As it stands right now, one of the few spots that appears to have more questions than answers for the Minnesota Vikings is the offensive line. According to one of the longest-tenured members of the team, they might start getting one of the answers at that spot just before the NFL Draft.
Offensive tackle Phil Loadholt, who missed the entire 2015 season after an injury, has stated that he has just started running again and says that he will be ready for the team's offseason workout program that kicks off in April.
Loadholt had been the Vikings' starter at right tackle since his rookie year in 2009. In his first five NFL seasons, he missed just two games. However, he missed the final five games of the 2014 season with a pectoral injury, and lost his entire 2015 season after tearing his Achilles tendon in the team's second preseason game.
There are at least a couple of questions that will have to be answered if Loadholt is going to return to the Vikings in 2016. Foremost among those questions would have to be his contract. Loadholt is going into the final year of the 4-year contract he signed in 2013, and has a cap figure for this season of $7.75 million. That's the fifth-highest figure on the team as things stand right now (behind Mike Wallace, Matt Kalil, Adrian Peterson, and Everson Griffen). The Vikings would incur a $1.75M dead money hit if they were to let him go, but would ultimately save $6M in cap space. It wouldn't be surprising if the team were to approach him about lowering his cap figure a little bit if they were to bring him back.
That would then lead to the question of how the Vikings would shuffle the offensive line around in the event of Loadholt's return. While rookie T.J. Clemmings had a bit of a rough go at Loadholt's right tackle spot in 2015, the team obviously believes in him, and could end up trying to shift him to another spot. That could lead to a potential issue at guard that would include players like Brandon Fusco (who could potentially move back to the right side), Mike Harris (a pending free agent), and Joe Berger (depending on the status of John Sullivan).
It's hard to believe that the re-addition of Phil Loadholt would not benefit the Vikings' offensive line after the season they had as a group in 2015. However, at this point, it remains to be seen exactly how the dominoes would fall after Loadholt came back.