Behind the great E$PN paywall, they recently posted an article about one free agent that each team in the National Football League “must” sign. When it came to the Minnesota Vikings, the position was obvious, and if this particular player does happen to come available in free agency, he could certainly be the answer to a lot of Minnesota’s problems on offense.
The choice for the purple was offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, currently under contract to the Cincinnati Bengals. Here’s what they had to say about him.
There is no more desperate position need in the league than the Vikings' need at tackle, and though their line needs more than one shot fired at it, the Vikings need an immediate solution as well as a long-term plan. Whitworth remains one of the league's most underrated and consistently excellent players, and he finished the Bengals' season with a PFF grade of 92.5 when it comes to pass protection -- the best mark in the league once David Bakhtiari eroded his grade during Green Bay's playoff run. Whitworth allowed 14 total pressures in 2016, while Minnesota's offensive tackles combined to allow 120.
To put those numbers into a little more context, Whitworth allowed about one pressure per game, while Minnesota’s tackles allowed approximately two per quarter.
For most people, the first number that will jump off the page about Whitworth is his age, as he’s 35 years old. However, he’s playing as well as any tackle in the National Football League, and is apparently ready to leave Cincinnati to join a “Super Bowl contender.” While the Vikings might not immediately fall under that category at first blush, bringing Whitworth into the fold would be a pretty solid first step in propelling them towards that status.
Obviously, Whitworth wouldn’t be getting any sort of long-term deal, and I’m sure he realizes that. But he’d be a nice stopgap for a year or two (or three. . .who knows) while the Vikings attempt to groom a suitable replacement for future seasons.
If Whitworth does manage to shake loose into free agency, and it certainly looks as though he is, hopefully Minnesota will be his first stop. It’s not likely or anything, but we can always hope.