According to Peter King, Phil Loadholt is the only free agent on the Vikings in the top 50. - Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
King also thinks that only one of the 50 would be a "best fit" with the Vikings.
Are you ready for some earth-shattering free agency news?!
Well too bad. You're going to have to wait until next week for that. Or longer if the Vikings follow the same pattern as they did last year in free agency. But still, we have some arbitrary offseason talking points to discuss!
SI.com's Peter King posted his top 50 NFL free agents on Friday morning. Despite it's Bleacher-Report-slideshow-style setup, it's a pretty good read, as is most of King's NFL stuff. For each player in his countdown, King gives some brief stats of what the player did in 2012 along with which team he believes the player would fit best on in 2013. Not a bad way to pass the time on the Friday before free agency officially begins, right?
Sure, as long as you don't mind the Vikings getting mentioned all of two times in the entire article.
Teams needing a strong run-blocker will be all over Loadholt. The Lions fit.
It's sound logic. Detroit needs a running game to compliment their current "throw it to Calvin Johnson 90% of the time and hope for the best" offense. Loadholt is a road grater that just helped clear space for (arguably) the best rushing season in the history of the NFL; he could help balance their attack.
I think the Vikings should re-sign their behemoth right tackle. Loadholt's shortcomings against the pass rush have been bemoaned plenty throughout his tenure in Minnesota, but the perception is far worse than reality. Pro Football Focus has Loadholt as their fourth ranked free agent tackle in the league (left or right). He rated very well in their offensive lineman advanced grading system last year. They acknowledge that he's much better against the run but agree that it could be much worse against the pass:
Loadholt is a prototypical right tackle-much better going forward than moving backwards. The big concern with him is in pass protection where at times he can get beat, but then to a degree this is overplayed with there plenty of worse tackles in pass pro than the Viking. His real strength is in the run game though and he has the kind of power and mean streak that gets movement at the point of attack. Adrian Peterson didn't nearly set the rushing record without some help from those around him after all.
You shouldn't always trust the experts, but in this case you should. The Vikings should take #48 off of King's list and keep him in purple (unless he's asking for a ridiculous amount of money).
Moving back to King's list, you'll notice that there aren't any other Vikings players listed. The Vikings definitely don't have a murderer's row of unrestricted free agents (which is a good thing). But you'd think that players like Pro Bowler Jerome Felton, Erin Henderson, or maybe even Jerome Simpson might get a mention.
Then again, lists like these are usually made to stir up some debate during the doldrums of the NFL offseason. I don't really mind Loadholt being the only Viking that made King's list. What I find more curious is that he thinks only one free agent is a "best fit" with the Vikings. And I'm not sure I agree with his choice of Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes.
The Vikings need a replacement for Antoine Winfield. Grimes gets hurt too much, but he's a good risk.
There's no debating that the Vikes could use more help in the secondary. But when you're bringing up a player's injury history in the one-sentence blurb about why he's good, it's a bit of a red flag. Grimes brings a lot of solid qualities to the field but each quality comes with that pesky "when healthy" caveat attached to it. If King is right (which he isn't) and Grimes is the only top free agent that would be an ideal fit with the Vikings (which he wouldn't be), expect a long, quiet offseason in Minnesota. (You'll never believe this, but King thinks about a dozen players would be a great fit with New England.)
Before I posted this, I emailed the Daily Norseman brain trust to get their opinion. Our very own Mark chimed in with some excellent insight:
I would pay no attention to that list. He has Andre "tub of goo" Smith rated #6 and he gave up 7 sacks, 2 hits, and 25 pressures. Loadholt gave up 4 sacks, 4 hits, and 23 pressures. And Loadholt helped pave the way for AP too.
That alone tells you this list is a bit off.
Also, signing Brent Grimes is a terrible move. The dude is turning 30 in July and was hurt last year. Perfect. Just what we need.
This is why we had Mark sign on, folks. No-nonsense, straightforward opinions on each and every theoretical Vikings personnel move. (His nickname for Andre Smith was an added bonus.) I couldn't agree more with Mark. King's list is shaky at best to begin with and the one player he had for the Vikings is even shakier. Let's hope the Vikings are more active in free agency than they were in King's article.
That's all for today, ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy the rest of your Friday, enjoy your weekend, and enjoy your ongoing debate about what the Vikings should do at wide receiver. (I think we might have to make two t-shirts with "#TEAMPERCY" and "#TEAMWALLACE" printed on them pretty soon.)