While I’m waiting for word of the Daunte Culpepper trade (NFL Network’s Adam Schefter has him now going to the Miami Dolphins), I thought I’d put together my Vikings free agency wish list this year.
I’m fine with Brad Johnson
running our offense next season. But if Daunte’s gone, then we’re
probably in the market for another quarterback but there just ain’t
much out there among the available free agents. Josh McCown
is the name that keeps popping up and the allure is that he’s young and
athletic, so I guess he’s probably as good as anyone if you don’t want
to pay top dollar. And I don’t. Otherwise, depending upon how Childress
feels about J.T. O’Sullivan, they might want to consider drafting a quarterback in the second or third rounds.
I like Edgerrin James. A lot. But we shouldn’t overpay for him. If not James, I’d be fine with the Seahawk’s backup running back Maurice Morris, then prehaps picking up a rock star running back in the draft–Laurence Maroney would be sweet. This draft class is loaded with running backs and it’s a position a rookie can often succeed at right away, so I’d be happy if we waited till the draft to address the position. The only caveat there, though, would be that you’d want someone who can pick up the blitz.
On the offensive side of the ball, this is where I think the Vikings need to make the biggest splash in free agency because it’s our most glaring weakness. At the top of my list is the Saints’ LeCharles Bentley because he’s started at both Center and Guard and he’s top-ranked lineman available. The Vikings have got to be concerned about Matt Birk‘s health and signing the rock star Bentley would give the team the flexibility of starting Birk at center, Bentley at Guard, and if Birk goes down, you’ve got a Pro Bowl center to fill his space.
Failing that, I’d make a run at the Seahawks Guard Steve Hutchinson, upon whom the Hawks have put a transition tag. I’d also resign Toniu Fonoti if he’s not too expensive. I can’t imagine he’d command that much because, after all, he came to us last year injured, got healthy, played one game, and then got injured again and was out for the season. If he can stay healthy, he looks like a beast.
I’ve read a few things that say the Vikings aren’t interested in Eagles Right Tackle Jon Runyan, but let’s hope that’s just talk. The guy’s a nasty tackle and he’s coming off two excellent seasons.
The Vikings could use another speed rusher at Defensive End to accompany Erasmus James because it remains to be seen if Kenechi Udeze will be that guy. The Jets John Abraham is the biggest name available at DE; he’s been franchised but he’s also on the trading block. I’d love to see him in Purple.
The Saints’ Darren Howard is the next best available at end. He, too, would be a fantastic addition.
This is the Vikings greatest area of need on defense and luckily for us, both free agency and the draft are thick with Linebackers. Unfortunately, however, the pickings are thin at Middle Linebacker, and I don’t want to trust that position to a rookie and I still don’t want to trust it to E.J. Henderson. The best free agent MLB is Matt Wilhelm, but he’s a restricted free agent, so you may have to cough up a lot to get him.
The one player who most makes me salivate on the defensive side is Carolina’s Will Witherspoon and there will be a lot of competition for him but if I had to chose just one defensive player that I had to have, it’d be Witherspoon. LaVar Arrington is available. The book on him is that you just have to run at him to render him ineffective. But if anyone would know, it would be Brad Childress who faced him twice a year when he was at Philly.
The other big name is San Francisco’s Julian Peterson.
I’d like to pick up two high profile Linebackers and then draft one or two as well.
It looks like we may be in the market for a Nickleback because the Vikings withdrew the transition tag they had on Brian Williams, so expect him to walk and earn some big bucks.
Ty Law is available but damn, he’s an 11 year veteran and even though he’s coming off a great season, he does want $7 million. That’s too much for an old Cornerback. I have no interest in Charles Woodson and Ahmed Plummer doesn’t do much for me, either.
I think we’re probably looking at someone like a Jerry Azumah or a Deshea Townsend or an Andre Dyson, which I’d be fine with. I’d also be fine with our very own Devonte Edwards.
Willie Offord re-signed but though he picked up his play last year, he also has never remained health. We’ve got last year’s third round pick Dustin Fox waiting in the wings, so the plan could be to go with that combination at Strong Safety and pick up a low-level free agent safety to fill out the roster.
But if the Vikes wanted to spend a little on the position, my top picks would be the Rams Adam Archuleta or, failing that, the Steelers’ Chris Hope.
I’d be happy bringing Paul Edinger back but if you wanted to upgrade at the position, this would be the year. If you’re planning on going after a top kicker, then I don’t know how you don’t persue Mr. Clutch, Adam Vinatieri. The Colts’ Mike Vanderjagt is almost as good but he’s no good at kickoffs. The Packers Ryan Longwell would be a good fit.
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