2017 NFL Free Agency: 5 Big Name Players Minnesota Vikings Must Avoid

Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers

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If the Minnesota Vikings plan on getting better next season, they would be wise to avoid these five big names in 2017 NFL free agency.

It all seemed to be coming together for the Minnesota Vikings. They started off the 2016 campaign with an impressive 5-0 record, but then watched injuries and inconsistent play bring them crashing back down to Earth.

If they plan on being contenders in 2017, they absolutely must find ways to upgrade the roster in the coming months. More specifically, the Vikings need to make smart decisions during 2017 NFL free agency and the 2017 NFL Draft. For now, though, let’s focus on free agency.

I’ve already highlighted a few big-name options they should target. This time around, I’m taking a look at big names they must avoid at all costs. For one reason or another, these players should not be calling Minnesota home in 2017. Whether it’s due to a ridiculous price tag or a standing as an overrated talent, they simply aren’t going to give the Vikings what they need to get over the hump next season.

With that in mind, here’s my look at five big-name free agents the Vikings must avoid when 2017 NFL free agency gets underway.

Kenny Britt Los Angeles Rams

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5. Kenny Britt, WR – Los Angeles Rams

Based on how 2016 went, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings targeted a starting-caliber wide receiver this offseason. However, if they’re at all interested in Kenny Britt, they need to change that in a big hurry.

Britt is coming off a breakout year of sorts. Acting as the Rams’ most reliable receiver (not saying much), he put his first career 1,000-yard season. Let me make it clear, though, that Britt only shined because Los Angeles’ quarterbacks didn’t have anyone else to throw to.

When inserted into an offense with decent options out wide, Britt won’t be a star. While the Vikings receiving corps isn’t exactly loaded, there’s no way the veteran can earn the No. 1 job over players such as Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Laquon Treadwell.

The real reason why Minnesota should avoid Britt? There’s no way he’s worth the $6.7 million per year Spotrac.com is expecting him to command on the open market. The Vikings don’t have an abundance of cap space to work with, and they don’t need to waste it on an overrated receiver with unreliable hands.

Britt is a solid No. 2 option for a team desperate for help in the passing game. Right now, though, the Vikings aren’t that desperate—especially at that price.

Menelik Watson Oakland Raiders

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4. Menelik Watson, OT – Oakland Raiders

The Vikings will be searching far and wide this offseason for offensive line talent. They absolutely need to find replacements at left and right tackle, and may even look for help along the interior as well. While former second-round pick Menelik Watson is an intriguing option, I don’t think he’s the answer.

The sky appeared to be the limit for the Florida State product. However, during his first four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, he’s done little more than disappoint. Most of his career has been spent battling injuries. Even when he is healthy, Watson is an inconsistent presence along the front five.

With that being said, I’m sure someone will pick him up this offseason. The hope will be that a fresh start in a new offense will jump-start his NFL career. That may be the case, but there’s simply no point in taking that type of risk with a player who always seems to be hurt.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for adding young players with potential/upside/etc. With the way injuries plagued the Minnesota offensive line in 2016, though, this team can’t afford to rely on a player who’s been available for only 27 of 64 possible games.

Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers

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3. Eddie Lacy, RB – Green Bay Packers

More than likely, Adrian Peterson and his overpriced contract will be shown the door this offseason. When that happens, the Vikings will be left with little at the running back position. Addressing the issue during free agency will obviously be a consideration.

If that’s the case, the Vikings need to stay as far away from Eddie Lacy as possible.

A couple of years ago, Lacy was seen as one of the league’s top young runners. However, inconsistency and weight issues have seen him take a nasty tumble towards irrelevance. Now he heads into the 2017 offseason hoping he can resurrect his career with a new team.

Minnesota, however, isn’t the place for said resurrection to take place. After the way the ground game floundered in 2016, the Vikings would be better off giving Jerick McKinnon the extra carries instead of putting their faith in Lacy. Even another offseason full of P90X isn’t going to be enough to convince me he’s ready to be a star again.

Lacy will likely be forced to sign a discount contract when free agency gets under way. While I can understand why the Vikings might be interested, they’d be wise to spend their money elsewhere.

Luke Joeckel Jacksonville Jaguars

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2. Luke Joeckel, OT/G – Jacksonville Jaguars

When Luke Joeckel was the No. 2 overall selection in 2013, it seemed like the Jacksonville Jaguars had found themselves a stud. Instead, it didn’t exactly pan out that way. In fact, he’s been little more than a bust through four seasons.

While the Jaguars will likely try to re-sign him as a guard, my guess is he’ll look for an opportunity elsewhere as a tackle. If that’s the case, the Vikings would be wise to steer clear of the former top pick out of Texas A&M.

Now don’t get me wrong—Joeckel hasn’t been a complete disaster in the NFL. He may not be anywhere near living up to the billing as the No. 2 pick, but he’s a decent starter. However, as is the case with Watson, Joeckel carries way too much risk due to his history of injuries. For example, he’s only played in all 16 games during one of his four seasons in Jacksonville.

To make matters worse, his 2016 campaign ended after a trip to IR for a knee injury that required surgery. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—the Vikings can’t depend on injury-prone blockers with how last year went. There’s simply too much riding on this team’s immediate future to take those types of risks. Joeckel will start again in the NFL once healthy. It may be with the Jaguars or with another team, but it shouldn’t be with the Vikings.

Stephon Gilmore Buffalo Bills

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1. Stephon Gilmore, CB – Buffalo Bills

This offseason, the Vikings are expected to lose two of their top three cornerbacks. Captain Munnerlyn is headed for the open market and Terence Newman is expected to retire. That’ll leave the Vikings rather thin in terms of experience at cornerback.

Adding one of the few top names expected to be free agents doesn’t seem like the answer, though. Trumaine Johnson, Stephon Gilmore and A.J. Bouye are all scheduled to be available, but I’m certain two of them aren’t worth the likely asking price.

Seeing as Johnson will likely re-sign with the Rams, that leaves Gilmore as the other option not worth the price. As great as it would seem to be to land a talent like him, the Vikings would be best to avoid making a deal. The two reasons behind this assertion: money and inconsistency.

As great as Gilmore has been at times, he’s coming off an up-and-down season with the Bills. That’s not to say he wasn’t a star, but he didn’t exactly dominate like the shutdown cornerback he’s about to be paid to be. I’d even go as far as saying Xavier Rhodes was a better player during the 2016 campaign.

The Vikings only have so much cap space to dish out. With a bidding war for Gilmore’s services likely looming, they’d be better off allocating that money elsewhere. Cornerback is definitely a need for Minnesota, but overspending on a big name isn’t the way to fill it.

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