5 Free Agents the Minnesota Vikings Should Avoid at All Costs
Instead of taking the typical approach and focusing on players that the Minnesota Vikings should acquire this offseason, I want to take a look at some players that the franchise should completely avoid.
Now, there are plenty of players that could be thrown on this, and there are some pretty common sense cases where it's obvious that interactions with a particular free agent would not go anywhere.
Minnesota has no business pursuing a player looking for significant playing time at the running back or defensive end position. The Vikings are set at those two positions. Thus, a player like Dolphins running back Reggie Bush or Lions defensive end Cliff Avril would fit on this list. But I don't want to waste your time, or mine, by including them in this article.
The purpose of this list is to assess players that members of the fan base or the front office would believe to be a worthwhile pursuit, but in all reality, would actually be a detriment to the team.
I want to focus on free agents at positions of need because those are the places where Minnesota could be expected to devote its resources. Players on this list don't necessarily fit a top need, but they're on this list because Minnesota has legitimate need at these positions in some manner.
Let's dig in.
Donald Driver, WR
Addressing the wide receiver position should be priority No. 1 this offseason, and there is no doubt about that. Minnesota needs to revamp its receiving corps and may only return a player or two at the position.
That means that it's likely that the Vikings will sign two or three free agents at the position in addition to selecting a wide receiver or two in the draft.
With such a strong need, Minnesota may get desperate, and its fans may clamor for a certain former Green Bay Packer—but they shouldn't.
Donald Driver played on a roster with the league's most talented group of wide receivers in 2012. He rarely saw the field, even during a season plagued by injuries to Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
At 37, Driver is well past his prime. He caught eight passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns this past season. As a demonstration of how bad Minnesota's receiving corps was, Driver's two touchdown receptions would have tied him for third most on the team this season. He will turn 38 on Feb. 2, and on his best day, he is only a No. 4 receiver in this league.
Driver should be acquired by a team with a stable receiving corps that simply needs depth. That team isn't Minnesota. The Vikings still need a No. 2 wide receiver, and maybe a No. 1, depending on Percy Harvin, who is scheduled to become a free agent.
Driver is a high-character player who could teach the younger players a thing or two about being a great wide receiver. But what can he bring to the field?
If you want to bring in Driver for his coaching skills then that would be fine, but my bet is that Driver wouldn't go for that. He has said he wants to play until he is 40, and someone may be willing to give him a chance to do that.
Still, that someone shouldn't be Minnesota.
Richard Seymour, DT
Defensive tackle quietly continues to be a big position of need for the Minnesota Vikings.
Letroy Guion shouldn't be a starter, and Kevin Williams, at 32 years old, is coming off the worst season of his career. It's tough to say if Minnesota will pick up its two-year option on Williams, and Guion will be back but with an uncertain role.
So it is obvious that Minnesota will add to its defensive tackle depth in some capacity.
Richard Seymour shouldn't be one of the guys that they bring in.
Seymour, like Williams, is past his prime. He's not as far removed from his best years, but his best days are certainly behind him.
He recorded just three sacks in eight games for the Oakland Raiders this year. He also missed half the season with a hamstring injury and has played in all 16 games just four times in his career. He's 33 years old and will turn 34 in October. Plus, the former New England Patriot hasn't combined to record six sacks and 40 or more tackles since 2008.
He's a big name and will still excite some people, but that is all he is at this point—a name.
If Minnesota wants a name, then the team would be better off picking up the two-year option on Williams. At least he's a familiar face.
Aqib Talib, CB
No one denies the talent that Aqib Talib possesses, but he's just too unpredictable.
He was suspended for four games this past season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, allegedly involving the usage of Adderall.
Also, in 2010, he was suspended for the season opener without pay and fined an additional game's pay check after getting into an altercation with a cab driver in 2009.
The talent is there for Talib to be among the game's best cornerbacks. He'll turn 27 in February and has recorded 15 interceptions in the first three years of his career.
But his numerous off-field issues should worry a Minnesota franchise that has built up a bit of a bad reputation early in the 21st Century with the "Love Boat" scandal, the "Original Whizzinator" (Onterrio Smith), and any number of antics by Randy Moss when he was with the team.
And it's not as if all the off-field issues have passed, either.
Chris Cook was arrested for domestic abuse in 2011, Adrian Peterson got into an altercation with police at a Texas night club last summer, and Percy Harvin feuds with members of the organization on an every-other-day basis.
As you can see, there's enough going on in the locker room right now, and Talib's talent simply isn't worth the risk.
Besides, Minnesota returns Cook, Antoine Winfield and Josh Robinson at cornerback for 2013. Those three deserve plenty of playing time.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB
When Christian Ponder was unable to go against the Green Bay Packers in the Vikings' 2013 Wild Card playoff game, it thrust Joe Webb into the spotlight.
All the fans who clamored for Webb as Ponder struggled midway through the season were shown that Webb is not the answer. He isn't a pocket-passer, and he is, at best, a quarterback who can run the read option with Adrian Peterson.
So keeping Webb as the No. 2 option would require Minnesota to revamp its entire offense at the drop of a hat should Ponder go down. That's not a recipe for success.
Webb's abysmal playoff performance has many thinking that Minnesota will pursue a veteran quarterback to backup Ponder. But that guy should be Tarvaris Jackson.
Minnesota has already been down Jackson street, and the results were painful and uninspiring.
The Vikings may think Jackson is a "serviceable backup," but he's nothing more than a third-string quarterback who already had his chance in Minnesota.
Greg Jennings, WR
This is the name on this list that I am most excited to discuss with you.
Yes, wide receiver is Minnesota's No. 1 need. And, yes, Greg Jennings will be a highly-coveted free agent this offseason.
But that doesn't mean that he's the guy for the Vikings.
First, Jennings is at his best when operating out of the slot. Minnesota already has a slot receiver in Percy Harvin, and it's not worth giving the type of money that Jennings will command on the market to a guy who plays the same position as Harvin.
Second, Jennings will turn 30 in September and is coming off of two injury-plagued seasons. He's only played in all 16 games three times in his seven-year career.
Third, look at who Jennings has played with. He's always had high-quality talent around him at the wide receiver and quarterback positions. He's only caught passes from two future Hall of Fame players (Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers), and he's always had at least one top wide receiver on the roster with him, whether it was Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb or James Jones.
Now, the counter-argument to my last point is that Jennings made his quarterbacks and teammates better, and, in some cases, that is certainly true. But Jennings' teammates have still always performed well with him in and out of the lineup.
In Minnesota, he would have to help build Christian Ponder's career and may or may not be able to play with Harvin. He would have Adrian Peterson, who doesn't compare to any running back that he's ever had.
It just doesn't feel like a signing that bodes well for long-term success.
An article I wrote on Jan. 14 polled readers on which of the big name receivers Minnesota should sign this offseason (if any), and Jennings won that poll. So I look forward to an intelligent discussion about why I'm wrong on Jennings.
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