What Free Agents Should the Vikings Re-sign?

Should the Vikings bring back Chris Cook? - Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have a lot of free agents getting ready to hit the street. Who should they bring back?

In just under a month, the new league year will begin, and with it, free agency.  As we know, the Vikings need a lot of help on defense, but some of that help could be with guys that are getting ready to become free agents.

Those guys are:

PLAYER

POS

STATUS

AGE

2013 Salary Cap number

Jared Allen

DE

UFA

31

$17,063,956

Kevin Williams

DT

UFA

33

$5,000,000

Matt Cassel

QB

UFA

31

$3,700,000

Jerome Simpson

WR

UFA

28

$2,100,000

Josh Freeman

QB

UFA

26

$2,000,001

Fred Evans

DT

UFA

30

$1,750,000

Chris Cook

CB

UFA

27

$1,305,000

Toby Gerhart

RB

UFA

26

$1,013,150

Desmond Bishop

OLB, LB

UFA

29

$850,000

Everson Griffen

DE

UFA

26

$765,000

Seth Olsen

G

UFA

28

$670,000

Joe Webb

WR

UFA

27

$653,129

J'Marcus Webb

RT, T

UFA

25

$630,000

Marcus Sherels

CB

RFA

26

$630,000

Joe Berger

C

UFA

31

$620,000

Marvin Mitchell

OLB, LB

UFA

29

$605,000

Larry Dean

OLB, LB

RFA

25

$555,000

Matt Asiata

FB

ERFA

26

$480,000

Erin Henderson

ILB, LB

UFA

27

Charlie Johnson

G

UFA

29

Of those guys, who should the Vikings target to bring back?

SHOULD DEFINITELY BRING BACK:

Matt Cassel, QB: The Vikings are going to have to address the quarterback position in probably both free agency and the draft, but Fearless Leader made a compelling case on why the Vikings could, or even should, pass on QB with the #8 pick a little earlier.  If that happens, and the Vikings pick a project type guy later in the draft, having a veteran quarterback who can start for a season or two is going to be essential.  And ofthe pending free agent QB's, Cassel seems to be the most logical choice.

Everson Griffen, DE: For a defense that had a lot of issues in 2013, Griffen was one of the few consistently decent players on the team.  Assuming Jared Allen and Kevin Williams don't come back, getting Griff re-signed should be Rick Spielman's #1 priority right now.  Having a tandem of Griffen and Brian Robison would be a good start in getting the defense pointed back towards respectability, and would take one more need off the draft board.

Marcus Sherels, CB: Sherels won me over in 2013.  As the season wore on, he became a much better cornerback, and he has developed into one of the best punt returners in the NFL.  If the Vikings lose him it won't be devastating, but having Sherels for defensive backfield depth and special teams abilities would be a big plus.  And as a restricted rights free agent, the Vikings can determine how much action Sherels will get on the market.  I would think that they tender him fairly high, so if someone does sign him the team will get a decent amount of compensation in return.

Matt Asiata, RB: Asiata is an exclusive rights free agent, which means the Vikings control him.  They'll offer him a deal, and he'll be back in Minnesota next year.

SHOULD BRING BACK FOR THE RIGHT PRICE

Jared Allen and Kevin Williams: Maybe it's just me, but I kind of view Allen and Williams as almost a package deal. I know that seems odd, but I think either both guys will be back next year, or neither guy will be back.  They both have some football left in them, but not at the prices they commanded in 2013 (over $20 million between them).  I would love to see them play in a Mike Zimmer defense, and if they can come to an affordable deal, I wouldn't be opposed to it.

Chris Cook, CB: Chris Cook has a checkered history with the Vikings, both on and off the field.  When healthy, he's not a bad cornerback, and much like Allen and Williams, I'd like to see what he would do under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer. The easy comparison to Cook is Adam 'Pac Man' Jones in Cincinnati, who became Adam Jones and a pretty good CB.  But Jones hasn't had the injury history Cook has, and that's a big red flag. If he can stay healthy, I'd like him back, but can he?

Toby Gerhart, RB: Most everyone assumes Gerhart is going to look for a chance to start somewhere, and I don't think any Vikings fan would begrudge him.  He's starting material, but the Vikings aren't going to franchise him to be Adrian Peterson's backup.  But is there a chance he'll be back?  If you read what he had to say during Arctic Blast, yeah, I think there is. I'd welcome him back in a heartbeat, and as Peterson gets older, it's not inconceivable to see Gerhart's role increasing, to save wear and tear on AP.

COULD BE BACK BUT I WON'T LOSE SLEEP OVER IT

Jerome Simpson, WR: Could they bring Simpson back for depth? Yeah, I can see it, but as Cordarrelle Patterson came on at the end of the year, Simpson faded.  With Greg Jennings securely on the other side, there are probably other options I can see the Vikings exploring.

Fred Evans, DT: Assuming the Vikes don't bring Williams and/or Allen back, Evans could be a guy they target for depth and continuity.  The defensive line is probably going to see some serious turnover, so Evans might be a guy I could see the team bringing back.  I'm not sold on his ability, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility to see him back next year.

EVERYONE ELSE

As for the remaining players set to hit the market, I don't see any of them coming back to the Vikings.  We can assume Josh Freeman's spot will be taken by a draft pick.  Desmond Bishop has had one too many season ending injuries.  Joe Webb can be replaced by a bona fide WR, either in the draft or free agency.  And the list goes on.

Now, I say all this to say that this is all speculation, of course, and the Vikings could sign some, none, or all of these guys.  I'd like to think they'll also be active in signing other teams free agents, and depending on how that goes will go a long way in determining whether o not they re-sign any of their own players.  For example, there's a fair amount of decent cornerbacks set to hit the market, and depending on who's available and for what price will determine the fate of guys like Chris Cook.

Either way, this off season is going to  be pivotal for the Vikings and new coach Mike Zimmer.  How he works with Rick Spielman in free agency will give go a long way in determining whether 2014 will be a success.

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