – an offensive lineman that actually performs well via pass protection. O’Neill, 25, enters Year Four with the Vikings, eyeing a contract extension that will likely keep him a member of the franchise for five more years.
It won’t be cheap.
In June, New Orleans Saints RT Ryan Ramczyk broke the bank, level-setting the market for right tackles. He inked a five-year, $96 million deal about one month ago. O’Neill won’t fetch that sum, but he won’t undershoot it by much. The University of Pittsburgh alumnus will probably fetch around $11-$14 million per season, keeping him in Minneapolis indefinitely.
Watch for the deal imminently, too. General Manager Rick Spielman enjoys conducting business during training camp – while avoiding in-season dealings – so that news alert on O’Neill could hit at any time.
The other “options” on the aforementioned poll aren’t far-fetched either.
Harrison Smith is the type of player that feels preordained to remain with the Vikings for his whole career. To date, he’s played nine seasons with the club. Securing Smith for another three to four years would draw universal kudos from Minnesotans.
As of the first day of training camp, Minnesota will host a kicking completion between junior journeyman Greg Joseph and Memphis rookie kickier, Riley Patterson. In the event neither of those men dazzle, free-agent kickers like Zane Gonzalez and Brett Maher are available. Nothing upsets head coach Mike Zimmer more than lousy kicking – don’t rule out a veteran special teams moves there.
Finally, the only defensive deficiency on paper for the 2021 bunch is right defensive end. Hunter should play LDE, per usual, and the men competing at RDE are decent: Stephen Weatherly, D.J. Wonnum, and rookies Patrick Jones II and Janarius Robinson.
The Vikings still have about $12 million to sign more free agents. Coming to an agreement with a bonafide complement-to-Hunter pass rusher like Justin Houston would be an exclamation point to this free-agency class.