The Minnesota Vikings are coming off what was undoubtedly a disappointing season. They finished the season with six wins and 10 losses, while finishing last in the NFC North for the first time since playing in that division.
The Vikings struggled the most offensively, especially through the air, where they finished 26th in passing yards per game. This can be contributed to an assortment of things, such as poor play and injuries to the quarterback position, along with poor offensive line play and injuries at the wide receiver position.
If Minnesota wants to return to the playoffs, or even just improve their record, some moves on both sides of the ball will need to be made after the pending lockout is lifted.
Sidney Rice’s contract with the Minnesota Vikings expired after the end of last year. The Vikings have not had an opportunity to offer him a deal due to the pending lockout.
After the lockout, Rice will likely test the free agent market, which is the likely spot where the Vikings are going to need to re-sign him. When the lockout is finally lifted, Rice needs to be the Vikings No. 1 priority.
In 2009 Rice put up his best numbers as a pro, receiving for more than 1,300 yards while scoring eight touchdowns. Even though Rice only played in five games last year, he can still be an elite receiver in the NFL. Rice’s size and strength is a great complement to Percy Harvin’s speed and athleticism.
Rice is a guy who definitely can help either rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, or a veteran if they choose to make a trade. He would be a great return to passing game that struggled.
Like Rice, Chad Greenway's contract expired at the end of last season, except they franchise tagged him, so he will be playing this year, but they need to extend his contract once the lockout is over.
The Vikings have a good shot at re-signing him; he grew up in neighboring South Dakota and played his college ball in neighboring Iowa. The deal makes sense for both parties.
The former first-round pick has developed into one of the games best 4-3 strongside linebackers. In 2010, Greenway racked up almost 150 tackles, which put him fourth in the NFL. He has also stayed healthy since missing his rookie season with a knee surgery.
Greenway is the type of player that Minnesota cannot afford to let slip out of their hands.
The Vikings biggest question mark going into the upcoming season (assuming there is one) is the quarterback position.
They did take former Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick, who is a guy that most scouts say is the most NFL-ready quarterback from this draft class.
My biggest concearn with starting Ponder is the offensive line. Last year, Brett Favre missed his first game in 300-plus starts, and then backup QB Tavaris Jackson proceeded to get hurt. The offensive line had a large part in this, and the last thing an NFL franchise wants is their first- round pick taking repeated blows form 300-pound defensive lineman.
The best option for acquiring a veteran QB is to trade for either Donovan McNabb or Carson Palmer. Both guys who have been in the league for awhile, both are coming off disappointing seasons, and both are not getting along with their current franchise. They could also be acquired for a fairly cheap price or a package of late-round picks.
A mentor for Christian Ponder would be a great addition for the Vikings for the 2011 season.
Even though the Vikings’ defense ranked a respectable 10th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, they could still use an improvement in the secondary.
With Antoine Winfield not getting any younger and the rest of the defensive backfield inexperienced, it would make sense for the Vikings to bring in a defensive back.
The Vikes could go either safety or corner; both positions could use an upgrade. Ideally they would sign Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, though this will likely not be a realistic option.
A more possible choice here would be corner Eric Wright from the Cleveland Browns. Another great fit, though a little bit of a longshot, would be corner Johnathan Joseph from the Cincinnati Bengals. Joseph is one of the best young corners in the game, and he would bring everything the Vikings need.
Other options include safeties Quintin Mikell and Eric Weddle.