With the "legal tampering" period for free agency in the National Football League set to kick off just one week from today, the Minnesota Vikings are still apparently a bit up in the air about what to do about their current offensive tackle situation, where there are questions to be answered about both Phil Loadholt and Matt Kalil.
On Friday, the following information came out over the Twitters from KSTP reporter Darren Wolfson.
Hear the #Vikings want Loadholt in 2016. Look for the 2 sides to talk $$ after the Combine. Current cap hit is $7.75M. Vikes want to lower.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) February 26, 2016
(con.) There was a meeting last night on the Loadholt front. ... Also hear that the #Vikings are torn on Kalil. $11.1M cap figure.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) February 26, 2016
It's not surprising that the Vikings are working to reduce Loadholt's cap figure. He's coming off of an injury and he's now 30 years of age. They apparently like the progress he's making in his rehabilitation from the Achilles tear that cost him all of 2015, but if they want him back, they're likely going to want it at a discounted price.
The bigger question is what they're going to do with Kalil. As Wolfson says, he has a cap figure of $11.1 million, but it would cost the Vikings zero dollars to cut him before the start of the new league year on 9 March. The Vikings might be working on reducing his cap figure as well in the form of an extension, but there hasn't been any news on that front yet.
If the Vikings can't come to an agreement with Kalil and end up letting him go, you'd have to think they would go hard into the free agent market at the left tackle position. The centerpiece of that market would likely be Baltimore Ravens' offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele. With the Ravens choosing to use their franchise tag on kicker Justin Tucker, Osemele is going to hit the market, and the proverbial Brinks trucks are going to be lined up around the block attempting to get to his house. He was primarily a guard for Baltimore, but moved over to left tackle following an injury to Eugene Monroe and played extremely well there.
If a deal with Osemele isn't possible, there is a bit of a drop-off, primarily because the next two players at the position have some injury issues. Russell Okung of the Seattle Seahawks suffered a pectoral injury in Seattle's playoff victory over Minnesota, while Kelvin Beachum of the Pittsburgh Steelers suffered a torn ACL last October and may or may not be available for the 2016 season opener.
The next week is going to be an interesting one as we see what comes out of the Minnesota front office regarding their offensive tackles. There are some other decisions that will have to be made as well, and we'll get to those as the week goes along.