Minnesota Vikings Offseason Wish List: 8 Free Agents Vikes Should Target in 2012
This upcoming offseason has a nice list of free agents, and the Minnesota Vikings must be serious players on a few if they want to contend in 2012.
Everything from offensive line to secondary needs to be analyzed and evaluated in detail, so when the big day in March comes along, new GM Rick Spielman will have a game plan in place.
Spielman’s game plan should include taking a long look at each of these players on this list and signing two or three of them, if not more.
Aside from Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed, LaRon Landry is widely regarded as the best safety in the league.
Landry was having a stellar year but ended up finishing the final eight games of the 2011 season on IR with an Achilles’ tendon injury, which happens to be how he ended the 2010 season.
The injury should be completely healed by the start of next season and should not be of any real concern when teams start vying for his services.
He will command something in the area of $7-8 million per year which will put him up there with the highest-paid safeties in the league, but he is going to be worth it.
His ability to come in and give this secondary instant credibility and stability makes him worth the steep price tag, not to mention the Vikings front office won’t find a guy like this in the 2012 draft.
Other than the services of Darren Sharper for a few seasons, the Vikings have struggled mightily at the safety position over the past several years, and they haven’t had a prolific run-stopping safety since the days of Robert Griffith.
The time for a change is now, and it could start with Landry.
Where do I start with the Vikings offensive-line troubles?
One could dedicate a whole article to the o-line issues the Vikings are currently experiencing, but that’s another story for another time.
Getting Carl Nicks on the interior of that line would immediately correct some issues with pass protection.
The Vikes inked center John Sullivan to a five-year extension which is a good start, but so much more needs to be done.
By signing the two-time Pro Bowl selection, Sullivan would be sandwiched between one of the best young guards in the league and one of the best guards to play the game in the last 20 years (Steve Hutchinson).
It would also allow for the Vikings to have a replacement at LG when Hutch decides to retire.
Signing Nicks and hopefully having OT Matt Kalil fall to the Vikes at No. 3 would be monumental in getting this offense back in the right direction.
If the Vikings lose out on Carl Nicks, or if they for some reason decide not to go after Nicks, they better take a long, hard look at bringing in Ben Grubbs.
Grubbs is the second-best guard in free agency this year and is a big reason for the Baltimore Ravens' success on the ground.
It’s no secret that the Vikes have serious issues on the offensive interior, so getting either Nicks or Grubbs is an absolute necessity this offseason.
Position: Wide Receiver
Percy Harvin is the only receiving threat the Vikings have, and he simply can’t do it alone.
Laurent Robinson had an incredibly nice season in his first year with the Dallas Cowboys—hauling in 11 TDs and 858 yards on 54 catches.
Bringing Robinson in would immediately give Harvin a compliment on the opposite side and also give Christian Ponder a much needed second option, allowing for defenses to focus on someone other than Harvin.
A lot is being made of the possibility of the Vikings taking Justin Blackmon, if he’s there, with the third pick. While it would be nice to have a young stud WR like that, drafting a LT is a higher priority right now.
If new Vikings GM Rick Spielman wants to show that he knows what he’s doing, he’d take this route in fixing the offense.
Position: Wide Receiver
Pierre Garcon may be in line for a nice payday to stay with the Indianapolis Colts, so he may not be someone the Vikings would seriously consider; however, if they can get him at the right price, they better pull the trigger.
He piled up 947 yards and six touchdowns with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky at quarterback.
He, just like Laurent Robinson, would make a great compliment to Percy Harvin and give Christian Ponder another excellent target to throw to.
While Brandon Carr is no Champ Bailey or Darrell Revis, he is a solid corner who is good against the run—built in that Antoine Winfield mold—and is a measurable upgrade from anything the Vikings have right now.
Winfield is still decent, but he’s long in the tooth and has been losing steps over the past two or three seasons.
Winfield would make a better safety right now with his football intelligence. Wouldn’t he be a great duo with LaRon Landry? (I’m getting pumped just thinking about it.)
There’s no telling what will come of Chris Cook, and Cedric Griffin is obviously a shell of his former self—that’s what two reconstructed knees will do to a guy.
With those issues at the forefront, bringing in a guy like Carr could be a step in the right direction.
Position: Middle Linebacker
E.J. Henderson didn’t have the pro-bowl caliber type of season we're used to seeing from him, but he did still have a decent year.
He’s up there in age and has lost a step, but he’s a smart football player with great instincts, and that can make up for speed at times.
There really isn’t anything out on the market worth replacing him with and the Vikings don't seem to have a capable backup to him, so it makes sense to bring back a guy who knows the system and can be a vocal and emotional leader on the defensive side of the ball.
Position: Tight End
Visanthe Shiancoe saw his numbers take a hit this year. His three touchdowns and 409 yards are a far cry from his 2009 season when he posted 11 scores.
A lot of things have contributed to this, not all of which can be put on his shoulders.
The learning curve of a rookie quarterback and a weak offensive line are contributing factors to his lack of production as well.
However, bringing him back would give Christian Ponder that security blanket that all QBs love to have.
Not to mention, he and Kyle Rudolph make a nice pair of pass-catching tight ends that can stretch the field of play, making it tough for defenses to key in on one guy.