The Vikings enter into this off season with one major critical decision to make. Who will be the starting QB in 2018? We all know there are three QBs on the roster who will be free agents in March. Will they choose one on the roster or will they look outside the organization? You would think they need to hire an offensive coordinator and QB coach before they make the QB decision. They have several in house free agents who they need to decide if they want to offer extensions too.
Here is an interesting article that discusses the importance of the offensive coordinator hire ...
... if they do not hire someone that a particular likes then it could limit them in terms of finding a QB outside the organization if that is what they want to do.
I will not go into which offensive coordinator will be the best fit for any of the current QBs or any potential free agents. I will not even try to talk about the Erhardt Perkins offensive system or any other systems. I am not smart enough. I personally think that most coordinators are aware of the many different offensive systems and have plays from most of them in their playbooks.
So, let’s get to the QB decision.
I think Drew Brees is not going to hit the open market. He wants to stay and they want him. Their team is built to contend for at least a couple of more years and they could draft a QB at #27 or even do something crazy and trade up from #27 to #10 for example and select Baker Mayfield if he is available. Last year the Chiefs traded up from #27 to #10 giving the Bills their 1st and 3rd in 2017 plus their 2018 1st.
I think Kirk Cousins could is now a serious candidate because the Redskins are going to trade for Alex Smith. There will be competition from other teams with the Browns, Jets, and Broncos being top candidates. The Browns have 111 mil in cap space and could give him a monster deal where a lot of the money is payable in the first year. But Cousins said he wants to win. Going to the winless Browns will put that to the test. If the Jaguars move on from Bortles then they could enter the mix but I think they will keep Bortles. The Vikings should be a team that is very very intriguing to Cousins and he should intrigue the vikings too.
Of the in house candidates, I could see the Vikings going with any of the three.
My dream would be to get Cousins. I think Bradford is too risky and no one knows when his knee will start to act up again. I think Teddy is obviously a possibility but he is a total unknown after that injury. It is unfortunate but I would not want to risk my career as a GM on having him as my starter unless I had someone that I wanted to take over in a year or two. And no, Kyle Sloter is not that QB. Sloter has way too much to learn about NFL defenses before he will be effective in real NFL games. He has a lot to learn and that is why it is OK to have him as the #3 QB for a couple of more years.
Next, an offensive guard is likely going to be needed because Berger might retire and he turns 36 in May. Andrew Norwell is the best available but he is going to cost 11 mil or more. Some team will give him that much. I do not think the Panters can afford it and I am not sure the Vikings should try. If not Norwell then maybe Josh Kline or Justin Pugh. I think that the Titans have enough space to sign Kline. Another player that might be intriguing is Jack Mewhort. But the Colts have 84 mil in cap space and signing him to a reasonable deal is something they can afford. There will be tons of competition for Norwell but the Vikings do have the success of the team and the really strong chances that they remain good. I think the Vikings will look to the draft to get a guard or wait to get a bargain later in free agency.
Next, a defensive tackle is going to be needed since Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen are free agents. They could re-sign both and make the necessity to sign a high priced free agent unnecessary. But Tom Johnson turns 34 August 30th. Perhaps a player like Sheldon Richardson or Dontari Poe would be worth a significant investment? Richardson will cost north of 10 mil while Poe might cost around 7 mil. But is Poe too similar to Jospeh and too expensive to be a backup? The draft could provide another defensive tackle to develop and the Vikings have a couple of practice squad tackles in Dylan Bradley and Caushaud Lyons.
Next, a corner is going to be needed because Newman could retire and Brock really was a non factor this year. Alexander is still developing and hopefully takes another step next year. A lot of risk involved keeping the status quo and any mid round draft pick may have a tough time making the team. Some free agents that might be a fit are Patrick Robinson, Aaron Colvin, and Ross Cockrell. I think Robinson will be looking for 7 mil or more and a starting spot and Colvin could be a reflection of the pass rush fron the defensive line of the Jags.
I think the rest of the spots will be depth and a kicker. Forbath is good enough for me although I would not mind them drafting Daniel Carlson.
The Fearless Leader has a story here about the in-house free agents here but I would only sign a couple of them before free agency but would not mind if they all went out and tested the market before possibly coming back to see if the Vikings would match.
So the plan is this ...
We start off with 64 mil in cap space with the assumption that Floyd will be cut.
Sign Kirk Cousins QB to a 6 year 156 mil deal with a 24 mil signing bonus, 80 mil guaranteed, salaries of 16, 20, 20, 25, 25, & 26 mil, and workout bonuses of 100k every year. His cap hits would be 20.1, 24.1, 24.1, 29.1, 29.1, & 30.1 mil. After the 3rd year they could cut him and take a 12 mil dead money cap hit but save 13 mil in cap space.
Sign Justin Pugh OG to a 5 year 40 mil deal with a 8 mil signing bonus, 19 mil guaranteed, salaries of 4, 7, 8, 7, & 6 mil, and workout bonuses of 100k every year. His cap hits would be 5.7, 8.7, 9.7, 8.7, & 7.7 mil. I think he could be the right tackle and Remmers could play guard or visa versa.
Sign Beau Allen DT to a 3 year 9 mil deal with a 1.5 mil signing bonus, 6 mil guaranteed, salaries of 2, 2.5, & 3 mil, and workout bonuses of 100k every year. His cap hits would be 2.6, 3.1, & 3.6 mil.
