Minnesota Vikings Need To Make Moves in the Offseason
The Vikings need to improve. It’s as simple as that. A 10-6 record for a team with this level of talent in this division is unacceptable.
Yes, they won the division last year (thank you Ryan Longwell), but that’s not good enough.
I want playoff victories.
I want a Super Bowl.
We all know that the quarterback situation is far from solid and that our coach’s play-calling and clock management border on asinine, but we also have a handful of other areas where we need to improve.
Lions and Packers and Bears, oh my! The NFC North is going to be stronger than it was last year!
Aaron Rodgers has a full year under his belt as the Packers starter and is sure to become a top 10 quarterback in the league soon, if not immediately.
The Bears have a solid running back in Matt Forte and surprised a lot of people with how close they came to a division title last year (Thank God we stole Bernard Berrian from them).
The Lions…well, they can’t get any worse. Literally. Knowing them, they’ll probably draft some underclassman receiver over Matt Stafford.
Bottom line: I’m not too worried about them (although, they did give us two of our toughest/ugliest games of the season in ’08).
Some positions (other than quarterback) the Vikings need to take a look at for next season:
1. Right Tackle
Anthony Herrera and Ryan Cook are serviceable, but their ceilings leave much to be desired. Jordan Gross would have been ideal, but the Panthers locked him up with a big deal. Vernon Carey, among others, would be nice, but I don’t really see the Vikings overpaying for someone who isn’t at the elite level, such as Gross. The first or second round in the draft is probably where the Vikes should look at this point in time.
Antoine Winfield had a Pro Bowl season last year, but he is getting old. He’s in a contract year and will surely play hard, as usual, but after about age 30 or 31 a cornerback's production usually falls precipitously.
If we could get an established upper-echelon cornerback via free agency or trade that would be nice, but I look for the Purple to address this need in the early to middle rounds of the draft.
If we could somehow get someone on the other side of Antoine and move a vastly improved Cedric Griffin down to the third cornerback position on our depth chart, we’d have a very solid secondary. It would include safeties Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson, who had a promising rookie campaign.
3. Wide Receiver
The receiving corps of Berrian, Wade, and Rice doesn’t immediately raise an incredibly high level of worry for me, especially with Adrian and Chester, but it could definitely use an improvement.
TJ Houshyomamma said on ESPN that he would love to play with Adrian, but his asking price of over $10 million is probably a bit high for a team that threw truckloads of money at Bernard Berrian last year. This would be a big one, but with the guys we have at quarterback, how big of a difference would two prime time receivers really make?
Nate Washington is another name floating around out there, and his agent confirmed that the Vikings are among the teams that have shown interest. He wants $7 million guaranteed, which is relatively reasonable, and he would definitely stretch the field even more than it already is with Bernard/AP.
The draft is also a possibility for this position. A smaller, quicker player such as Percy Harvin could help immediately in the return game and rack up lots of YAC, but an injury-prone, undersized WR in the first round doesn’t exactly tickle my fancy.
If a Hakeem Nicks, big-bodied, soft-handed, possession-type receiver slipped to us in the second round, I would definitely jump on that opportunity.
Matt Birk, in all likelihood, is gone.
His relationship with Chilly was chilly, to say the least, and he’s most likely going to look for a fresh start, possibly in St. Louis. John Sullivan is getting good reviews out of the Vikings camp, but might still be a little young and raw to center a veteran line.
Jeff Saturday of the Colts is floating out there and would be a veteran presence with a proven track record.
5. Tight End
I like how Visanthe Shiancoe continued to improve throughout the year last year. He exposed (pun intended) the middle of defenses that cheated out too wide on Bernard or up too far on Adrian.
As far as Jim Kleinsasser goes, I think he’ll be back.
I know he’s a free agent and getting older, but he is an absolute beast. He is one of the best run-blockers in the league and showed he can still haul in some meaningful catches when you need him to. He’s a lifelong Midwest boy and his roots run deep in Minnesota. I could be completely wrong, but I have a hunch.
If we lose him, look for young’n Garrett Mills to catch a substantial amount of passes next year.
6. Defensive Tackle
Kevin and Pat Williams head to court this summer to determine whether they’ll have to sit for the first four games of next season. To me, whether they win or lose the legal battle is irrelevant.
We need another solid body in there that can help out if they’re hurt/out for other reasons. Fat Pat is getting old and Kevin can’t take all of the pressure of the interior line.
The draft will be a good way to bring some young guys in to groom for the future. We see the premium NFL teams put on the defensive tackle position with Albert Haynesworth signing for $100 million in Washington.
Obviously, you can always improve at almost every position, whether it’s the starting role or farther down the depth chart. We’ll have to wait and see what the big shots over at Winter Park have up their sleeve this offseason.
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