Minnesota Vikings: Jerome Felton Is the Team's Top Offensive Free Agent

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 10: Jerome Jerome Felton #42 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball in pre-game warmups before an NFL pre-season football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on August 10, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 17-6. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The season is officially over for the Minnesota Vikings, so they can turn their attention to trying to sign the 17 free agents they have.

They should start by signing Jerome Felton.

Felton was the fifth overall ranked fullback by Pro Football Focus, but the second-highest graded blocker (with over 400 snaps, also Premium Stat).

In other words, he's very, very good at what he does.

Yes, I recognize that Jerome Simpson, Phil Loadholt and Geoff Schwartz are free agents and are probably on the top of the list to be retained (Schwartz the lowest, given he looked really replaceable at times).

However Felton should be bumped ahead of them all.

In a league that has largely moved away from utilizing fullbacks at all, Felton reminded us why sometimes they are vital to an offense.

Sure, Adrian Peterson prefers to run solo out of the backfield, but there were plenty of times this season that holes were opened and would-be tacklers were laid out by Felton.

It cannot be overstated how important his work was to Peterson's historic season.

That's not to take anything away from Peterson, at all. What he did is almost impossible to wrap your head around.

But as any good running back will tell you, he had help along the way and Felton was a big part of that.

Felton cleared out incoming blitzers at times as well. He protected Ponder quite often as well.

All this for a guy that, I'll be honest, I wasn't sure would make the team after his summer DUI.

Yet, next to Peterson, I'm not sure who else on the offensive side of the ball has had a better season, or a greater impact.

Fullbacks don't get the big bucks and they don't normally get the headlines. Those go to the running backs.

Felton was one of the big reasons the Vikings made the playoffs and Peterson had his season.

There has to be a way to keep him in house and one of the first things the team should do is find it.

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