Most Vikings fans share a frustration that their team is doing little in free agency to improve as a football team. And some of you may wonder if there is anyone left in free agency at this point that Minnesota could sign to provide some solid depth or perhaps even start for the Vikings next season.
The short answer to both concerns are: you're right, they haven't done diddly, and unfortunately there are very few players left worth signing. But there are a few that could help us next season, and here they are.
Ken Lucas, cornerback of the Carolina Panthers could be the starter opposite Antoine Winfield, which would allow Cedric Griffin to move over to nickel corner or even free safety, where he probably belongs. Lucas is 30 years old but brings a wealth of knowledge, skills, and big game experience which we lack in the secondary now.
A less expensive and less experienced option could be Chris Carr, who spent last season with the Titans after two seasons with the Raiders. Carr hasn't had much time playing in the secondary yet but he led the NFL in kick returns and yardage in his two seasons in Oakland. The Vikings could certainly use the return ability even if they stand pat at corner for next season.
The early season injury to E.J. Henderson really hurt the Vikings last season, as they were forced to try and replace Henderson with a player they had previously dumped (Napolean Harris). Harris served admirably but I'm sure all Vikings fans are looking forward to Henderson's return this season. So what happens if any of our other LB's miss significant playing time after being healthy for so long?
Why not add some insurance and possibly improve at the starting position with the addition of Cato June (Bucs) or Freddie Keiaho (Colts). Both are very good Tampa-2 OLB's with athleticism and fire, and both are under 30 years old, being 29 and 26 respectively. Both also played for the Colts when our current defensive coordinator was on their staff. Perhaps Leslie Frazier is dropping some hints. Then again, perhaps he's dropping some hints and being completely ignored.
That brings us to the gaping hole that Ryan Cook has stood straddling for the past couple of seasons, when he wasn't falling backwards into it. Right tackle is probably the Vikings biggest sore spot right now and we almost certainly have to draft an offensive tackle in the first two rounds this April. But adding a veteran to ease that rookie into the lineup or just to add competent depth would be a sound move for a team with money to spend anyway. Unfortunately, the only real option besides Orlando Pace was Khalif Barnes, who signed with the Chiefs while I was writing this article. Crap!
Okay, now that we know we absolutely must draft an offensive tackle if we are to be spared the horrible Ryan Cook again, at least we know what we're dealing with right? Signing Pace would be very expensive and I wonder if McKinnie could make the move over to right tackle to accommodate him. We may never know.
So there it is. Free agency remains a mixed bag of players not signed and players not even pursued. What remains to be seen is whether or not the Vikings will make any moves at all and whether there will be anyone worth signing anyway.
I'm looking forward to the draft already.