We’re a week into training camp, and the excitement about a fresh season tends to creep up on fans a little bit. No matter how bad you think your team is, there’s always some feeling of hope around this time of year, I heard Detroit Lions fans have even stopped crying long enough to notice that the Tigers are in first place.
But somewhere, in the deep recesses of your mind, you know that the seventh round offensive guard blowing people away with his drills is going to get cut in three weeks because he sucks, and that receiver that looks like he’s finally turned the corner in preseason will spend another year dropping balls and running the wrong routes.
With that in mind, I don’t think it’s ever too late to add talent during the preseason, and there are plenty of holes on the Minnesota Vikings to be filled. And no, I don’t mean by Brett Favre or Michael Vick. These are actual, honest signings that the Vikings could, and probably should, make today.
1. Marvin Harrison, WR
I’ll get this one out of the way first, because it’s probably the most unlikely, but it’s also probably the best. Harrison adds almost two decades of experience to an offense that’s desperately lacking it.
He might not be a starting-caliber player any more, but he would easily be the second best receiver on the Vikings, and an upgrade to the short range game over Bobby Wade.
While Sidney Rice has had a good camp thus far, he’s not going to draw any attention from Bernard Berrian and Adrian Peterson until he can prove that he can produce in the regular season without being injured. Defenses would have to react to the presence of Harrison.
2. Vonnie Holliday, DT
The potential of losing Pat and Kevin Williams for a four game stretch this season is pretty high, especially with the NHL, MLB, NBA, and USO, along with several other important acronyms joining in on the league’s suit against them.
The thought of playing with a front line made up of Fred Evans and Jimmie Kennedy doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of anybody. Evans is a serviceable backup, but nothing more, and Kennedy is a career journeyman for a reason. He’s not that good.
Holliday is a sink or swim proposition, given his age and his injury history. But I don’t think it’d be too much to ask him to start four games, and alongside Evans, he might actually end up playing good enough to keep a roster spot once their suspensions are over.
3. Melvin Fowler, C
The Vikings have had their history with Fowler, he spent ten games with them in 2005, but this is a team with a need for offensive line depth, especially at center, where if John Sullivan struggles or gets hurt, their options are currently limited to Ryan Cook or, just letting Sage Rosenfels pick the ball up off the ground.
Fowler might not be the greatest option in the world, but he’s the best free agent center available, and his experience will be a good learning tool for a young player like Sullivan. Plus, he’s versatile enough to be a backup guard.
4. Chris McAllister, CB
McAllister is probably too pricey for a nickel corner, but the Vikings are going to need to explore their options. Especially considering Benny Sapp’s record as a walking penalty machine, Marcus McCauley’s nosedive in production, and the fact that Karl Paymah is, in fact, still Karl Paymah.
McAllister would be a fine third cover corner, slipping outside so that Antoine Winfield could cover the slot, and would also be able to backup at safety, behind second year man Tyrell Johnson, in case Johnson struggles in his first year as a starter.
5. Michael Pittman, RB/FB
The Vikings have enough running backs with Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor, and Ian Johnson, but if they’re comfortable with Naufahu Tahi at fullback, there’s something wrong.
Tahi’s a serviceable backup, but nothing more, and, in fact, Adrian Peterson got so tired of Tahi plugging up holes and whiffing on blocks last season, that he asked to come out of the backfield alone on most of his rushes. He actually asked to not have a lead blocker.
Pittman’s not going to be the best fullback in the world either, but he’s certainly got the talent and instincts to be an upgrade at the position, with the added benefit of being able to slide in as a RB in certain packages.