A report has now come across that says that the Minnesota Vikings have reached out to the man that many consider to be the best guard available on this year's free agent market.
Per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Vikings have reached out to the representatives for guard Mike Iupati.
Iupati was selected in the first round (#17 overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, where he has played his entire career. He played his college ball at the University of Idaho (not to be confused with Jared Allen's alma mater, Idaho State University). Here's what Pro Football Focus had to say about Iupati, their #1 available guard in free agency.
Few guards in the league can match Iupati's sheer physical dominance in the running game, let alone any available as a free agent next month. Only once since he entered the league in 2010 has he finished the season outside our top five in our run blocking grades, finishing second to Evan Mathis and Marshal Yanda in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
The question mark for Iupati however, and what may serve to limit his appeal, is his work in pass protection. Since he entered the league he has never been better than an average pass protecting guard and in the last couple of seasons has even fallen away from that. His run blocking is as good as you'll find in the league, but in a widely pass first league Iupati may be overlooked in favor of more assured pass protectors.
Now, in Iupati's defense, the quarterbacks he's blocked for during his time in San Francisco have had the propensity to freelance a bit. But if the Vikings want to put a mauler into Charlie Johnson's old spot on the offensive line, Iupati would be the guy to do it. He's not going to come cheap, but the Vikings have never had an issue with paying premier money at the guard spot before. (See also: Hutchinson, Steve.)
I certainly didn't think the Vikings would be getting in on the Iupati derby. Maybe they're serious, or maybe they're just doing some due diligence. Either way, this is a pretty welcome development.