Well the tagging and resigning of players has commenced and the pickings are getting slim at some positions especially safety and wide receiver. But that should come as no surprise to anyone.
The safety group has really shrunk and teams were wise to tag their own safeties since the franchise tag number is only 6.2 mil this year. Eric Weddle is very lucky to get paid that 8 mil per year average last year.
The wide receiver group has shrunk a little but the candidates that were tagged or resigned was expected.
The corners are mainly still available. Considering that the franchise tag number is $10.6 mil that is understandable.
The guards may still be available by the 13th as well. Carl Nicks and Ben Grubbs are locks to hit the market.
The linebackers are mainly still available.
So who should the Vikings realistically target?
First, I think the current Vikings free agents are all probably hitting the market. I suppose the team can still offer someone a deal but they are sure waiting until the last minute to do so. I just do not see it and if I was a player I would probably want to test the market before accepting any offer from the Vikings. I mean they are only 4 days away. I am sure we may read about one or two players the Vikings sign at the last minute. Personally, I would let them all hit the market.
And it seems more and more likely that Hutchinson, Herrera, & Griffin are all going to get released for salary cap purposes.
So I think that the safety group has thinned out and the only one left is LaRon Landry. He is a definite risk considering he has decided to let his achilles injury heal naturally which is not unheard of for that injury. Still, the Vikings went through this with Rice and it backfired. Are they going to sign a guy to a decent deal who may ultimately need surgery? Is it worth the risk?
After Landry we have Reggie Nelson, Dwight Lowery, Mike Adams, Jim Leonhard, Craig Steltz, Brodney Pool, and Tom Zbikowski. Nelson would be interesting. Really all of them are an upgrade over what the Vikings have now that is for sure. But by how much and is the salary going to be worth it?
The wide receiver group still has Vincent Jackson, Marcus Colston, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Llyod, Mario Manningham, Pierre Garcon, Robert Meachem, Laurent Robinson, and Braylon Edwards. I think the Vikings will be lucky to get VJack or Colston. I would not want Wayne or Lloyd. The rest will probably go elsewhere or want too much money. I will cross my fingers and hope for Meachem.
I do not know why but I do not expect the Vikings to sign many top free agents. I am hoping that they can get a top linebacker though.
But before I go on there is one thing that should be addressed right now IMHO. The Vikings need to extend Jared Allen to lower his cap hit for this year. He is due approximately 26 mil over the next two years none of which is guaranteed. If they give him a 5 year 65 mil deal with 26 mil guaranteed and the last two years being huge, then he probably will go for it. I mean right now he can get hurt and get no mo money. If he refuses then I would have to seriously consider trading him right now. His value is never going to get higher. But that is not my first choice right now.
So here are the free agents I would target in this Set Your Sights Lower plan.
I do not think the players are bad just that they probably will cost less and could be on the rise in their career arc.
Dan Connor LB age:26 6'2.3" 231 4.67
I like Connor and think he can do a decent job in coverage. His stats do not show it but given the chance I think he is ready to shine. Plus he will not be as expensive as Curtis Lofton or David Hawthorne.
Eric Wright CB age:26 5'10.5" 192 4.36
I think Wright is a solid corner and he has pretty good stats across the board and with two different teams.
Richard Marshall CB/FS age:27 5'11.1" 187 4.42
Marshall is just solid and so far has been very durable. I think the Vikings can put him at CB or FS. He may end up the FS depending on what happens with Cook. There may be a bit of a bidding war for him though so the Vikings could decide he is too expensive. I think they should go for it though.
Dwight Lowery S age:26 5'11" 201 4.54
Lowery has starting experience having started over 29 games. He is not top of the line but I think he could be more than adequate for now.
Philip Wheeler LB age:27 6'1.7" 248 4.66
Wheeler is another player on the rise IMO. He can play on the outside or inside. Another player with starting experience that will not cost too much.
Jason Jones DT age:25 6'5.2" 276 4.76
Jones is an undersized tackle but very effective rushing the passer. That is exactly what I would use him for in games. A third down pass rushing defensive tackle. I wonder about the cost though.
Andre Caldwell WR age:26 6'0.2" 204 4.31
I think that Caldwell is a kind of player who has not reached his potential yet. He may never reach it either. But he has excellent speed and starting experience. I just believe that since WRs take sometimes 3 years to really start to be able to make an impact, he is ready for his time to shine. He would be very good depth no matter what.
