When free agency kicks off in a couple of weeks, you can bet that the Minnesota Vikings are going to be in the market for offensive linemen to address their greatest weakness. The purple should have plenty of salary cap room, but how much should they expect to spend on some of the top free agents if they choose to get into a bidding war?
Over behind the great E$PN paywall, John Clayton has five offensive linemen among his top 25 free agents, and he’s projected what he expects each of them to get when they hit the open market.
Clayton’s highest-ranked free agent offensive lineman (#16 overall) is a guy that many have already said the Vikings need to be in on, Cincinnati offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. However, Clayton is only projecting a one-year, $10 million deal for Whitworth, and actually expects him to stay in Cincinnati for the upcoming season.
Whitworth’s teammate, guard Kevin Zeitler, is the next name on the list, and Clayton sees him getting a four-year, $36 million deal. As Clayton points out, Kelechi Osemele got over $11 million/year at the guard spot last season, and while Clayton doesn’t think Zeitler (or anyone else) will approach that level, he sees Zeitler as the best guard in this free agent class.
A couple of guys that Vikings fans are familiar with, Green Bay guard T.J. Lang and Detroit guard Larry Warford, are the next two offensive linemen on the list. Lang is three years older than Warford, so it’s not surprising that Clayton projects him to get a slightly smaller deal. Clayton has Lang slotted for three years and $26.5 million, while he has a four-year, $32 million deal for Warford.
Last, we come to a guy that has been the focus of a lot of Vikings fans over the past week or so, current Baltimore Ravens’ right tackle Ricky Wagner. Clayton says Wagner is the best right tackle available, and expects him to become the highest-paid player at that position in the league with a four-year, $28 million deal.
As things stand right now, the Vikings have around $21 million in salary cap space for the 2017 season, but that’s expected to increase quite a bit over the next couple of weeks depending on some of the moves the team makes in-house. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the purple and gold sign at least one of these players very early on in free agency and start to patch the biggest hole on this roster.