The Minnesota Vikings have a lot of room to grab some free agents, especially if they let Adrian Peterson walk. They have $23 million after releasing Brandon Fusco and Mike Harris on Friday, and that will rise to $40 million should Peterson not return. Whatever the Minnesota Vikings free agency picture looks like, it will be critical to their success next year.
Minnesota Vikings Free Agency Moves the Team Needs to Make
What should they do with that $40 million? The injury-riddled offensive line should be a priority, but what about the receiving corps? In part, that depends on Cordarrelle Patterson, and whether he is back in the mix, and the young Laquon Treadwell, the team’s 23rd pick last season.
The Receiving Corps
Treadwell had a disappointing season, to say the least. He finally got his first catch, and then went down with a special teams injury against Jacksonville. “I was feeling more comfortable, and they was ready to put me out there, but I just went down on special teams,” Treadwell said. “That’s a tough break for me, but you’ve got to get healthy and come back ready.”
There’s definitely a psychology behind coming back from an injury, and the mind needs to recover as much as the body does. It’s unknown how much support Laquon Treadwell is getting. Mike Zimmer said he was not giving up on him, and stated: “He is very quick in and out of his breaks, he has good acceleration, he’s a good stop and start guy, I think he’s going to be a good player.”
But with players like Kenny Britt or Terrance Williams, both similarly sized receivers available to fill his role, what the Vikings do will speak volumes. Picking up one of these players would definitely leave Treadwell on the outside looking in.
One variable we do know will be different this season is the coaching staff. George Stewart, the wide receivers coach, took a job with the Chargers. It was never clear if Treadwell was on the same page with Norv Turner and Stewart, but new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has a completely different leadership style and may be just what Treadwell and Patterson if he sticks around, need.
If there is anything the Vikings have been consistent about, it is their defense, or lack thereof, against the run. Of course, there are many reasons a run defense will suffer. A team is more likely to give up yards when they are behind, somewhere the Vikings spent a lot of time this season.
But still, you have to be able to stop the run in the first place, and the last time the Vikings had a top ten run defense was 2010, when Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier were coaching. The Vikings should look at Von Miller and Kawann Short, both likely to be available. If not either of these, Jabaal Sheard of the Patriots showed up as a great pass rusher and run defender this year and should be somewhere on the list.
At least once, a missed extra point cost the Vikings the game this season. The poor percentage of successful kicks caused Blair Walsh to be cut midseason and Kai Forbath brought in to replace him. But Forbath was not much better and was on track to miss just as many, or more, extra points than Walsh did.
There are a couple of good options in this area. The Vikings could pick up an aging, but seemingly timeless Adam Vinatieri, although he does not handle kickoffs. However, his incredible successful percentage makes him still pretty desirable, and he should have at least a few good years left in him.
Or they could go the other way, and grab Greg Zuerlein, who despite an injury in 2015 has made a good comeback, and provided he regains his old form, should make a huge difference in the kicking game of any team that acquires him.
To be a real contender next year, the Vikings need to make the best use of free agency and the draft this offseason. The Minnesota Vikings free agency moves will determine whether or not they will make the playoffs in 2017.