Last Friday saw quarterback Matt Cassel officially opt out of the final year of his two-year contract to head to free agency. The Vikings, as expected, also released starting linebacker Erin Henderson, who was arrested twice on drunk-driving charges late last year.
With that, the chess pieces on Minnesota's board have begun to move. The 2014 offseason began with the firing of head coach Leslie Frazier and the hiring of Mike Zimmer, the former defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman will try to assemble a team with fewer pawns and more power players to try to improve on last year's 5-10-1 record.
The NFL's official free-agency signing period begins on March 11, with players able to begin negotiating with clubs on March 8. That leaves teams with a month to continue to send out feelers and to keep examining their rosters to see where they can best spend their available dollars.
The Vikings head towards free agency with needs all over the field. Here we'll pick the ideal free agent for each position of need. We'll dial it down a little bit and not just pick the best player at each spot. We'll consider how likely it is that a player leaves his current team and also how likely it is that the Vikings would pursue the player, considering how much the market will bear for that particular guy.
Away we go.