Everyone has their ideas about what the Minnesota Vikings should do this offseason, and that includes ESPN NFL expert Bill Barnwell. Barnwell has made five suggestions that each NFC team should follow to have a successful offseason, and since Vikings’ news is a bit on the scarce side right now, let’s take a look at what he’s got to say and whether yours truly agrees or disagrees with them.
We’ll combine his first two suggestions, because they follow a theme that our readers seem to be in tune with. When we asked a couple of weeks ago, you folks said that if the Vikings had the choice, they should prioritize keeping defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson over linebacker Anthony Barr in their efforts to keep one of them from reaching free agency. Barnwell thinks that both players would get contracts in the $10 million/year range, and that the market for Barr is going to be interesting because he’s doesn’t really have the sort of pass rushing numbers that you’d associate with a highly-paid player at that position.
As I said in the previous piece on this, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barr went out and found a situation that will allow him to rush the passer more, whether it’s as a 3-4 outside linebacker or a 4-3 scheme that’s simply going to utilize his blitz skills more frequently. Either way, I’d be pretty surprised if Barr was back with Minnesota in 2019.
Barnwell also suggests re-working the contract of defensive end Everson Griffen, given that he’s going to be a $10 million cap hit this coming season if nothing changes. I think a lot of folks have been angling for this, and it’s tough to disagree with. If Griffen isn’t willing to re-do his deal, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get released, as sad as that might be for fans like us.
The next suggestion is the big one, which is “re-working the offensive line. . .again.” While I think that we can all agree that this is the most obvious thing the Vikings need to do this offseason, but I’m not sure that I agree with
Barnwell’s primary suggestion, which involves moving Riley Reiff to left guard one of Barnwell’s potential fixes, which would involve drafting a tackle at #18 and moving Riley Reiff to guard.
(UPDATE: To clarify, Barnwell did not suggest that the Vikings move Reiff to guard, as my original statement suggested. He merely said that the drafting of a tackle at #18 and moving Reiff to guard was a possibility. My apologies to Mr. Barnwell for the error on my part. -Chris)
First off, if you move Reiff. . .who has no incentive to restructure his contract at this point. . .to left guard, he immediately becomes the second-highest paid left guard in the league (in terms of cap hit) at a position that he’s never played. This doesn’t seem like an optimal solution to me.
The other aspect of this is continuity. The Vikings’ offensive line to start 2017 looked like this:
Riley Reiff - Nick Easton - Pat Elflein - Joe Berger - Mike Remmers
The line to start the 2018 season looked like this:
Reiff - Tom Compton - Brett Jones - Remmers - Rashod Hill
The Vikings have tried the “musical chairs” approach on the offensive line before, and it hasn’t worked. Frankly, I think this team needs as much stability at this spot at possible. That means keeping Reiff at left tackle, Elflein at center (after an offseason that he won’t have to spend rehabbing) and Brian O’Neill at right tackle.
The need for the Vikings is at guard. Draft guys to play guard, and then play them at guard. Don’t keep moving this guy here and that guy there and whatever. Don’t make fixing the problem more difficult than it needs to be.
Barnwell also says that the Vikings need to “explore the market” for trading cornerback Trae Waynes. Now, I’m sure that Waynes would be an attractive trade target for a lot of teams, and he’s going into the fifth-year option season of his rookie deal. While some have suggested looking to trade Xavier Rhodes, Waynes would probably be a bit more attractive, given the fact that Waynes is younger and he doesn’t have a brush with death seemingly every week. But, I think that Mike Zimmer would rather lose an appendage than lose a cornerback, and we don’t know how the recovery of Mike Hughes is going to go. I think the Vikings might explore the market, as Barnwell suggests, but I’d be kind of surprised if anything materialized from it.
The last suggestion is to find a third receiving option to replace Laquon Treadwell. I think we can all reasonably assume that the Treadwell era in Minnesota is rapidly approaching its conclusion. He’d still be a net loss on the Vikings’ cap space if they were to flat-out release him, and I can’t imagine there would be a big trade market for him, unless a team was willing to part with a late-round pick on draft day. But, as we’ve said in some of our mock drafts, the team does need to find a third option to take some heat off of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, whether that option comes from the draft or in free agency.
Do you agree with Bill Barnwell’s suggestions for the Vikings’ offseason, folks?