Minnesota Vikings: 5 Underrated Free Agents That Make Them Playoff Contenders

Nick McAndrewsCorrespondent IIIMay 25, 2011

Minnesota Vikings: 5 Underrated Free Agents That Make Them Playoff Contenders

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    GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 23:  Wide receiver Plaxico Burress #17 of the New York Giants warms up for the game with the Arizona Cardinals on November 23, 2008 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Giants won 37-29.  (Photo by Stephen Dun
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Many will argue that the Minnesota Vikings will once again bottom-out the NFC North. 

    They will probably tell you that the inexperience at QB in combination with the inconsistency at OL will keep the Vikings' air attack stagnant. 

    They may even argue that their virtually non-existent secondary will leave them in the dust behind the Packers, Bears and Lions.

    I am here to tell you that, right now, all of those things could be true—but could be easy fixed for this team that was favored to win the Super Bowl only two years ago. 

    Free agency could have a major impact on the Vikings roster moving into 2011. They didn't have that luxury going into the draft, and now that they have some options, could fill some vital needs on both sides of the ball. 

    If the Vikings are able to fill some key holes, they could unlock the chains keeping them from the playoffs. 

5. Robert Gallery

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 03:  Robert Gallery #76 of the Oakland Raiders stands on the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks on September 3, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Robert Gallery plays guard for the Oakland Raiders. Well, he did, until he and the team decided to part ways this offseason. 

    Gallery is now a free agent and is rumored to have no interest returning to Oakland. 

    After being drafted second overall in 2004, he has been considered a bust at the left tackle position, but has resurrected his NFL career at guard. 

    The Vikings are struggling with their offensive line. They will need to protect their rookie QB to give him even a slight chance at success. 

    Bringing in Gallery would help the Vikings not only in pass protection, but in the run game as well. 

    I realize that Gallery is not a fantastic pass blocker, but he is certainly an improvement from Anthony Herrera. 

    This veteran guard would be a welcome addition to this wavering offensive line. 

4. William Gay

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 21:  William Gay #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers lines up before the snap against the Oakland Raiders during the game on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Vikings are notoriously weak in their defensive secondary. 

    While they're much deeper at CB than safety, they could still stand to add some depth on the outside. 

    Asher Allen, Chris Cook and rookie Brandon Burton all have a lot of potential, but could clearly use some veteran guidance. Cedric Griffin is constantly injured, leaving Antoine Winfield with too much responsibility. If the Vikings could add another veteran presence at this position, I think they would see massive improvement from all of their corners. 

    Cue William Gay. 

    Gay has started the last two seasons for the stingy Pittsburgh Steelers defense. 

    He has been to two Super Bowls since his rookie year in 2007.

    Although his numbers aren't Pro Bowl caliber, he still has experience playing on one of the most hard-nosed defenses in the NFL. 

    The Steelers may not be able to retain Gay because of their high number of free agents. The Vikings could pounce on this opportunity to add some depth to a weak spot on their roster. They need to when they share a division with Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson Jr. 

3. Marc Bulger

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    DETROIT - NOVEMBER 1:  Marc Bulger #10 of the St. Louis Rams looks to hand off during the game against the Detroit Lions on November 1, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Marc Bulger is the only player on this list that wouldn't become an immediate starter, but that's not to say he wouldn't have an immediate impact. 

    The Vikings will start Christian Ponder in Week 1. I have no doubt in my mind about this inevitability. 

    They have given Ponder many of the same luxuries shared by Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. 

    Ponder has an offense essentially tailored to his ability and the abilities of the skill players around him. 

    The Vikings could choose to also give Ponder a mentor through free agency. 

    Many people will tell you that this player will be Donovan McNabb, I will tell you that those people are absolutely wrong. Head coach Leslie Frazier has openly stated that the Vikings have no interest in McNabb—and for good reason. 

    Bulger wouldn't be able to compete for a starting job, but he could help advise Ponder much like he did in Baltimore with Joe Flacco. 

    This addition would help out the Vikings talented rookie QB tremendously. 

2. Plaxico Burress

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 16:  Plaxico Burress #17 of the New York Giants in action against the Baltimore Ravens during their game on November 16, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    This pick-up would make sense for two reasons. 

    One: The Vikings could very well lose No. 1 receiving option Sidney Rice.

    Two: If they were to retain Rice, they could use another outside option opposite him.

    I'm sure I wasn't the only one salivating over the idea of Rice and Randy Moss stretching the field together in 2010. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed to not see the true potential of the Vikings pass attack. 

    Burress would be a great addition to the Vikings receiving corps, providing he still has the same ability as before his stint in prison. Maybe he played with the Mean Machine?

    Movie references aside, Burress stretching the field with Rice would create some huge options underneath for Percy Harvin and the Vikings new dynamic TE duo in Rudolph and Shiancoe. 

    I don't really know their odds at landing such a free agent, but would think they have just as good a chance as any other NFL team. 

1. Eric Weddle

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Free-Safety Eric Weddle #32 of the San Diego Chargers intercepts the ball and runs in back for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium on September 27, 2009 in San Diego, Califor
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    The Vikings biggest hole, right now, is at safety. 

    Their Tampa-Two style of defense is very demanding for their safeties and, unfortunately, they are embarrassingly weak at that position. 

    Eric Weddle was an All-Pro for the San Diego Chargers in 2010, but could end up somewhere else in 2011 through free agency. 

    The Chargers added SS Bob Sanders and brought in two safeties in the draft. 

    After a great season in 2010, Weddle will look for a big contract, but may not receive one from the Chargers because of the players added in the NFL draft.  

    The Vikings could make a play for this top FS, and dramatically improve their hideous secondary. 

    I see this situation being much like that of Darren Sharper leaving Minnesota for New Orleans. The Chargers may not re-sign him, and regret it next season. I just hope Minnesota is on the receiving end this offseason.