clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Vikings High On ESPN's List Of Future Contenders

New, comments
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings may have had a rough end to their 2015-16 season, but it would appear that they have plenty of reason to look ahead to the future.

ESPN took a look at every NFL team and ranked how close they are to being a contender in the near future. The Vikings were one of five teams that ranked as a solid "7" on ESPN's list, with only four teams being definitively ranked above them on that scale.

The Vikings need to fix their ragged offensive line. They need to add a dynamic receiving threat, and they need much more from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, so they're not asking running back Adrian Peterson to account for nearly one-third of their yards again at age 31. But their defense should be one of the NFC's best again next season, and in Mike Zimmer the Vikings have a coach who has quickly changed the identity of the franchise. A few good offseason moves should have them among the NFC's contenders in 2016.

The good news is that the Vikings should have plenty of capital to do that with this offseason. They already have eight draft picks in their pocket, and they have about $18 million to play with in free agency. . .a number that could grow significantly larger depending on some of the roster decisions that the Vikings have to make. Depending on the fates of players like Mike Wallace, Phil Loadholt, and John Sullivan, the Vikings' available cap space could more than double by the time free agency starts on 9 March.

The only teams that ranked above Minnesota on the list were the Arizona Cardinals (who were ranked as a "10"), the New England Patriots (also a 10), the Seattle Seahawks (9), and the Pittsburgh Steelers (8). Among NFC North teams, the Green Bay Packers received the same ranking as the Vikings did, although they didn't seem to account for the fact that things might not be all kissy-kissy lovey-dovey on the other side of the river. The Detroit Lions were giving a rating of 5, while the Chicago Bears received the NFC North's lowest grade at a 4.

This is going to be a very interesting offseason for our favorite football team, folks. If Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer can make the right moves, the Vikings could be ready to chart a course that would make them contenders for a very long time to come.