The Minnesota Vikings under Rick Spielman made strong moves in the first week of 2017 NFL free agency, though there weren’t exceptionally many.
The purple and gold were not as active addressing positions the fan base would have liked, but Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has always been diligent to try to find diamonds in the rough that’ll contribute throughout the season. Some of those key free agency finds in recent years include former starting slot cornerback, Captain Munnerlyn, Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson, Terence Newman, and Alex Boone, just to name a few.
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Offensive line was a vital position Minnesota needed to address either in the draft or via free agency, in which they did with the signing of two tackles. They may have come at a premium price, nonetheless, much-needed to protect Sam Bradford.
Rick Spielman and the Vikings may now look to address depth at wide receiver, the potential loss of Adrian Peterson at the running back position, and needed depth at the corner and linebacker positions.
Audie Cole leaving and Chad Greenway retiring now leaves open holes in their linebacker corps. Matt Asiata and Adrian Peterson could both be potentially leaving the Vikings’ backfield slim, while the receiver position has already lost Charles Johnson, could lose former first-round pick, Cordarrelle Patterson, and while Adam Thielen remains a restricted free agent as well.
This is the most turnover that we’ve seen in recent memory from the Minnesota Vikings, especially under the tenure of Spielman.
Whether Minnesota will rebound during their second week of free agency will be interesting to see. With the first week now over, let’s review the key signing they have made during this somewhat silent first week.
I personally may be one of the few to believe this, but I feel as if this signing was more to increase the competition at right tackle than it was to completely hand over the job to the newly signed, Mike Remmers.
Hear me out, with the tackle market being at a premium, Minnesota paid Mike Remmers an extremely team friendly deal to come in to compete. A five-year, $30 million dollar deal is quite familiar to the Phil Loadholt deal they made years back when that amount was extremely high for a right tackle. Now, $6 million a year isn’t exactly what it was back then.
The Vikings give themselves options here with Jeremiah Sirles re-signed, T.J. Clemmings coming off a disappointing season but moving him back to a more comfortable position, and now the signing of a former Viking who’s preferred spot is the right side when Carolina mistakenly moved him to left tackle last year.
Remmers was a below average tackle last season protecting Cam Newton’s blind side. Playing an unnatural position didn’t exactly help, nor did Newton’s issue of holding onto the ball for too long.
The frontrunner for the right tackle position is obviously Remmers. His tenacity in the run game is something the Vikings lacked last season from the offensive line as Minnesota averaged record lows in rushing averages across the board. He and Sirles will compete in camp, but do not be surprised if Minnesota brings in more competition to the position if they do not like what they see. With the left side and center anchored down, the right side of the line will now become a priority as the team moves forward through 2017.
Though the re-signing of Adam Thielen hasn’t happened as of yet, Minnesota was at least knowledgeable of the fact that the local receiver is more than just a flash in the pan. Thielen had a career season, even though he didn’t hit the 1,000-yard marker, Thielen proved to be a star in the making towards the end of the season.
69 receptions for 967 yards and five touchdowns is no laughing matter, but it is also his first year of substantial production in this league, a factor Minnesota may use when renegotiating Thielen’s contract. Minnesota placed a second round tender on Thielen, meaning if any other team would like to sign Thielen, they would in turn have to give up their second round pick to the Vikings if Minnesota chooses not to match said teams offer for the receiver.
Jeremiah Sirles is the only free agent to re-sign with the Vikings since the opening of free agency, with many leaving for other destinations. Captain Munnerlyn, Audie Cole, Matt Kalil, Charles Johnson, Rhett Ellison, and Jeff Locke have all left Minnesota and signed with other teams.
Keeping their own was always a moniker of general manager, Rick Spielman, so it’d be nice to see a general manager with such a reputation continue to try to keep some of his key players.
The market for left tackles was extremely expensive, but a much-needed position for many teams like the Minnesota Vikings.
Since his rookie pro bowl season, former Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil proved to be inconsistent and injury-plagued. Kalil missed most of last season, and had been playing through injuries the previous two seasons before. The Carolina Panthers were willing to bite and put Kalil alongside his brother, Ryan, along their offensive front. Minnesota chose to pass and look elsewhere.
It just so happened that Spielman and the Vikings signed their new left tackle from a NFC North rival, the Detroit Lions. Five years and $50+ million dollars richer, the former first-round pick in the 2012 draft, Riley Reiff, now finds himself protecting the blind side of quarterback Sam Bradford.
Minnesota was looking for stability, someone they could rely on every game to play consistently and remain healthy. Fortunately enough for them, Reiff has only missed three games throughout his five-year NFL career. The black and blue division is a natural fit for this South Dakota native, while already having collegiate ties with one of the best Vikings linebackers to play for Minnesota, Chad Greenway.
Detroit moved Reiff to the right side after drafting Taylor Decker from Ohio State, though Reiff had played left tackle for extent of his career. Getting back to his side of the line will hopefully result in Reiff playing at pro bowl like level for the Vikings, in hopes to prove Minnesota right in signing him to a massive deal.