NFL Free Agency: 4 Moves the Minnesota Vikings Didn't Make That Will Haunt Them
Instead, GM Rick Spielman decided it was in the team's best interest to sit tight and build primarily through the draft. Ideally, this strategy is best in the long run.
However, with a new stadium plan struggling to gain traction with a pessimistic fanbase, this year was certainly not the time to get cheap.
The Vikings cut veterans Anthony Herrera, Steve Hutchinson and Cedric Griffin in an effort to get younger and clear up more cap space. Many fans have been disappointed to see that extra cap space yet to be used.
Clearly a team with as many holes as the Vikings have should not have broke the bank for multiple players. But, it is not unreasonable to think they could have signed at least four to five starters after free agency began.
The following is a list of four affordable free agents the Minnesota Vikings will regret not signing this offseason.
WR Pierre Garcon
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Instead of matching the five-year, $42.5 million deal with $21.5 million guaranteed that the Washington Redskins gave Garcon, the Vikings decided to sign TE John Carlson to a five-year, $25 million deal.
Garcon is coming off a season in which he hauled in 70 catches for 947 yards and six touchdowns. Carlson is coming off a season in which he did not play a down after suffering a torn labrum. Keep in mind Garcon also had Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter throwing him footballs.
Now, I am not saying I do not like the Carlson signing, but Rick Spielman cannot honestly believe Garcon is not $2 million more valuable than Carlson. The Vikings needed a legitimate No. 1 receiver and failed to deliver one for QB Christian Ponder.
Garcon is primed to have a breakout season in Washington, and although I admit his price tag was a bit higher than I expected, he would have been worth it to the team and the fanbase.
MLB Curtis Lofton
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The Vikings made it clear going into the offseason that they wanted to get younger, meaning players like MLB E.J. Henderson would not be coming back.
The team seems comfortable with the idea of letting fourth-year player Jasper Brinkley man the middle of their defense in 2012 and beyond. Although I am a fan of Jasper's, I simply cannot look past the Vikings passing on former Falcons MLB.
Lofton is just 25 years old and coming off three consecutive 100-plus-tackle seasons. Brinkley is a year older and coming off hip surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2011 season.
When free agency started, I was hesitant of signing a player of Lofton's caliber because he was rumored to want a deal in the $8 million per season range.
However, after finding out the New Orleans Saints signed the stud MLB to a five-year, $27.5 million deal with just $7.8 million guaranteed, my jaw nearly hit the floor. His age and production make him possibly the biggest bargain of 2012.
Lofton would have solidified the core of the Vikings defense for the next five years and provided invaluable leadership both on and off the field.
CB Richard Marshall
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Looking for a guy who is tailor-made to play in the Vikings' zone-based scheme? Looking for a CB who is not afraid to mix it up in the run game? Look no further than former Cardinals' CB Richard Marshall.
After struggling to get up to speed with the Cardinals' defensive scheme due to a lack of offseason workouts in 2011, Marshall took off in the second half of the season, grading positively against both the run and pass in five of his final six games according to Pro Football Focus.
Marshall signed a three-year, $16 million deal with the Miami Dolphins that included $6 million in guarantees. The 27-year-old still has the best years of his career coming up and is versatile enough to play CB, nickelback and safety.
Adding Marshall would have filled in one of the Vikings' biggest holes at CB. He could have teamed with Chris Cook to make an imposing duo, with enough size and ability to slow down star NFC North WRs Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall.
S Brodney Pool
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Twenty-seven-year-old Brodney Pool is coming off a disappointing 2011 campaign in which he posted the worst numbers of his career since his rookie season in 2005.
That enabled the Dallas Cowboys to sign Pool to a measly one-year, $1.2 million contract. At 6'2", 214 lbs, Pool has great size and surprising athleticism that allows him to excel playing in deep coverage.
A player with Pool's talents would fit great with the Vikings' Tampa 2 system. He's not a great tackler, but for his price, you cannot possibly ask for more production.
If the Vikings would have been able to sign Pool, they could have solidified what is possibly their biggest position of need, as they currently have only three safeties on their roster. Adding a starting-caliber player for less than $2 million a season is always a smart move in the NFL.
I would not be surprised to see Pool excel while playing in deep coverage with Dallas. He was a great bargain signing and could have helped the Vikings for the next few years.