The Minnesota Vikings have been known to dip into free agency when needed. This offseason, the Vikings have several key players who they'll have to make decisions on whether to bring back or not. FOX Sports North takes a look at the 17 players set to hit free agency. (Note: free-agent and salary information via OverTheCap.com).
The exclusive rights free agents
An exclusive rights free agent can only be signed by the Vikings, as long as Minneosta tenders that player an offer. If not, that player becomes an unrestricted free agent. Minnesota has only two exclusive rights free agents: OT Jeremiah Sirles and OG Zac Kerin.
USA TODAY SportsJoe Nicholson
RB Matt Asiata, unrestricted
2016 stats: 16 games (6 starts), 121 carries for 402 yards and six touchdowns; 32 caches for 263 yards
2016 cap number: $840,000.
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Asiata can be an effective short-yardage back and has decent hands, as his 101 career receptions would attest. In the last three seasons he has scored a touchdown every 20.9 carries. In addition, he'd likely come cheap.
Why they wouldn't: When Adrian Peterson has been injured, Asiata has been given a chance to start and get the brunt of the carries. He owns just 3.5-yard career rushing average and averaged only 3.3 yards per carry in 2016. After five seasons -- and with a deep class at running back in the draft -- it might be time to move on.
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: While Cole has some experience playing on defense, he is largely around for his play on special teams. A key contributor on that unit, Cole had 275 special teams snaps in 2016. Finding solid special teams players isn't always easy and Cole also can provide depth at all the linebacker spots.
Why they wouldn't: Minnesota might want to find someone who can offer more than just playing on special teams and be an emergency linebacker. Or, they might not want to pay a special teams player more money.
USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
TE Rhett Ellison, unrestricted
2016 stats: 15 games (6 starts), 9 catches for 57 yards; 1 rush for 1 yard and 1 TD.
2016 cap number: $1,850,625
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Ellison has proven to be a solid blocking tight end for the Vikings for five seasons. At first it was thought he wouldn't even be back with Minnesota after suffering a knee injury in January 2016, but credit to his work ethic and perseverance, which certainly Vikings officials had to take notice of.
Why they wouldn't: The Vikings drafted David Morgan last year as Ellison's eventual replacement. While not many tight ends own a rushing touchdown, Ellison played in only 258 offensive snaps last season. He's probably getting too expensive for such minimal time with a youngster waiting in the wings.
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: The three-time Vikings Defensive MVP might not be as productive as he once was, but he still can play. His days as a starter might be over, but he still has value (at a lower salary, of course). Mike Zimmer recently said he'd welcome back Greenway if the longtime linebacker chooses not to retire.
Why they wouldn't: Greenway has indicated he'll play for the Vikings or no one. That could be his choice or Minnesota's.
USA TODAY SportsJeff Hanisch
T/G Mike Harris, unrestricted
2016 stats: Did not play
2016 cap number: $2,470,586
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: There is some uncertainty whether or not Harris is even a free agent after missing all of the 2016 season due to an undisclosed illness (we've seen it both ways). Clearly, Minnesota needs to bolster its offensive line and Harris has proven to be capable, albeit not great, in his two previous seasons with the Vikings. Still, depth is needed.
Why they wouldn't: Harris said he expects to play in 2017, but certainly there's a cloud of mystery surrounding his status. He has allowed 10 sacks in 28 games (21 starts) with the Vikings, so it's not exactly like we're talking about Randall McDaniel here.
USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
QB Shaun Hill, unrestricted
2016 stats: 3 games (1 start), 19-of-35 passing for 242 yards; 5 carries for 5 yards
2016 cap number: $3,250,000
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: If Teddy Bridgewater's healing process takes longer than expected or he's to miss regular-season time, Minnesota likely would want a veteran as a backup to likely starter Sam Bradford.
Why they wouldn't: Hill just turned 37 and the Vikings have a lot of money invested in quarterbacks already. Better to find a younger, cheaper one. If Bridgewater is expected to be healthy for camp, there's no need for Hill or any other veteran QB.
WR Charles Johnson, restricted
2016 stats: 16 games (7 starts), 20 catches for 232 yards
2016 cap number: $600,000
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Johnson is a reliable third or fourth receiver who won't cost a lot. If Minnesota wants to retain him -- and a couple of receivers from last year's team could be gone -- it seems doubtful there will be suitors lining up at Johnson's door.
Why they wouldn't: Minnesota perhaps tipped its hand to the future as Johnson's offensive snaps went way down in the final two games of the season. Johnson had 543 snaps and just 20 catches, not the kind of production that was expected of him after he surprisingly had 31 receptions in 2014.
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Again, Minnesota needs help on the O-line. Kalil has struggled in his time with Minnesota, but improved from 2014 (when he had 10 penalties and allowed 13.75 sacks) to 2015 (7 and 5.5). There is a familiarity here and left tackle market in free agency is currently underwhelming. Coming off an injury and with a previous big cap number he'll need to take a big pay cut, though, of course.
Why they wouldn't: After 25 penalties and 31.75 sacks allowed in 66 career games, it might just be time for Minnesota to move on and Kalil to have a change of scenery.
FB Zach Line, unrestricted
2016 stats: 15 games (4 starts), 7 carries for 15 yards
2016 cap number: $1,671,000
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Line been a Viking for four years but didn't see much action his first two years, so he's not an overly beat-up fullback. He can punch one in the end zone when needed (two TDs in 2015 on six carries). Line is also the only fullback the Vikings have on the roster from 2016, including injured reserve and those signed to future contracts.
