Minnesota Vikings: 5 Moves Vikings Should Make Before Season Starts
The offseason for the Vikings has created a mixed reaction among fans.
First came the drafting of Christian Ponder at 12. Many fans were not happy with the pick, but over time, things have settled down.
Just this past week, the Vikings traded for Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb. While there were again mixed reactions, it seems to be a positive move overall. After all, Ponder hasn't practiced with his new teammates yet, and having him watch a Philadelphia legend at quarterback can only help him.
The Vikings are still over the cap after releasing some players, namely Madieu Williams and Jimmy Kennedy. There are still plenty of moves the Vikings can do to relieve some cap pressure.
In addition to acquiring more cap space, the Vikings still need to fill some glaring holes. The secondary still has question marks and the offensive line is suspect.
In order for the Vikings to protect their new investments, they must start to upgrade positions rather than bandage them up again.
5. Resign Chad Greenway and Adrian Peterson
As of right now, the two players named have contributed approximately $21 million against the cap for the 2011 season. That's a lot of money devoted to two players.
In order for the Vikings to move forward, these two players need to be re-signed.
Chad Greenway is a leader of the defense and has established himself as one of the best 4-3 linebackers in the NFL. The Vikings would be foolish to let Greenway walk away after the season. He is just entering his prime and has many years left ahead of him.
There isn't much to say about Peterson. Losing him will completely demoralize the franchise. Not only is he the face of the Vikings, he is one of the biggest faces of the entire NFL.
He is in the last year of his rookie contract. If the Vikings can't figure something out during the season, it's likely Peterson will be franchised, but that's not a risk the Vikings should take.
With DeAngelo Williams signing a five-year deal worth a reported $43 million, expect the Peterson camp to use that as leverage to get as much as possible.
The Vikings can't afford to lose these players. Pay them and move on to other important matters.
Peterson: five years worth $54 million.
Greenway: six years worth $47 million.
4. Restructure a Few Contracts
Many Vikings fans feel that Berrian should be cut, but what good would that really do? The Vikings have a lot of unproven receivers and the only one with experience is Berrian.
He clearly didn't click with Favre during the last two seasons. Many times, it seems that Berrian quit on plays. However, with Favre and his ego out of the way and a new quarterback ready to take over, expect Berrian to have a solid season.
Berrian is currently due $3.9 million against the cap for 2011, but he has hardly lived up to those expectations. He is going to make close to $7 million if he stays with the Vikings for 2012.
The best thing the Vikings can do is restructure his contract or let the guy walk. He has not lived up to the expectations.
A few other players the Vikings should look at is Jim Kleinsasser and Steve Hutchinson.
Last season, Kleinsasser signed a three-year deal for $9 million. However, he rarely plays, and the Vikings will have a really hard time finding room for him to play with the addition of Kyle Rudolph. Jim is one of my favorite Vikings, but he is locked into a contract that is not in the best interests of the Vikings.
Hutchinson would likely be the hardest to rework. The guy is capable of playing at a high level, but his play has noticeably decreased over the last two seasons. He will be making approximately $6.68 million this season and unless he makes the Pro Bowl, he won't be worth it.
The Vikings can resign Hutch for another few seasons while spreading out the remaining $13.5-plus million owed to him.
3. Grab a Wide Receiver in Free Agency
The market for free agent receivers has dramatically decreased over the last 48 hours. Minnesota let Sidney Rice walk while seeing guys like Mike Sims-Walker, Santonio Holmes and Steve Breaston sign huge deals.
Receivers left include James Jones, Malcolm Floyd, Derrick Mason, and Braylon Edwards. Mason is old and wouldn't add a lot to the offense. Edwards has always had a case of butter fingers. Floyd is relatively unproven. The only logical choice is Jones.
While he has missed some key balls in his day, he is the youngest of the bunch and has the biggest upside. Stealing him away from a division rival makes it that much sweeter.
With Jones, the Vikings get a solid option at wide receiver that forces Harvin to return to the slot where he is the most dangerous.
Opposite of the Jones would likely be Berrian, but newcomer Emmanuel Arceneaux is a very intriguing option. The Vikings will also have Jaymar Johnson returning after the ever-so-genius Brad Childress put him on IR following a thumb injury that took a few weeks to heal.
2. Figure Out the Safety Situation
For years, the weak spot of the Vikings roster has been the secondary. While Darren Sharper was a good safety, he was put into a system that didn't allow him to succeed.
With the Vikings' Tampa-2 defense, the safeties aren't allowed to be the ball-hawking type. They are for insurance purposes only who must stay ahead of deep receivers.
With the release of former starting safety Madieu Williams (thank goodness), the Vikings have an open spot. While the Vikings drafted Mistral Raymond in 2011, thinking of him as a starter immediately is wishful thinking.
Because the safety market is very slim after Eric Weddle decided to stay in San Diego, I propose we use what we already have.
The Vikings have two cornerbacks coming back from knee injuries, Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin. Griffin is coming off two ACL injuries and Cook is coming back from two meniscus tears.
Griffin was a strong cornerback before his injuries. With two bad knees, having him play one-on-one coverage may not be the best thing.
Griffin is a hard-hitting cornerback who could realistically play safety. If the Vikings decide Griffin is ready to play cornerback again, they can try Cook at the position. Cook played safety a little in college.
Antoine Winfield, Asher Allen and Cook can man the corner position. The Vikings also have a few younger guys that can contribute.
1. Upgrade the Center Position
This is a scene that we saw too much of for the last two seasons. Since Matt Birk left, the offensive line has gone downhill.
Sullivan is the weak link here. The center is the key cog to a good offensive line. Don't believe me? Look at some of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
While the Vikings drafted the D-II offensive lineman of the year in Brandon Fusco, he's hardly ready to start immediately.
The most intriguing option could be Shaun O'Hara, formally a New York Giant. He is coming off an Achilles surgery which has scared most teams away. However, he has been one of the Giants' most consistent lineman. He is a big risk, but you can get a Pro Bowl caliber player relatively cheap.
The market is small, but Sullivan needs to go. Anything would be an upgrade at this point. There is also a possibility of having Herrera start at center and finding a guard, but that is unlikely to happen.
Regardless, Vikings fans should be praying for a new starting center in 2011.