The Minnesota Vikings just underwent a very disappointing 8-7-1 season and missing the playoffs; a year after making the NFC Championship game.
The Vikings had the mentality that they were on piece away from bringing the Lombardi Trophy home. With signing QB Kirk Cousins and star DT Sheldon Richardson, they thought they were sure contenders for the title. Their team was definitely built for that. Many experts predicted them to win it all. No one had expected what happened what happened this season.
The offensive line was absolutely awful. Kirk Cousins was under pressure all of the time. Kirk also struggled against winning teams, which is not exactly a recipe for success. This off-season is critical for the future of this organization.
The top priority this off-season will be the offensive line. The Vikings should look into releasing Mike Remmers. He was graded as the NFL’s 49th best guard and is set to have a salary cap hit of $6.35 million in the 2019 season.
Some other people that I feel like will be released or traded:
Trae Waynes (9 mil) – The Vikings have Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes and Hilton hill. Xavier Rhodes did have a little bit of a regression 2018, but it was full of injuries and his recovery seemed lile it was rushed. I have hope that he can return to glory this year. Mackensie Alexander showed promise in coverage, but also in the pass rush, having the most sacks out of all cornerbacks. Mike Hughes showed amazing potential before his season-ending ACL injury, as he had also caught a pick-six Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers. Holton Hill was probably one of the biggest surprises off the season. He came in as a UDFA (undrafted free agent), and he was solid in coverage when coming in for the mant injuries that riddled the secondary. Trae Waynes is expected to draw significant trade interest this off-season. An ideal trade for me would be trading him to Oakland. I would trade Trae Waynes, Everson Griffen (who I’ll get to later), plus a 2020 Third Round pick for the 24th pick in the draft. We can then use that pick for potentially another offensive lineman, or potentially another cornerback. Mike Zimmer seems to have drafting a cornerback every year a part of his “master plan.” Some cornerbacks we could go after could include Clemson CB Trayvon Mullen, or Penn State CB Amani Oruwariye.
Rudolph (7.5) mil – The Vikings have expressed interest in Iowa TE Noah Fant who has many great skillsets that could help the team significantly. Kyle Rudolph has been productive, but hasn’t really been showing up lately. If I was a betting man, I would say that Kyle Rudolph will not be suiting up from the Vikings, as I heard that he is not interested in restructuring his contract. Kyle Rudolph could be used as trade bait, or he could potentially be simply released.
Andrew Sendejo (5.5 mil) – The Vikings had an absolute breakout season by S Anthony Harris. “Ant Man” was one of the top rated safeties according to PFF (Pro Football Focus). Harris is currently a RFA (Restricted Free Agent) and could be brought back to the team at around the same price as Sendejo. Andrew Sendejo has been killed hy injuries and Harris is younger and has more promise. It doesn’t really make sense to be paying someone who would probably be spending a lot of time on the bench that much.
Everson Griffen (11 mil) – I’ve written am article already on the situation with Everson Griffen. Everson Griffen is 31 years old and on a large contract. On July 26, 2017, Griffen signed a four-year, $58 million contract extension ($34 million guaranteed) with the Vikings through the 2022 season. Releasing him could have the Vikings receiving $10.7M in cap space and would only face $1.2M of dead money if they did decide to release Everson. The Vikings already have superstar DE Danielle Hunter, who has already shown he is one of the premiere pass rushes in the league. Stephen Weatherly, who was the main backup for Griffen, also showed a ton of promise. Griffen, like Kyle Rudolph, was reportedly not interested in restructuring his contract. Everson Griffen has also been potentially used as trade bait. I mentioned how we could use him in a trade to Oakland.
If we do all of those moves, the Vikings can free up about $30 million. That sounds pretty good to me, in my opinion. This then takes me to free agency.
The Vikings have expressed interest in C Matt Paladis. Signing him would move likely C Pat Elflein to guard. This already would help the Vikings oline significantly. The Vikings already have OT Brian O’Neill, so we have two young guys in Eflein and O’Neill and signing Paradis would be a huge boost.
LB Za’darius Smith deleted all of his posts and started following the Vikings, so that would be a pretty good signing considering Anthony Barr will probably be leaving in free agency.
The Vikings should also go after Trent Brown. According to cbssports.com, “Brown is coming off an outstanding season in New England where he ranked third among all tackles in Points Earned, per SIS. He’s consistently been an excellent pass-blocker, but this year his run blocking took a step forward as well. If the Patriots let him get to the open market, he should land the biggest deal of the offseason for any offensive lineman.” If the Vikings can afford him, get him.
If the Vikings can pull off those three moves, that would be a perfect free agency for me.
This turns my attention to the draft. This would be my perfect 7-Round Mock draft.
1st (pick 18) – OL Cody Ford
1st (pick 24) – TE Noah Fant
2nd (pick 50) – LB TJ Edwards
3rd (pick 81) – DT Terry Beckner Jr.
4th (pick 114) – OG Michael Jordan
5th (pick 144) – WR Tandon Doss
6th (pick 178) – QB Jarrett Stidham
6th (pick 209) – OT Andre James
7th (pick 247) – OLB Deshaun Davis
You can see that the Vikings trade for a 1st (the trade I explained earlier) and they also trade for a 5th, which is for a 2020 5th and and a 2019 7th for a 2019 5th Round pick. If the Vikings have a draft similar to this, I think we’ll be in good shape.
If the Vikings can pull off all of these moves that I explained, I think the Vikings will be back in shape to contend for years to come in the future.