Why they wouldn't: Line was paid a decent amount of money for someone who saw only 210 offensive snaps and 129 on special teams in 2016 and has only 13 career carries. Younger, cheaper is out there. But better? That's what the Vikings have to ask themselves.
USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
P Jeff Locke, unrestricted
2016 stats: 16 games, 42.6 average, 39.0 net average
2016 cap number: $721,048
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Locke has been fairly consistent in his four years in Minnesota and owns a career 43.2-yard punting average. In 2016, he was tied for fifth in punts inside the 20 (34), fifth in punts which were fair caught (28), and tied for third in punts downed (14). As it stands, there are only two other punters who are unrestricted free agents (Britton Colquitt and Shane Lechler). Having a rookie punter can be unappetizing, not to mention risky.
Why they wouldn't: While Locke has some superlative statistics, as mentioned above, he was 29th in the NFL in average yards per punt and 25th in net average. He also doesn't kick off and Minnesota might want to find someone with a big leg who can get the ball in the end zone for touchbacks as neither Blair Walsh nor Kai Forbath were especially proficient in this area.
2016 cap number: $325,941 (prorated; his base salary was $885,000)
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: He's a veteran who could supply depth at tackle and guard. While Long didn't do much in his brief time before being hurt, he held up OK for someone who was thrown into the fire quickly.
Why they wouldn't: If Long still wants to be a starter it's time to look elsewhere. He struggled in that role in the latter part of his time with Miami and then St. Louis before landing in Atlanta as a backup. And, again, he probably on the market into October last season for a reason.
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Munnerlyn was solid and consistent in his three years in Minnesota after being signed as a free agent away from Carolina. While he had no interceptions in 2016, he had two in both 2014 and 2015 and has 11 picks in his eight-year career. Munnerlyn has missed only one regular-season game in the last five years and just four games overall in his career.
Why they wouldn't: While he is listed as having started nine games, it was mainly as a nickel back and the scrappy veteran could be tempted away via a larger role on a team with less defensive depth. Minnesota already has two former first-round picks at cornerback in Xavier Rhodes and Trae Wayne, plus last year's second-round pick Mackensie Alexander is waiting in the wings despite struggling as a rookie, potentially calling Munnerlyn’s role with the Vikings further into question.
CB Terence Newman, unrestricted
2016 stats: 15 games (10 starts), 38 TKL, 8 PD, 1 INT
2016 cap number: $3,000,000
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Newman was a revelation in 2016, listed by Pro Football Focus as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. PFF noted Newman allowed just 31 yards after the catch (or an average of 1.07 yards) and ranked the veteran in the top 10 among CBs in passer rating (62.0), completion percentage (51.8) and yards surrendered (245).
Why they wouldn't: Newman will be 39 next season, virtually unheard of for a defensive player, especially a cornerback. Only 10 players were older than 35 last year (mostly kickers and punters), just three of which were defensive players: Newman, Green Bay's Julius Peppers (36) and Pittsburgh's James Harrison (38, just a few months older than Newman). Can he fight Father Time one more year? Is it time to rely on the younger corners? Also, will Newman decide to hang up his cleats and retire?
USA TODAY SportBrace Hemmelgarn
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, unrestricted
2016 stats: 16 games (8 starts), 52 catches for 453 yards and 2 TDs; 7 rushes for 43 yards; 43 kick returns, 32.4 average, 2 TD
2016 cap number: $2,297,605
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: After having a career high in catches and making the Pro Bowl as a kick returner for the second time (he also was an All-Pro for the second time), Patterson seems inclined to return for the right price. He recently expressed confidence in offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who made it a point to get the ball more in Patterson's hands.
Why they wouldn't: The Vikings already have Stefon Diggs and the emerging Adam Thielen, so how many touches would be available for Patterson? The wide receiver also said he'd be willing to play running back, which might be strange coming off a 52-catch season. He'll likely command too much money to be an experimental running back. Minnesota could have avoided this, but didn't pick up his fifth-year option, leading to free agency a year early. Some team might like Patterson's size and return ability -- not to mention offer him a shot at being a top-two receiver.
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Yeah, you know that offensive line thing. Smith was supposed to anchor down the right tackle spot for the Vikings but missed most of the season with an arm injury. The lack of playing time could soften the market for Smith and he could get a Round 2 with Minnesota.
Why they wouldn't: Smith had only a brief tryout but 2.5 sacks in four games might not have given a good impression. Smith has been up-and-down in his career (7.5 sacks allowed in 2012; 7 sacks in 23 games from 2014-15) and just turned 30 years old.
JUSA TODAY SportsJim Dedmon
WR Adam Thielen, restricted
2016 stats: 16 games (10 starts), 69 catches for 967 yards and 5 TDs; 2 rushes for 15 yards
2016 cap number: $600,000
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Let's see, born in Minnesota, went to school in Minnesota and had a breakout season in 2016. Checks off all the boxes.
Why they wouldn't: Another team steps in and makes an offer Thielen can't refuse (and Minnesota can't match).
DE Justin Trattou, unrestricted
2016 stats: 16 games (0 starts), 4 TKL
2016 cap number: $650,000
Why the Vikings would re-sign him: Trattou's work ethic finally paid off as he played in every game this past season and became a valuable member of the special teams (270 snaps). He doesn't see the field much on defense, but provides some depth.
Why they wouldn't: This was really Trattou's first year playing full-time, as it were, with any team. From 2011-15 with the Giants and Vikings he played all of 21 games with nine tackles. Minnesota could easily replace him with a rookie.