With the franchise tag deadline behind us, and barring some last minute contract extensions, we have a pretty good idea of who will be available when free agency opens on March 13th. Rotoworld has a pretty good Master List of free agents that they keep updated, and Yahoo has a good list of the players who received franchise tags. Between the two of them, I was able to come up with a decent wishlist for free agents. After the jump, check out my breakdown of the Vikings biggest needs that they *could* address via free agency: Offensive Line, Defensive Secondary and Wide Receiver.
There aren't many young, talented tackles available via free agency, but there are a couple of intriguing guards that we could go after to replace Steve Hutchinson. We are set at Center, and with the possibility of Matt Kalil or even Riley Reiff staring us in the face on draft day, picking up an elite guard would do wonders for our offensive line.
Carl Nicks, G Saints
Nicks hopes to stay in NO next year, but he's also asking for more money that Greer got last year ($56.7 Million). The Saints aren't likely to commit that kind of money. While he would be the most expensive option at guard, he's also the best option out there at only 27 years of age when the season begins.
Ben Grubbs, G Ravens
Grubbs isn't the elite option that Nicks is, but he's still a top 15 guard in the league. He's a year older than Nicks, but we could easily sign him away from Baltimore, and he'd be a solid contributor for the next 5 years.
A few of the prized free agents were recently franchised, but there are still many elite options available. With so many holes in the secondary, we basically have to sign one or more guys to remain competitive. Here is my wishlist:
Brandon Carr, CB Chiefs
The Chiefs already have Brandon Flowers signed to a big contract and picked up Stanford Routt via free agency. While the Cowboys have made it known that they will "go all in" to sign Brandon Carr, he's the top free agent cornerback, and will be only 26 when the season begins. He'll be expensive, but worth it.
Richard Marshall, CB Cardinals
Marshall has versatility to play safety or cornerback. He signed a 1-year deal in Arizona last year, but played well. He would be a great fit for the Vikings as he could address any one of our needs in the secondary, and he'd be a much cheaper option than Carr, and only 1 year older.
LaRon Landry, S Redskins
Landry has had a solid run in Washington, but probably won't be resigned. While there are some injury concerns with Landry, he's an elite talent and is at the top of my wishlist. He'll be 27 when the season starts and comes with a history of excellent coverage skills.
Thomas DeCoud, S Falcons
DeCoud may be the odd-man out in Atlanta as they need to secure many of their other free agents first. DeCoud will also be 27 when the season starts, but has been a solid contributor in Atlanta. He's not as elite as Landry, but would be a great pickup for us too.
The pool of wide receivers has shrunk considerably after the franchise tag deadline, but there are still plenty of playmakers available. Here is my wishlist:
Robert Meachem, WR Saints
Meachem has the speed and size to be a true #1 in this league. He has shown flashes of potential in NO, but is overshadowed by Marques Colston and is part of a "share the wealth" offense with several other great WR talents (Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, even TE Jimmy Graham). Meachem will be 27 when the season starts and could be itching for a chance to be a true #1 wideout. He won't be as expensive as some of the other options either, but could be just as valuable.
Laurent Robinson, WR Cowboys
Robinson showed he has the skills to be a #1 WR when his number got called in Dallas this past year. When Miles Austin went down with injury, Robinson stepped up big. He's got elite speed and good hands, but hasn't shown he's anything more than a 1-year wonder. He should be relatively cheap, and will also be 27 when the season starts. If Meachem isn't available, Robinson should be our target.
If we could sign Carl Nicks, Brandon Carr, LaRon Landry and Robert Meachem, that would go a long way to righting our Viking longboat. I doubt we'll get all 4 of those guys, but even 1 or 2 would make a huge impact. I'll be waiting curiously to see what Rick Spielman can pull off come March 13th. He's got his work cut out for him, but my fingers are crossed that we can land some playmakers in free agency that will take some of the pressure off of the draft.