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Vikings Off Season Strategy Overview

This off season is probably considered critical to the Vikings continuing to compete for the North division and winning it again in the near future. Many believe that with the play of the defense the team's window is now. It is hard to argue this very good point. What will be the key to getting over the hump and winning the division again and beating the other teams in the division.

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I think the two obvious questions are fixing the offensive line (or trying as best as possible) and making a decision on Adrian Peterson.  I think the QB situation will take care of itself as Teddy recovers from his injury.  When will he be able to play is an unknown at this point so having Bradford as the starter removes any worry.

I think the first decision has to be about AP because what they decide to do with him should inform what kind of line they want to have.  After watching the offense the last half of last season when Shurmur took over it appears to me that this team is going to pass first.  I believe they will continue to get the ball out quickly too.  This offense fits Bradford and I believe it will fit Teddy too.

I am not sure where AP fits in this offense. I do not believe he does and thus, they should probably let him go.

Fixing the offensive line can be handled in many ways with some likey not being very popular. I think you take a look at the current players and make a decision there before looking at free agency.

The first question is what kind of offer to make to Matt Kalil.  There has been debate recently with many a fan opining that it would be best to make him a moderate offer since there are no better options out there.  A moderate offer would likely be slightly more than what Michael Oher received which was a 3 year 21.6 mil deal.  Maybe a 3 year 22.5 mil offer?

Maybe they attempt to get him to agree to a deal similar to what Russell Okung (5 year 53 mil) and Kelvin Beachum (5 year 45 mil) received last year both of which only had the first year at 5.2 mil guaranteed?  That may be a fair deal that allows both sides to have enough information as to whether or not the rest of the deal should be allowed to happen. 

The question is will he be willing to sign one these deals?  Perhaps he and his agent feel he could command a Anthony Castonzo type deal which was a 4 year 43.812 mil deal with a 14 mil signing bonus and 35 mil guaranteed?  It is worth a try that is for sure.

My opinion is they should let him test the market.

Fusco is the next player who has a decent cap hit but offers 3.2 mil in cap savings if released. I think the time has come for his release.

After that you have Boone and Berger as solid players.  It is not known if Berger is going to play another season yet even though he is under contract. He will be 35 years old and suffered a concussion at the end of last season.

The remaining players are Nick Easton, Jeremiah Sirles, TJ Clemmimgs, Willie Beavers, Zac Kerin, Reid Fragel, Marquis Lucas, and Austin Shepherd.  A lot of young players needing more development which may or may not come to fruition.

To upgrade this line it would seem that free agency is going to have to provide at least a couple of players.  The draft should yield at least two more as well (hopefully).

Looking at free agency here is a list of free agents from PFF. 

There are some players missing like DeSean Jackson whose under contract for 2017 but it is voidable 5 days after the Super Bowl.

There are 26 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 7 RFA (restricted) guards.  The top players are Kevin Zeitler, TJ Lang, Larry Warford, and Ronald Leary.

There are 26 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 7 RFA (restricted) tackles.  The top players are Andrew Whitworth, Ricky Wagner, Riley Reiff, Menelik Watson, and Mike Remmers.

There are 7 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 2 RFA (restricted) centers.  The top players are JC Tretter, AQ Shipley, Joe Hawley, and Eric Kush.

There are 36 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 13 RFA (restricted) runnng backs.  The top players are Le'Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, Latavius Murray, Jacquizz Rodgers, LaGarrette Blount, Rex Burkhead, and DeAngelo Williams.

There are 42 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 9 RFA (restricted) wide receivers.  The top players are Alshon Jeffrey, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Terrelle Pryor, Kenny Britt, Brandon LaFell, and Kendall Wright.

There are 30 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 7 RFA (restricted) tight ends.  The top players are Martellus Bennett, Jacob Tamme, Anthony Fasano, Jack Doyle, Jared Cook, and Vernon Davis.

There are 50 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 8 RFA (restricted) defensive tackles.  The top players are Calais Campbell, Kawann Short, Chris Baker, Brandon Williams, Johnathan Hankins, Sylvester Williams, and Bennie Logan.

There are 48 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 7 RFA (restricted) defensive ends.  The top players are Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jabbal Sheard, Demarcus Ware, Lorenzo Alexander, and Julius Peppers.

There are 46 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 8 RFA (restricted) linebackers.  The top players are Lawrence Timmons, Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower, Kevin Minter, and Zach Brown.

