After reading MarkSP18's offseason plan 5.0, it got me thinking more about all of the Vikings' free agents. The Vikings have until March 13th (just under 4 weeks) to make offers to players, before they become free agents. I'm going to do a player-by-player analysis of who, in my fan-based opinion, should be offered a new contract before March 13th, who should be allowed to test the free agent market, and who we should just let walk. Analysis after the jump.
Players To Sign Before March 13
There are only 2 players I think we need to sign immediately, and not allow them to hit the open market. Our list of free agents is long, but the majority of the list is over the age of 30, and the majority of them were not starters last year.
Erin Henderson: Erin was given his shot as a starter during his fourth year as a Viking, and all things considered, it wasn't terrible. Prior to 2011, he was nothing but a backup and special teams player, having never started a game. How did he do in 2011? Well, according to NFL.com, he only started 11 games, but played in 15. He had 70 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles. At only 25, he's a young player that still has potential to improve, and with starters experience, at the very least, he provides valuable depth. He should be resigned either as a potential starter heading into 2012 or retained as a backup. I don't think we should sign Erin to a big, long-term deal, but a 1-2 year, incentive-laden contract for a bit more than his rookie deal makes sense. He provides valuable depth that we don't really need to replace through the draft.
Letroy Guion: Letroy is another player who was in his fourth year as a Viking. He only started 3 games, but played in all 16 as a rotational, and situational guy. He hasn't shown a ton of play-making ability, but recorded 21 tackles in a limited role. Defensive line depth is a premium in this league, and at the young age of 24, he still has room to improve. Based on what we've seen, Letroy Guion is probably not a long-term answer at DT for the Vikings, but he's shown to be a valuable backup and depth guy, and resigning him to a short 1-2 year deal makes sense. Like Erin Henderson, we don't need to replace him through the draft.
Players To Let Test the Market
This is a list of players that we don't necessarily need to resign before March 13th. We can let these players test the open market, but at the end of the day, we should resign them. All of these players were starters at one point or another during this past season.
Visanthe Shiancoe: Shiancoe has had a couple of down years, and is 31 years of age. I do think he has some value as a starter, and would be a great tandem to the emerging Kyle Rudolph. There are plenty of older TE in the league who are doing well alongside a younger compatriot: Scheffler/Pettigrew and Shockey/Olson just to name two. It's anyone's guess as to what kind of money Shiancoe may find in free agency, and if it's big money, then we can let him walk. But if he can be retained for cheap, we should jump on it.
Husain Abdullah: Abdullah showed a lot of promise in 2010, and many of us here were excited to see what he could do as a starter in 2011. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to several concussions. In 9 games as a starter he recorded 49 tackles, 1 sack, 5 passes defended and 1 interception. Those are pretty good numbers for what was essentially half a season. He's still fairly young at 26, and he's been medically cleared to return to football. But, concussions are a funny thing. One more concussion might be the end of his career, or it might not. It's a risk, and therefore we should let him test the market. My guess is that we will be able to retain his services for cheap, and he has value as either a potential starter or as a solid backup.
Devin Aromashodu: Here's a guy who has great speed and potential, but just hasn't quite put it all together after 6 seasons in the NFL. After we cut ties with Berrian, the DA started 6 games for us and ended the year with 26 catches for 468 yards and a TD. Those aren't exactly great numbers, but they're respectable enough for a backup. He has value, experience, and knows the system. We should let him test the FA market, and if he can be kept for cheap we should jump on it. Our WR depth is shaky at best, and with a good FA pickup and draft for the WR position, the DA would fit nicely as our #5, situational guy.
EJ Henderson: This is a tough one. On the one hand, he put these numbers as 14-game starter: 109 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 passes defended and 3 forced fumbles. On the other hand, he's 31 years old, and those numbers are actually worse than last year. Also, consider that nether this year or last have been anywhere close to his prime years in 2006 and 2007. I hate to say it, but EJ Henderson may be done as a Viking. That said, as a fan, I still pull for the guy. He should be allowed to test the open market, and if he can be retained, I think he would make an excellent backup. He probably won't garner much from other teams, but he could mentor Jasper Brinkley and help transition him into a starter.
Players to Let Go
These are all players that we should not resign. None of them are starters, and many of them are at, near or over 30 years of age. Most of them saw some playing time in 2011, but didn't impress, and therefore, they don't offer much as a backup either. We could potentially sign any of them as depth, but we should be able to find improvements in the draft, or through other free agents.