Josh Morgan WR age:26 6'0.2" 219 4.46
I think Morgan is another WR that is ready to make a move. Also, he will not be too expensive either. Considering he has starting experience, he would be a decent addition to the WR group.
Kellen Davis TE age:26 6'6.2" 262 4.58
I think he is just too big and is already a pretty good blocker. I think he has been underutilized in Chicago so far.
This is 9 free agents but they should not be too expensive and would provide some decent depth at the very least. I think that getting all nine will be lucky. It all depends on the contracts.
They are not the splash signings that many want but I do not see the Vikings being able to attract too many of the top free agents. I think they should sign these guys who are second tier players because they have starting experience and could be ready to shine. If they do not work out it will not cost the team too much money. Plus the rookies may or may not start. Look at Brandon Burton, Brandon Fusco, DeMarcus Love, and even Christian Ballard. These players should be ready to step it up more next year but it remains to be seen. The rookies selected this year would also have an adjustment period. By the time these rookies are ready to shine the above free agents could be out the door.
Now to the draft. What to do? How can the Vikings make any moves? How can they pass on Matt Kalil or RG3 if either is there. They pretty much should take whichever one is there. I would. But for the sake of not being boring I will mix it up for you.
I think the first two picks will be Luck and RG3. Thus the Vikings could take Matt Kalil if they wanted. But Cincinnati has two first round picks plus an extra second next year from the Carson Palmer trade. I think they want to jump in front of Cleveland and Tampa to get Trent Richardson. I know that many people will say they can get a back anywhere in the draft and that will be sufficient. This is true. But Richardson is not a sufficient running back. He is outstanding. There is a big difference.
So the Vikings trade the #3 pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for the #17, #21, & #116 picks this year and their highest second round pick next year.
Obviously this is crazy but Spielman already said that having that top tackle is not necessary. Just having an adequate one could work as long as you have the weapons. So here are the picks.
I am using this mock as a first round guide ... http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Mock-Draft-40-5010.html
17. David DeCastro OG Stanford 6'4.7" 316 5.34
21. Jonathan Martin OT Stanford 6'5.3" 312
35. Alameda Ta'amu DT Washington 6'2.5" 348 5.34
67. Markelle Martin FS Oklahoma State 6'1.6" 207 4.47
comp. Jamell Fleming CB Oklahoma 5'10.5" 206 4.43
98. Brandon Mosley OT Auburn 6'5.5" 314 5.05
116. Keenan Robinson LB Texas 6'3.1" 242 4.69
130. Marvin McNutt WR Iowa 6'2.6" 216 4.42
comp. Tank Carder LB TCU 6'2.3" 236 4.56
164. Jaye Howard DT Florida 6'3" 301 4.75
193. Donnie Fletcher FS/CB Boston College 6'0" 201 4.53
206. TJ Graham WR North Carolina State 5'11.3" 188 4.35
An alternate free mock could be ...
17. Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi 6'4" 298 4.78
21. Stephon Hill WR Georgia Tech 6'4" 215 4.30
35. Josh Robinson CB UCF 5'10.1" 199 4.29
67. Mike Martin DT Michigan 6'1.4" 306 4.84
comp. Jamell Fleming CB Oklahoma 5'10.5" 206 4.43
98. Brandon Mosley OT Auburn 6'5.5" 314 5.05
116. Nate Potter OT Boise State 6'5.7" 303 5.28
130. Tank Carder LB TCU 6'2.3" 236 4.56
comp. Evan Rodiguez HB/FB Temple 6'1.4" 239 4.56
164. A.J. Jenkins WR Illinois 6'0.2" 190 4.37
193. Ryan Miller OG Colorado 6'7.2" 321 5.15
206. Shawn Loiseau LB Merrimack 6.0.4" 246 4.75
Of course the mocks will change as we get closer to the draft and we see what the team does in free agency. They very well could sign an offensive tackle and bypass Kalil at #3. I think they may really feel they can get by with having just an adequate left tackle. I would not be surprised at all.
I think that if the Vikings release some players they could free up some cap room but not a whole heck of a lot. If they can extend Allen then they free up a few mil more. If they trade him then they free up a whole lot more. But that is for another post.
They need to sign 8 or 9 free agents just to have depth. Some of these guys will be around 2 mil or less. I have to set my sights lower because I do not see the cap space to sign more than one big time free agent.