There are 38 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 11 RFA (restricted) corner backs.  The top players are Stephon Gilmore, Morris Claiborne, Logan Ryan, Trumaine Johnson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Prince Amukamara, AJ Bouye, and Captain Munnerlyn.

There are 42 UFA (unrestricted free agent) and 8 RFA (restricted) safeties.  The top players are Eric Berry, Johnathan Cyprien, Tony Jefferson, Barry Church, DJ Swearinger, TJ McDonald, JJ Wilcox, & Bradley McDougald.

There are some free agent kickers and punters but I ain't talking about them!

I would love to see the Vikings sign Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler, Ricky Wagner, and JC Tretter to shore up the line.  How sweet would that be?  I imagine it would take about 8 to 9 mil for Whitworth, 9 to 10 mil for Zeitler (thanks to Osemele), 5 to 6 mil for Tretter, and 7 to 8 mil for Wagner.  This could add up to 33 mil per season plus they have Boone's 6.7 mil on the books.

A starting line of Whitworth, Boone, Tretter, Zeitler, and Wagner would be nice on paper.  Very nice!

But it is a pipe dream.  There are 32 teams and many of them have the same needs and will be eyeing the same free agents.  This also assumes that these best free agents will not get re-signed by their own teams.

I could easily see Whitworth, Reiff, Wagner, Watson, and Remmers are staying with their teams.  Same with Zeitler, Lang, and Warford.

I really think the pickings are going to be slimmer and that the competition will be fierce.  There are other teams out there willing to spend more than the Vikings as has been proven in the past few seasons.

I think the Vikings will be lucky to get two top free agents at any position.

This is probably why some fans truly believe the best option is to negotiate with their own free agents now and try to get reasonable deals with Kalil, Peterson, and maybe others like Munnerlyn and Patterson.

I would not.

I wonder about a player like Mike Remmers.  He played at Oregon State and did not get drafted in 2012.  He signed as an UDFA with the Broncos following the 2012 draft.  He bounced around practice squads including the Vikings until October of 2014 when the Panthers snagged him off the Rams practice squad.  He has played at least at an average level (if not better at times) since then and is now a probable semi-desired free agent.

I wonder about him in relation to TJ Clemmings, Rashod Hill, Willie Beavers, Reid Fragel, and Jeremiah Sirles.  I wonder if the Vikings feel that these players are going to take another step next year and will sit tight in free agency and just focus on the draft for offensive line.

Imagine an offensive line depth chart like this ...

LT - Rashod Hill, TJ Clemmings
LG - Alex Boone, Zac Kerin
OC - Joe Beger, Nick Easton
RG - TJ Clemmings, Willie Beavers
RT - Jeremiah Sirles, Reid Fragel

... Yikes!  That would be scary for Bradford!

But I think Sirles could be on the same trajectory as Remmers.  Fragel is very interesting as he had less experience playing tackle than Clemmings coming out of college.  Next year will be his 5th year since being drafted.  He has bounced around practice squads.  He could be ready to bloom.

I am not sure how attractive the Vikings will be to free agents either.  If they cut AP will that make them more attractive or less?  Most people would say less but maybe that is not true at all.  The Vikings could not get Boling or Osemele. Now maybe that had more to do with Bridgewater.  But players see what kind of offense the Vikings run with AP.  Often times it is run, run, pass.  I don't know.  Just spit balling here really.

In the end money talks and the rest walk.

I think the Vikings could try for top guys and then settle for lesser under the radar guys.  I am probably going to do several variations of plans this off seasons some that may include trading for players (no, not Joe Thomas).

I think there will be some cuts that happen too.  Russell Okung and Kelvin Beachum could get released.  Here are the relevant details of Okung's deal ...

The Broncos have until the final day of the league year to pick up an option for the next four years, which are  valued at $48 million. If the Broncos fail to exercise the option, which costs $1 million, Okung will be a free agent in 2017. If picked up Okung will recieve $19.5 million in fully guaranteed salary including an $8 million roster bonus in 2017 and his 2017 and 2018 base salaries.

... the relevant details of Beachum's deal are ...

The Jaguars can exercise a $5 million option on Beachum after the 2016 season to pick up the 2017 through 2020 seasons. If exercised Beachum will receive an additional $13 million in fully guaranteed base salary. If the option is not exercised Beachum will be a free agent in 2017.

