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The Cavalry Isn't On The Way, Kids

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Circle the wagons and conserve your ammo, because there's no magic fix for the offensive line.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

When you're 5-0, it's easy to gloss over deficiencies on the roster, because hey, you're 5-0. It can't be that bad. Then a game like Philly happens, and there is a massive over-correction in thinking, to the point of 'this line is so bad the Vikings aren't even going to the playoffs unless they get a serious infusion of talent.'

And the natural inclination amongst a fan base is 'fire everyone and get new players'...which in theory is great. But to put in to practice? It simply isn't going to happen, kids. Well, never say never, but the chances of the cavalry coming over the ridge to save the wagon train is remote, for a few reasons. Let's look at those reasons now, shall we?

1. The free agent pool is dried up. Jake Long was probably the best free agent offensive lineman available, and the Vikings signed him. His debut with the team was, shall we say, inauspicious. And by inauspicios I mean 'hoo boy was that a pile of crap'. I don't think it's a matter of talent with Long, at least I hope it's not. I would like to think it was more rust than anything, and just getting used to game speed again. Of course if it is talent, and Long is done...welp. Looking at available talent, the best tackles on the market, according to Spotrac, would be either D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Eugene Monroe, or Phil Loadholt. We know Loadholt isn't coming back, and I don't know that it's unreasonable to think that either Ferguson or Monroe would be an upgrade over Long, T.J. Clemmings, or Jeremiah Sirles. I don't think they would be, but that's just me. But let's say they've identified a player they think they could help, though, just for the sake of argument. It would still be tough to sign him, because...

2. The Vikings are up against the salary cap. The Vikings had to move a lot of money around just to get Jake Long's contract under the salary cap, and there's just no wiggle room left. From the linked article, written by Vikings.com writer Craig Peters, quoting Vikings GM Rick Spielman regarding the Jake Long signing:

"I think last week we were under $50,000 in cap room, and I think Rob, with his little magic wand, was able to create some cap room so we could get Jake Long [signed]," Spielman said. "But again, we're pretty much strapped against the cap right now with the amount of money we have on IR and what we're able to do going forward."

Now, once again, we never say never, because the Vikings have who I think is the best cap guy in the NFL in Rob Brzezinski. If anyone could figure out a way to get a new player under the cap, it would be him. So let's play Devil's Advocate for a quick minute here. Let's say the Vikings decide they don't want to sign another free agent because the talent level isn't there, and they've identified either Cleveland's Joe Thomas or San Francisco's Joe Staley, two tackles rumored to be on the trading block. And let's say Rob Brzezinski does that voodoo that he does and finds money to make those salaries fit under the cap. I still don't think the Vikings make the deal, simply for the fact...

3. A trade would mean losing more draft picks. With the Sam Bradford trade, the Vikings already gave up their first round pick in the 2017 draft. But all is not lost there, as they have a second round pick, two third round picks, two fourth round picks, and a single pick in the fifth, sixth, and seventh round. So I would be stunned...STUNNED...if Minnesota were to further deplete that draft class to make a trade. Not having a first round pick is survivable right now because the Vikings have enough higher round picks left to move around if they want to. If they move any more picks from this class, the flexibility Spielman requires to make such moves is pretty much gone.

Well, how about 2018, Mr Smarty Pants blogging guy? It has been rumored that Cleveland wants a first round pick for Thomas, and Staley would also command a first round pick. So let's look to the 2018 draft class, where the Vikings have unaffected first, fifth, sixth, and seventh round picks, along with the last vestiges of the Bradford trade. They also owe Philadelphia a pick from this class, but it's a conditional fourth round pick. That fourth round pick could turn into a third round pick if Minnesota goes to the NFC Championship, and it becomes a second round pick if the Vikings win the Super Bowl. So until those conditions are determined, the Vikings cannot trade any of those picks.

Just for the sake of argument, let's assume the pick remains a fourth, and a first round pick is required to get either Staley or Thomas. A trade of the first round pick in 2018 means the Vikings go back to back years without a first round selection. I just don't see Rick Spielman putting himself in a position where he has no first round picks for two drafts in a row. The Vikings have said numerous times that they value first round picks, and the Bradford trade was a 'unique opportunity', which I actually believe. And since picks 2/3/4 are off the table for the time being, the chances of any picks being moved from the 2018 class is slim, it would appear. A

So no, you guys, I don't see any help coming for the offensive line. There is no magic fix for the Vikings offensive line, and there aren't any players that can come in and save the day, except the ones currently on the roster.