Heading into free agency, the Vikings had three serious areas of need:
Quarterback: Former first rounder Christian Ponder was the only QB on the roster after Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel left via free agency.
Defensive Line: Two long time stalwarts, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen, became free agents. Up and coming defensive end Everson Griffen also became a free agent, and the Vikings cut Letroy Guion, which in French means 'terrible defensive tackle'.
Linebacker: Erin Henderson drank and missed tackled his way out of town, and there is a general dearth of talent at that position.
After day one of free agency, two of the three problem areas are better, if not solved completely. Quarterback was settled a few days ago when the Vikings inked Cassel two a two year deal, and I don't think anyone thinks he's a long term answer. He is, however, a bridge to what the long term answer will be. At least hopefully.
On the defensive line, the Vikings got much better. Griffen was re-signed a couple days ago as well, to a five year, $42.5 million dollar deal. He gets $20 million guaranteed, and will know take over the right defensive end spot from Jared Allen.
The Vikings also went out and solved their nose tackle problem by signing big Linval Joseph to a five year, $33 million dollar deal, with $15 million guaranteed. The Vikings are hoping Joseph can resurrect a run defense that went from one of the most dominant in the mid 2000's to one of the worst in recent years.
Two players, five years, with $35 million guaranteed. Or, in other words, $12 million more than Kevin WIlliams and Jared Allen made combined last season. Both Williams and Allen are over 30, while Griffen and Joseph are in their mid 20's.
Speaking of Allen, it looks like he might be staying in the NFC North, or heading to Vikings West:
Chicago Bears update (@ChicagoBearnews) March 12, 2014
I think the NFL must have passed a law that says every former Viking must, at some point, play with Seattle, so of course Allen going to the Seahawks makes sense. But the Bears? True, they need a pass rushing DE since they released Julius Peppers, but Allen is the same kind of player that Peppers is--good, but aging. Granted, he's been more productive, but it's still not a long term answer for the Bears. Beats him signing with the Packers, though. That would've really sucked. As for Williams, we reported the other day that there is interest in him returning, but there have been no new developments.
Another former Viking also has a new home, as RB Toby Gerhart found a new home:
For Toby Gerhart and the #Jaguars, it’s a 3-year deal worth $10.5M with $4.5M guaranteed. Strong.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2014
TOBYSMASHTOBYCRUSHTOBYGETNEWCONTRACT. Good luck to Gerhart in Jacksonville, and I hear the noise coming off the seat tarps can be deafening. I'm kind of bummed to see Gerhart leave--his opportunities were limited behind Adrian Peterson, but when he did get a chance to play, he performed well. With Gerhart gone, I would imagine the Vikings will look to add a veteran to replace Gerhart, and Darren Sproles' name has popped up as just that guy, but there has been nothing official tying him to the Vikings right now. That said, with the value of running backs at what seems to be an all time low, they could get a really good back in the middle rounds of the draft, and solve the depth issue that way.
One free agent target that Vikings fans were hoping for is off the table. CB Alterraun Verner, a guy that really stepped up in his contract year for the Titans, inked a four year deal with Tampa Bay, who apparently signed everyone yesterday. There are still quality cornerbacks out there, and it's still an area the Vikings need to address, along with linebacker, but Verner was the guy most Vikings fans were hoping to land.
And finally, a bit of pure speculation on my part. Yesterday, one of the more prominent names cut was Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware. Ware, who played under Mike Zimmer, might be a name to keep an eye on for Vikings fans. He's been hurt in recent years, but he might make a great situational/rotational guy at OLB and DE, and seems to be the type of player Mike Zimmer likes to have on defense. Depending on who you believe, Ware is being pursued by Denver, and there is no inidcation that the Vikings are in on him at all.
But then again, no one saw Joseph to the Vikings, either. So anything is possible. Stay tuned for day two. Maybe there's a linebacker and a cornerback in our future.