... I think Okung gets cut and Beachum stays.  Beachum is due a little less than Okung. 

Maybe the Eagles part ways with Jason Peters who also could retire?  If Peters is let go he will have his choice of where to play and I doubt he would want to come here and play on this line.

Yes free agency is always a very exciting time for me and I get my hopes up for some big signings only to have them dashed year after year.  And yes, I know the response about past teams that went "hog" wild in free agency only to have it blow up.  But I do not care.  I want the team to go wild for once.

In this plan I am going to go with some players that I thought were under the radar signings.  But maybe they are not?  In this plan I want to go heavier on the defensive side of the ball.  I think signing some mid level offensive linemen and drafting some players will help (hopefully) to make the line get a little better.  If one or two of the current players blossom and any of the rookies they should draft blossom then they could have a decent line for not too much money going forward.

I used the fanspeak on the clock gm tool to generate this fantasy ...

Salary Cap: 166,000,000
Player Salaries: 144,244,531
Dead Money: 2,816,410
Carryover: 465,794
Reserved for Draft Picks: 5,000,000
Cap Space Remaining: 14,404,853

Name     Position
Charles Johnson WR
Adrian Peterson RB
Brian Robison EDGE
Brandon Fusco G
Emmanuel Lamur LB
Sharrif Floyd DL
Jarius Wright WR

Salary Cap: 166,000,000
Player Salaries: 104,657,531
Dead Money: 2,816,410
Carryover: 465,794
Reserved for Draft Picks: 5,000,000
Cap Space Remaining: 53,991,853

edit: I did not include a Robison restructure to 2.3 mil for one year

JC Tretter (C) accepted your 6 year offer for $7,000,000 per year
Austin Pasztor (OT) accepted your 3 year offer for $4,250,000 per year
Robert Woods (WR) accepted your 4 year offer for $4,250,000 per year
Abry Jones (DL) accepted your 4 year offer for $3,500,000 per year
Nick Fairley (DL) accepted your 4 year offer for $5,500,000 per year
Zach Brown (LB) accepted your 3 year offer for $5,750,000 per year
Darryl Morris (CB) accepted your 3 year offer for $3,250,000 per year
Barry Church (S) accepted your 4 year offer for $6,500,000 per year

Salary Cap: 166,000,000
Player Salaries: 132,270,031
Dead Money: 2,816,410
Carryover: 465,794
Reserved for Draft Picks: 5,000,000
Cap Space Remaining: 26,379,353

There is room here to sign some of the lower priced free agents like Zach Line, Audie Cole, Rhett Ellison, etc.  But I did not.












Depth Chart

QB - Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, Taylor Heinicke
RB - Jerrick McKinnon, Alvin Kamara, Deveon Smith, CJ Ham, Bishop Sankey
FB - ??
WR - Stephon Diggs, Curtis Samuel, Cayleb Jones
WR - Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Moritz Boehringer
WR - Robert Woods, Taywan Taylor
TE - Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan, David Njoku, Kyle Carter
LT - Forrest Lamp, Rashod Hill, Antonio Garcia
LG - Alex Boone, TJ Clemmings, Zac Kerin
OC - JC Tretter, Joe Berger, Nick Easton
RG - Jeremiah Sirles, Willie Beavers
RT - Austin Pasztor, Reid Fragel, Marquis Lucas

DE - Everson Griffen, Stephen Weatherley, Keionta Davis, Sterling Bailey
DT - Linval Joseph, Abry Jones, Toby Johnson, BJ Dubose
DT - Nick Fairley, Shamar Stephen, Tom Johnson
DE - Danielle Hunter, Brian Robison, Scott Crichton
SLB - Anthony Barr, Edmund Robinson
MLB - Eric Kendricks, Kentrell Brothers
WLB - Zach Brown, Jaylen Reeves-Maybin
LCB - Trae Waynes, Fabian Moreau
RCB - Xavier Rhodes, Darryl Morris, Tre Roberson
SCB - Mackenzie Alexander, Marcus Sherels, Jabari Price
SS - Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris, Antone Exum
FS - Barry Church, Andrew Sendejo, Jayron Kearse, Cedric Thompson

LS - Kevin McDermott
PK - Kai Forbath, Marshall Koehn
P  - Taylor Symmank

Well, it is a lot to consider and I am preparing for the worst and hoping for the best!

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