With the Minnesota Vikings' season having come to an end nearly two weeks ago, we can start looking towards the off-season for our favorite football team. The Vikings have an interesting group of pending free agents, and the folks from Pro Football Focus have a list of all of them broken down by team. Are there any that are worth the Vikings' while to keep before free agency begins in mid-March?
You can see the list of Minnesota's free agents right here. Let's break these down a bit.
Guys The Vikings Need To Re-Sign
Everson Griffen, DE - Regardless of whether the Vikings will be staying with a 4-3 defensive scheme or transitioning to a 3-4, Griffen should be the Vikings' most important off-season priority. With Jared Allen (who we'll get to later) most likely gone, the Vikings need someone that they can pair up with Brian Robison. Griffen also has the athletic ability to be a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 LB. The team has tried transitioning him to linebacker in the past, but if the team does go 3-4 you'll quite likely see it again.
Desmond Bishop, LB - Another guy that can be a big part of the defense, regardless of scheme. Yes, he got injured again in 2013 once he finally got back on the field, but he's another guy that could fit into either type of defensive scheme. The Vikings should be able to get him fairly cheaply, I would think.
Fred Evans, DT - Evans isn't the "sexiest" name on this list, but he is a very good rotational player on the Minnesota defensive line.
Marcus Sherels, CB/PR - This isn't for his cornerback skills, though he did get better in that department than he had been over past years. He's made himself into one of the game's better punt returners, and he should stay around for that reason.
Joe Berger, OL - Has a chance to be the oldest player on the roster next season, but serves as a valuable backup at several positions along the offensive line. Can probably be retained for a reasonable price.
Guys That Will Probably Be Too Expensive
Toby Gerhart, RB - We all love us some TOBY SMASH, but this one is pretty easy to figure out. He's not coming back to sit behind Adrian Peterson for another few years, and as long as he's in Minnesota that's where he'll be. Would I like to see him back? Most definitely. But it's not happening.
Jared Allen, DE - Allen, despite notching double-digit sacks for the sixth time in six seasons as a Viking, really didn't have a great season according to PFF, notching an overall grade for the season of -4.0. He's still going to command a huge price tag, and I have my doubts that the Vikings will be able to meet it.
Guys That Have Caveats
Kevin Williams, DT - What happens with Williams (and Allen, to a lesser extent) will likely signal what direction this team is going in defensively. Williams was great when he slid over to the nose tackle slot in 2013, but has expressed no desire to do so full time. That might be where his future is with a 4-3 defense in this league, and I'm not sure where he'd slide into a 3-4. Perhaps at defensive end.
Jerome Simpson, WR - Jerome Simpson has been. . .interesting. . .during his time in Minnesota. He has the uncanny ability to draw pass interference penalties and make the occasional big catch. He also has the uncanny ability to get caught doing stupid things by law enforcement. It's that last one that should worry people. . .in fact, he might not be an option for anyone in 2014 as a result of his most recent fiasco.
Matt Cassel, QB - Not because I don't think he'd be a decent transition or anything like that, but remember. . .the decision to stay in Minnesota is Cassel's, not the team's. We'll have to see how this goes.
Guys To Stay The Hell Away From
Chris Cook, CB - Sorry. . .you can point to one of his 2 or 3 good games if you wish. That doesn't do it for me. A famous coach once said that your best ability is your availability, and Chris Cook's availability has been a question every year, whether it has to do with injuries or legal issues. With the 4th-lowest PFF grade for corners in the entire NFL and nary an interception in four years of work, I don't see a reason for him to be back.
Josh Freeman, QB - I don't think we need to go over this again.
Marvin Mitchell, LB - The Vikings' starting linebackers were awful this year. Mitchell was one of the Vikings' starting linebackers. I think you see where I'm going with this.
Charlie Johnson, G - I'm sure he's a nice guy. He's also shown that he isn't a very good left tackle or a very good left guard. He can be upgraded during the off-season.
Guy That Might Get A Look
Joe Webb, WR - He's a great blocking wide receiver, that's for sure. He's also looking at a depth chart in 2014 that will have, at least, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jarius Wright ahead of him at wide receiver, not to mention the (hopefully) triumphant return of Greg Childs and whatever other changes the Vikings might make in the off-season. I'm not sure if he could transition to some sort of H-back role or anything, but hey. . .if the Vikings move him to enough other positions, who knows what could happen?
Larry Dean, LB - Mainly a special teamer, can probably be replaced.
J'Marcus Webb, OL - Didn't do a whole lot this season, except get Christian Ponder killed on a play in Dallas that resulted in a strip/sack/fumble. Not sure if the team will make any efforts to keep him around.
That's what I've got, folks. What do you all think about the team's pending free agents?