The Minnesota Vikings are in need of serious free-agent help come the 2013 offseason, and there are a number of enticing players available on the open market.
With the 2012 season winding down, the Vikings' playoff chances are looking dimmer by the day. So they'll need to start looking ahead in order to compete in a very tough NFC North in 2013.
The "Needs Book" on the Vikings is long, but there's no question that Minnesota will want to take a look at bolstering four critical positions—wide receiver, guard, linebacker and defensive tackle—either through the draft or free agency. While it wouldn't be advisable to fill all of these positions through the free agent market, this team's surprising return to relevance this season should encourage the young squad to make effective moves during free agency.
Beyond those four positions, the Vikings may also want to take a look at what's available in the tight end market, if they can safely get rid of John Carlson.
There are a number of good players that nominally fit these positions, but schematic and positional requirements have either moved them around in the rankings or have left them off the list entirely. Free agents Anthony Spencer and Dwight Freeney, for example, are clearly top-of-the-line defenders, but do not fit what the Vikings need in their 4-3 system.
That's not to say that players coming from 3-4 systems are not good fits for the front seven, but two-gap defensive linemen and 3-4 outside linebackers will have limited value for the Vikings.
Organized by value, some players might be placed higher or lower based on age, priority and potential contract demands.
The list starts off by trying to poach a backup from a divisional rival.