Two weeks from tomorrow, free agency will officially kick off in the National Football League. Pete Prisco from CBS Sportsline has put together his list of the top 32 free agents that will come available starting on 29 February, and there are quite a few names on that list that should come of a great deal of interest to Vikings fans. Let's look at a few of those names and what Mr. Prisco has to say about them, shall we?
Antwan Odom, DE, Tennessee - Over the course of the last couple of days, defensive end has obviously jumped up the list of the Vikings' off-season priorities. . .or, at least, it should have. The Vikings really need an outside pass-rusher, and Odom is a guy that could be peaking at the right time. He has 12.5 sacks in 4 years with the Titans, but 8 of those came last season. He's a good pass rusher, but I'm of the understanding that he doesn't provide a whole lot in the way of run support. He'll turn 27 this season, so he should be entering the prime of his career. . .and I'm guessing that he'll certainly get paid like it.
Justin Smith, DE, Cincinnati - Personally, I think this is the guy that the Vikings should be focusing on if we go after a DE in free agency. Prior to dropping off to 2 sacks last season, Smith had been averaging 7 sacks a season for his career. He was franchised by the Bengals after 2006 and had the lowest sack total of his career in 2007. He's not much older than Odom, and looks to be a much more "complete" end than Odom is. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing him lined up next to the Williams boys come September.
Bernard Berrian, WR, Chicago - Berrian intrigues me a little bit. There were rumors that the Bears might franchise him. . .until right around the time the price tags for franchise players came out. Berrian has decent size at 6'1", but he's not a big, physical guy. He WOULD, however, provide a substantial upgrade as a deep threat over what we have now, and would allow Sidney Rice to work more as the possession-type receiver that he should be.
(Oh, and if you're wondering why I skipped past Moss on the WR list, there's more of a chance of you or I playing for the Vikings next year than there is of Moss coming back to Minnesota.)
Gibril Wilson, S, New York Giants and Ken Hamlin, S, Dallas - Either of these guys would be a nice addition, particularly if it meant shipping Dwight Smith and his rap sheet out of town. I think that Wilson is slightly better in coverage (though Hamlin did have 5 interceptions in 2007), but Hamlin is slightly more physical. Like I said, either of these guys would be nice.
Bryant Johnson, WR, Arizona - Johnson is stuck on Arizona's WR depth chart behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Last year he "only" had 46 catches for 528 yards. I put "only" in quotation marks because those numbers would have "only" put him second on the Vikings in both categories. I like Johnson a little more than Berrian because he's bigger (6'3", 215) and the drop-off in speed between the two of them isn't that great. He seems to be the kind of player that could help the Vikings' passing offense a lot.
D.J. Hackett, WR, Seattle - I'm not terribly interested in Hackett. Like the CBS page linked over there says, "If having ankle sprains gets you fantasy points, then this guy's a stud." Pass.
Jerry Porter, WR, Oakland - Possibly the most intriguing option out there. Porter's getting close to 30, which is where wide receivers generally start to decline. He put up decent numbers last year, despite being stuck in offensive purgatory in Oakland. However, he's quite the head case. . .or, at least, he has been for most of his career. . .and I don't know if the Vikings would have anything to do with him, what with the "culture of accountability" and all, he said sarcastically. He's definitely one to keep an eye on.
Eugene Wilson, S, New England - Another DB that would be an decent option, Wilson has experience at both CB and S, though I think most teams would prefer to keep him at the safety spot.
How about you folks? Anyone out there have any opinions on any upcoming free agents you'd like to see the Beloved Purple pursue?