We all know that the decision that the Minnesota Vikings make with their current quarterback situation is going to be the biggest story of this offseason, and the one that shapes how they do everything else. However, the Vikings have some in-house free agents to make decisions on before free agency kicks off on 12 March.
Yeah, we’re only about seven weeks away from the start of NFL free agency. Time flies, eh?
Let’s take a look at who Rick Spielman and company are going to have to make these choices about, shall we?
Jerick McKinnon, RB - McKinnon had a fairly decent season for the Vikings this year, both running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield. When asked about his future earlier this week, he had this to say:
“I think I’ve shown my worth,’’ McKinnon said Monday, the day after Minnesota’s 38-7 loss at Philadelphia in the NFC championship game. “We’ll see what happens.’’
. . .
“I definitely wouldn’t mind being back,’’ said McKinnon, who rushed for a career-high 570 yards and had career bests of 51 catches for 421 yards. “I love the guys in this locker room. I love my teammates. At the same time, I have to do what’s best for me.’’
I wouldn’t be surprised to see McKinnon move on to a spot where he feels that he could potentially be a featured back. With Dalvin Cook set to return for the 2018 season, that spot isn’t going to be Minnesota. If his market isn’t quite what he thinks it is, he could be back, but I’d be surprised.
Joe Berger, RG - All indications to this point are that Berger is leaning very heavily towards retirement. This has been the speculation for quite a while, and I’d be surprised if the end result was anything different.
Nick Easton, LG - Easton suffered a pretty nasty ankle injury that finished his season in Week 16 in Green Bay. He was thought to be the member of the o-line the team would miss the least if he was lost, but make no mistake. . .he was still missed. I think the Vikings would like to upgrade from Easton, but he’s certainly someone they could keep around for depth.
Jeremiah Sirles, OL - Sirles has played multiple positions along the line in both starting and reserve roles. I could see him coming back, too, and a relatively cheap salary.
(Note: Easton and Sirles are both restricted free agents as opposed to unrestricted free agents. That would probably limit what it would cost to bring them back, which could help the Vikings a bit.)
Michael Floyd, WR - Yes, we got our kombucha jokes during the preseason, but whatever hopes or expectations the Vikings had for Floyd coming into the year, it’s hard to imagine that he lived up to them. I’d be surprised to see him back again.
Bishop Sankey, RB - Got hurt in preseason and went in injured reserve. Can’t see the Vikings bringing him back.
Terence Newman, CB - Last offseason, Newman said that he was coming back for one more go at the age of 39. He’ll be 40 going into the 2018 season, and if he wants to come back, I’m sure Mike Zimmer would bring him back. Does he want to? Nobody knows. But, if he does, we’ll have the same questions we had last year about his age and whether or not Father Time is finally going to catch up to him.
Sebastian Thunderbucket Tom Johnson, DT - Of the Vikings’ 11 listed starters on the defensive side of the ball, Johnson is the only impending free agent. He’s reinvented himself a bit as the full-time starter after a few seasons as a pass rushing specialist, but he’s going to be 34 years old going into next year. I think the Vikings would like to see Jaleel Johnson have a bigger role in the defense next year, and could draft some depth on the interior again. We’ll have to see whether or not Johnson comes back next season.
Shamar Stephen, DT - Stephen also suffered an injury that kept him out of the NFC Championship Game. For a seventh-round pick, he’s done a pretty solid job as a rotational guy. Is that going to be enough for the Vikings to bring him back?
Emmanuel Lamur, LB - As long as Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are around, there aren’t going to be a lot of snaps available at the linebacker position on defense. Lamur has shown himself to be a fairly capable fill-in in short doses and a solid special teamer, but is that enough?
Tramaine Brock, CB - Meh. That just about sums it up.
Brian Robison, DE - I’m putting Robison on here because he’s not a free agent, but there has been some speculation that he could be ready to hang up his cleats, too. He’s the longest-tenured member of the Vikings, and still has one year left on his current contract. He had a greatly reduced role in 2017, and that would likely be the case again in 2018. Nobody knows whether he’s coming back, but hopefully there will be some sort of a decision soon.
Kai Forbath, K - Forbath has done a solid job for the Vikings on field goals, and towards the end of the season appeared to shake his extra point issues. He’s said he’d like to be back, but kickers have so much variance from one season to the next that it’s tough to tell what the majority of teams might do.
Marcus Sherels, KR/PR - You project the guy to not come back to Minnesota. I’m damn sure not going to.
Jeff Overbaugh, LS - Did a decent enough job filling in at the end of the season, but this is Kevin McDermott’s job. He’ll be ready to go for next season. Maybe Overbaugh did enough with the Vikings to catch on somewhere else.
At this point, it doesn’t appear that there are a lot of huge impending losses for this team in free agency on either side of the ball. They’ll be sitting on plenty of salary cap space (approximately $57 million, according to the folks from Over the Cap), and even though they have some extensions to potentially take care of (Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, Stefon Diggs), they should be able to patch the few holes this roster has and make a run at things again in 2018.