Sign Ross Cockrell CB to a 2 year 6 mil deal with a 1 mil signing bonus, 3 mil guaranteed, salaries of 2.5 & 2.3 mil, and workout bonuses of 100k every year. His cap hits would be 3.1 & 3.1 mil.
Sign Brent Urban DE/DT to a 2 year 5.5 mil deal with a 500K signing bonus, 3 mil guaranteed, salaries of 2.5 & 2.5 mil, and workout bonuses of 100k every year. His cap hits would be 2.85 & 2.85 mil.
Sign Nick Easton to a 2 year 4 mil deal & Jeremiah Sirles to a 1 year 900K deal.
The rest of the in house free agents I would let test the market and then possibly circle back on minimum deals if agreeable.
After these signings the total cap used would be about 37 mil leaving 27 mil leftover to use to extend Hunter, Diggs, Kendricks, and possibly Barr.
In the draft, I used the fanspeak Manage The Cap tool and I would do this ...
SENT: ROUND: 3 PICK: 30
RECEIVED: ROUND: 3 PICK: 36 & ROUND: 5 PICK: 26
SENT: FUTURE ROUND 4 PICK & ROUND: 6 PICK: 40
RECEIVED: ROUND: 5 PICK: 4 & ROUND: 7 PICK: 8
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
SENT: ROUND: 5 PICK: 26 & ROUND: 6 PICK: 30
RECEIVED: ROUND: 5 PICK: 10 & ROUND: 7 PICK: 27
GREEN BAY PACKERS
SENT: ROUND: 7 PICK: 27 & FUTURE ROUND 5 PICK
RECEIVED: ROUND: 5 PICK: 34
30: R1P30 OT CONNOR WILLIAMS TEXAS
62: R2P30 LB TREMAINE EDMUNDS VIRGINIA TECH
100: R3P36 WR DANTE PETTIS WASHINGTON
143: R5P4 CB MIKE HUGHES UCF
149: R5P10 QB KYLE LAULETTA RICHMOND
169: R5P30 DL NATHAN SHEPHERD FORT HAYS STATE
173: R5P34 K DANIEL CARLSON AUBURN
214: R6P37 G WYATT TELLER VIRGINIA TECH
226: R7P8 TE DURHAM SMYTHE NOTRE DAME
I think that if the Vikings could get Williams then they might have a pretty solid line. He would need some development and could bust but the hope is that he works out. The starting offensive line would be Reiff, Remmers, Elflein, Pugh, and Williams. The backups would be Easton, Hill, Isidora, Collins, and Sirles.
Getting Edmunds is a fall back plan in case Barr is asking for too much or if the Vikings decide they do not want to spend too much on linebackers.
Pettis is one of my favorite players and he would be an excellent punt returner if Sherels does not come back (he is not so far in this plan). Even if Sherels did come back Pettis is a very good receiver.
Hughes is a good corner that also returns so the Vikings would be getting return value from both players.
Lauletta would battle it how with Sloter for the #2 or #3 QB spot as I am not sure that in this plan the team would not get a veteran with experience to backup Cousins.
Shepherd is rising up draft boards and another defensive tackle to add to the mix.
Carlson does not need explanation but it would not bother me if they re-signed Forbath or someone else like a Caleb Sturgis.
Teller did well in the Senior Bowl week and is another developmental lineman.
An alternate plan ...
Sign Teddy Bridgewater QB to a 2 year 20 mil deal.Sign Sheldon Richardson DT to a 3 year 30 mil deal.
Sign Justin Pugh OG to a 5 year 40 mil deal.Sign Ross Cockrell CB to a 3 year 12 mil deal. An extra year here.
Sign Todd Davis LB to a 2 year 6 mil deal.Sign Shamar Stephen DT to a 2 year 4 mil deal.
Sign Nick Easton to a 2 year 4 mil deal.Sign Jeremiah Sirles to a 1 year 900K deal.
After these signings the cap used would be about 37 mil as well leaving 27 mil leftover.
In the draft, I used a different board and I would do this ...
SENT: FUTURE ROUND 3 PICK
RECEIVED: ROUND: 3 PICK: 36 & ROUND: 5 PICK: 5
SENT: ROUND: 5 PICK: 30 & ROUND: 6 PICK: 37
RECEIVED: ROUND: 5 PICK: 12 & ROUND: 7 PICK: 23
30: R1P30 QB LAMAR JACKSON LOUISVILLE
62: R2P30 CB MIKE HUGHES CENTRAL FLORIDA
94: R3P30 C FRANK RAGNOW ARKANSAS
100: R3P36 DL TIM SETTLE VIRGINIA TECH
144: R5P5 WR DANTE PETTIS WASHINGTON
151: R5P12 S KAMERON KELLY SAN DIEGO STATE
207: R6P30 LB DARIUS LEONARD SOUTH CAROLINA STATE
217: R6P40 K DANIEL CARLSON AUBURN
241: R7P23 G CODY OCONNELL WASHINGTON STATE
I am not sure the Vikings can get Teddy for 10 mil a year nor do I believe Lamar Jackson will be there at #30. If he is then the phones will be ringing and Spielman is likely to trade out. I wouldn’t myself.
I never can say which one I like the best but I am quite sure most folks wont like either. :)