With the NFL off season in full swing at the Combine in Indianapolis, we (and by we, I mean me, because no one else on staff wants to take the blame when this goes down in flames) here at DN World Headquarters have decided to revive the DN Mailbag, but we need your help to do it. So, if you're on Twitter, and you have a question about the Vikings, the draft, fantasy football, or life in general, tweet us a question with #DNMailbag somewhere in the tweet.
If you're stuck in the 19th century and refuse to embrace social media, shoot me an email...email@example.com.
For this edition, we're just going with Twitter questions. And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question, except the one right before lunch.
There are, however, stupid answers. And if it's one thing I excel at, it's stupid answers. You've been warned.
Our first question off of Vikings Twitter comes from Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelley. What's that? It's spelled Kelly? So this isn't the Hall of Fame QB? Well, the first question comes from Hall of Fame Tweeter Jim Kelley (prove he ISN'T in the Twitter Hall of Fame).
It's still a little early, Jim. It's easy to look at the Vikings roster and immediately think offensive line, wide receiver, or safety, but it all depends on who is available at those positions, how much the Vikings want to spend, and if Mike Zimmer wants the guy. I'm not trying to dodge the question, Jim, but Minnesota's approach to free agency has really flipped in recent seasons. Under Brad Childress, the Vikings generally made a few big splashes a year, like Steve Hutchinson and Brett Favre, and the big draft day trade for Jared Allen. In recent seasons, though, free agency has been a pretty low key affair for the Vikings, as they've really focused on the draft to build their roster.
With maybe the the exception of the Greg Jennings signing, Minnesota really hasn't made a splash in free agency since Rick Spielman became the full time GM. That said, there's been an interesting development in Baltimore, where they placed the franchise tag on K Justin Tucker. That means starting OL Kelechi Osemele is going to be a free agent, and free to sign anywhere. He's only 26, has been a very good guard, but moved to LT at the end of last season. Right now, today, this minute, I'd make the argument that Osemele is the best free agent that will be available based on the Vikings needs. The Ravens are making an 'aggressive offer' to keep him, and reports are that it's a contract that would make him the second highest offensive player in Baltimore, behind only Joe Flacco. But will the Vikes roll out big money to keep him? Because they'll have to, and there's been nothing that I've seen that's reported the Vikings, or Osemele, have any sort of mutual interest. We'll see.
Cole Ripperda is up next:
I think US Bank Stadium is going to be a House Of Horrors for opponents, and climate controlled environments are never a bad thing for an offense. It's a lot easier to execute an offense in good weather, and that will never change. But what I'm most excited about is the atmosphere. I'm always going to favor the Vikings being an outdoor team, and the two years in TCF Bank Stadium were really cool for a guy like me that watched the Vikings play outside at Met Stadium as a kid. But an open air stadium just wasn't a political reality, so the next best thing is a world class, state of the art enclosed stadium that's going to be so loud it's going to make ears bleed.
When the Metrodome was rocking, it set noise records, and people whined that it couldn't be that loud and the Vikings had to be piping in noise. But think about this--the Metrodome seating capacity was 64,000, and US Bank will hold 73,000. The two loudest stadiums in the NFL are generally acknowledged to be Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, and Century Link Field in Seattle. Arrowhead holds just over 76,000, and Century Link holds 67,000...and they're both outdoor stadiums. I'll I'm saying is bring some decibel measuring equipment to the Bank, because it's going to break some records.
Josh Smith asks...
Yes. In multiple parts of the body, one would imagine.
Matt Frazer wants to know about the draft:
#DNMailbag I know people are gunhoe about getting OL with 1st, but isn't getting an OL with 1st pick a higher risk than in FA? Not worth it— Matt Frazer (@frazermattd) February 26, 2016
Okay, time for Uncle Ted's Draft Philosophy--50% or more of every first round draft pick is a crapshoot. You guys know this, and the NFL intelligentsia that make the picks know this. Free agency is a bi of a crapshoot, but at least with that pool of players, you can look at an NFL body of work and make the determination as to whether or not you want to pay that person big money to play for you. The big advantage the draft has, especially with the rookie slotting system in the first couple of rounds, is that you can get a cost controlled, 4-5 year deal, for a player that's going to produce at a high level--if you can take his college film and correctly project if player A will be make the transition to the NFL.
I think the Vikes have done a better than average job of being able to make that projection, and offensive linemen are easier to project to the NFL than a QB or WR. When you add in the fact that high quality offensive linemen rarely see free agency, when one does you're really going to have to overpay to get the guy you want, and that can have a disastrous impact on the cap in out years. If the Vikings think o-line is their biggest need, I think they address it early in the draft.
Hey, Adam Patrick...you're up next:
I'm very much a proponent of the 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it' fan club. Although Eric Kendricks had some ups and downs on the inside, there were a lot more ups, and by the end of the year, especially that season ending game in Green Bay, he was playing at an exceptionally high level. Keeping him in the middle with Barr and Greenway flanking him makes the most sense. As to addressing linebacker in free agency, I can see a depth move there, but with a lot of talent coming out in the draft, the scenario I see most likely is Greenway coming back for one more year, drafting his eventual replacement, and keeping Kendricks in the middle. It just makes the most sense, and Kendricks has shown he can do the job.
Alex Goble, hit me with your best shot:
I don't think it's a stretch to say the Diggs can be a #1 wide receiver in the NFL. With Mike Wallace's return iffy, and a lot of other questions with guys like Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson, it's easy to look at Diggs and project him to be the top target for Teddy Bridgewater in 2016.
Les Davis wants to know:
Yes. I think the last couple have, to be honest, and unless there's a dramatic turnaround, I don't see Patterson back after 2016, kick return abilities aside.
Zach is up next:
As much as I like McKinnon as a receiver, I see his role as a runner in the offense increasing in 2016, which makes it almost certain he'll get more carries than catches. EIther way, the VIkings need to find ways to get the ball in his hands.
Okay, time for one more, and that goes to North Sports, who asks:
Matt Kalil has a hefty guaranteed contract coming due on March 9th, which is a shade over $11 million. By that I mean the Vikings owe him his full salary if he is on the team come March 9th, but they owe him nothing if they release him before then, with no cap hit. Mike Wallace is in the same boat--$11 million coming due, but no cap hit if they cut him.
I think WR is more easily replaced than a good LT, and Wallace was largely disappointing last season. Kalil was okay, and a lot better than he was in 2014, but is he a franchise LT? I don't think so...but if you cut him, you're probably not going to find someone in free agency to replace him, so now you're looking to the draft, and another rookie, to come in and protect Teddy's blindside. That doesn't seem like an ideal option, either. Assuming either one of Sully or Big Phil don't return, letting Kalil go just creates more problems than releasing him would solve.
For John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt, it's more an injury issue. For one, can they come back, and two, since they both missed all of last season, are you happy with the production of their replacements? I think you can make the argument that yeah, their replacements did okay. RT T.J. Clemmings wasn't consistently good, but he played better than most people thought, and you can see him getting better. Joe Berger was great, but is he a long term answer at C? I don't think so, but if Sullivan's back is still an issue he can play another year or two while the Vikings draft and develop the next guy.
When you factor everything in, it seems to me that Kalil is most likely coming back, with Sullivan, Loadholt, and Wallace rank ordered behind him.
So that wraps up our first edition of the revised mailbag. Again, if you want to ask a question, use '#DNMailbag' and hit us up on Twitter. You can find me using @purplebuckye, and DN proper is @DailyNorseman. Or shoot us an emails at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll put out a tweet asking for more questions later this week, and send us your email questions any time. Thanks, and Skol Vikings!