Like most Vikings fans, I have already turned about 87% of my gaze towards the offseason, and thus I thought I would have some fun tonight and identify five pending free agents that I think the Vikings could benefit from pursing this offseason.
Of course, a lot will change between now and when free agency begins and some, if not all, of these guys are likely to be locked up by their current teams. I will have more well-researched and detailed free agency opinions as the time draws nearer, but in the meantime I thought I’d get the conversation started by identifying five guys (on the offensive side of the ball) that jumped out to me at first glance and may actually have a chance of landing on the open market. I’ll follow up soon with a similar list of defensive players.
1. Carl Nicks, G, Saints
At age 27, Nicks would be a solid investment for anyone looking to solidify their offensive line for the next six or seven years. He has been a dependable blocker for Drew Brees and is quite possibly the best guard in the game today. The Vikings could certainly use the help, especially if they want to see Christian Ponder stay healthy for an entire season. The current theory is that the Saints will have to use their franchise tag on Drew Brees, so it is possible that Nicks will actually hit the open market.
2. Ben Grubbs, G, Ravens
Like Nicks, Grubbs is only 27 so teams should have no problems giving this guy a hefty contract in exchange for a lengthy commitment to anchoring their offensive line. Grubbs could also end up hitting the open market since the Ravens may have to focus most of their attention on retaining Ray Rice. Grubbs is a lower profile player than Nicks, and missed almost the entire first half of this season with a toe injury, but he is a bulldozer when healthy. Imagine if the Vikings managed to get both Nicks and Grubbs to surround John Sullivan… hey, a guy can dream, right?
3. Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers
I have to admit, I like it when we take good (emphasis on the “good”) players from our division rivals. Finley is one of the most talented tight ends in football. The Vikings may lose both Jim Kleinsasser and Visanthe Shiancoe this offseason, and a combination of Finley and Kyle Rudolph would put us right up there with the Patriots when it comes to incredible duos at the position. Both of these guys are capable of more than just playing tight end, too, as they can help mask deficiencies in the offensive line with their blocking and also line up at wide receiver when needed. Bottom line: The Vikings need to add young talent regardless of position, and Finley is just that. The Packers may not want to invest the money he will surely ask for given the incredible amount of talent already surrounding Aaron Rodgers.
4. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
The Vikings have many playmakers in their offense, but they are really missing that true #1 receiver that is capable of keeping defenses honest by stretching the field. In addition to his obvious prowess as a receiver, Jackson could be a boost on special teams with his punt return abilities. Jackson is known for making some boneheaded mistakes and having attitude, but one can hardly blame him for getting discouraged in Philly this year after they spent nearly $100 million on free agents this year while ignoring his desire to stay with the team for long term. There is some feeling that he is on his way out of Philadelphia, and at age 25 he still has a number of years left in his prime.
5. Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers
The Vikings appeared in official NFL labor court documents as having agreed to a trade for Vincent Jackson in 2010, but the Chargers got cold feet and decided to keep him around. It appears big changes could be coming in San Diego, so it is possible that the 28 year old wide out will finally get his wish and become a free agent. Perhaps the Vikings still have interest in his services, especially after watching him put up 141 yards and three touchdowns against the Packers earlier this year. Jackson certainly seems capable of filling the top slot on the Vikings depth chart which is, as previously mentioned, in dire need of an upgrade.