The free agency period for the 2014 season is still a long way away, and the draft is even further away. But Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer and his staff are surely well on their way to evaluating the state of the roster and identifying the biggest needs of the team. And there are some other outlets across the internet that have tried to identify the Vikings' biggest needs too. So, let's take a look at them.
We'll start with the folks over at NFL.com. This first source is well over a month old at this point, but in case you missed it, check out what Daniel Jeremiah had to say about all 32 teams. Here's what he said about the Vikings:
8. Minnesota Vikings
Team needs: QB, DE, OG
Analysis: The Vikings are very unsettled at the quarterback position, and I could see them going in that direction.
Yeah so, there's not a whole lot of analysis there, but I find it odd that linebacker was left off the list when this was posted back on December 30th. Also, depending on what the Vikings do with Jared Allen and Everson Griffen, defensive end could change from a severe need, to not one at all. And there's no mention of the secondary, either cornerback or safety. Our passing defense was one of the worst in the league last season, and with Chris Cook a pending free agent, this would seem to be a pretty major need of the team. He got QB and OG right, so I'll give him that.
Fast forwarding a bit, Evan Silva of Rotoworld fame just released his list of team needs yesterday. Again, you can check out what he had to say about all 32 teams. But, this is what he had to say about the Vikings:
26. Minnesota Vikings
QB: Vikings GM Rick Spielman formally threw in the towel on Christian Ponder last year, signing Josh Freeman in-season and playing Matt Cassel down the stretch. None of the three are assured of returning to the 2014 roster. Minnesota has the No. 7 overall pick in May's draft and would likely jump at the chance to draft Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, or David Carr.
DL: 32-year-old free agent RE Jared Allen is almost certainly done in Minnesota, and nose tackle is up for grabs with Fred Evans' contract also up. Owed $3.95 million, Letroy Guion is a likely salary casualty. Re-signing DE Everson Griffen and DT Kevin Williams would go a long way toward stabilizing this position group. Sharrif Floyd will be counted on for a big second-year leap.
CB: Rookie left corner Xavier Rhodes flashed shutdown ability when healthy in his first season, but sophomore slot man Josh Robinson took a huge step back, and enigmatic RCB Chris Cook is a free agent. As new Vikings DBs coach Jerry Gray has history with Alterraun Verner, pre-free agency rumors will inevitably connect the free agent to Minnesota. Verner would be an outstanding addition as a natural right corner capable of manning the slot in nickel packages.
G: The Vikings are in good shape at 4-of-5 offensive line positions, but badly need an upgrade on LG Charlie Johnson following his second consecutive abysmal season. Ideally, Minnesota would find a legitimate starting left guard and demote Johnson into a reserve/swing lineman role.
Despite getting our draft position wrong (we draft 8th, not 7th) it's hard to argue with his list. I love the speculation about Alterraun Verner and our new secondary coach. However there is still one major omission: linebacker. Otherwise, I think Silva pretty much nails it.
I just can't seem to understand how both of these guys have missed our glaring need at linebacker. Chad Greenway had one of the worst seasons of his career last year and was banged up a little bit. He just turned 31 last month, and it seems like he has entered the "decline" years of his career. It's been said a bunch here already, but I would be surprised if Greenway doesn't restructure or get released due to his very high cap hit. Erin Henderson was a below average option in the middle and probably drank himself off the team with multiple DUI arrests and NFL suspensions more than likely coming his way. After that, we had Marvin Mitchell, a career special teamer, as the other starter. It's very possible that all three linebackers are replaced. While we do have some interesting options already on the roster in Audie Cole, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, it would be pretty presumptuous to peg them all as starters next year.
So, what say you Vikings faithful? What are the biggest needs heading into this offseason?