2017 Free Agency Preview: Minnesota Vikings
[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on March 1, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]
What you need to know
While Minnesota was off to a strong start in 2016 thanks to some excellent performances by its defense, the Vikings – similarly to the defensive unit – struggled to continue their form throughout the season and missed the playoffs. The Vikings’ offseason took a not-so-unexpected turn when Minnesota decided not to pick up the option on Adrian Peterson’s contract Tuesday and to essentially release the running back, creating significant cap room in the process. Although the Vikings do not have plenty of free agents, they still have quite a few holes to fill, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Salary cap room
- Running back
- Wide receiver
Notable free agents
- Captain Munnerlyn, CB, 75.5 overall grade in 2016
- Terence Newman, CB, 86.4
- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR, 67.2
Captain Munnerlyn, CB, 75.5 overall grade in 2016
One of only a few Minnesota free agents, Munnerlyn has been a steady presence in the slot since his arrival from Carolina three years ago. Although Munnerlyn took a slight step back in 2016, he is still among the better players in the league at his position, as he allowed only one touchdown in the slot despite being the fourth-most-targeted cornerback when he lined up there.
Kevin Zeitler, G, Cincinnati Bengals, 87.1
The Vikings need all the help they can get along the offensive line, and Zeitler is the best offensive lineman about to hit the market. While T.J. Lang might be a better pass protector, Zeitler allowed only one sack all season in 2016 and has been among the best run-blocking guards year in, year out.
Top 2017 free agency prospects
Ricky Wagner, T, Baltimore Ravens, 84.5
Wagner is expected to be among the most coveted free agents due to the lack of quality offensive linemen available over the upcoming free agency period. Although not an elite run-blocker, Wagner would bring much needed help to the right side of the Vikings’ offensive line as a pass protector. While Andre Smith allowed two sacks in three games for the Vikings in 2016, Wagner surrendered only three sacks in 14 games last season.
Andrew Whitworth, LT, Cincinnati Bengals, 91.3
Minnesota actually cannot acquire too many offensive linemen this offseason, and while Whitworth could only be a short-term solution due to his age, he would present a tremendous upgrade to the Vikings’ line. The 14 total pressures he gave up in 15 games last season is less than one-fourth of the pressures incumbent left tackle T.J. Clemmings allowed in 14 games in 2016.
Rex Burkhead, HB, Cincinnati Bengals, 74.5
The Vikings have a dire need to add playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, and while Burkhead is not the most well-known name on the market, he might be the one with the highest potential. The former Cincinnati Bengal only has only 89 career carries so he does not have the wear and tear that some of the other available running backs. In addition, he can contribute as a receiver too and the fact that he averaged 3.0 yards after contact in 2016 could come in handy behind a subpar offensive line.