The widely accepted theory revolving around this offseason plan for the Minnesota Vikings is that the left tackle position will be one of the highest (if not the highest) priority for Rick Spielman and company.
As things stand now, many fans believe Spielman will attempt to solve this particular problem by draft USC tackle Matt Kalil or Iowa tackle Riley Reiff.
Those beliefs are likely to stay intact until the Vikings make their first selection in April, or until another option suddenly surfaces that is too good to pass up.
One of those opportunities could come in the form of two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeil. According to a report from Kevin Acee, the San Diego Chargers are expected to clear $10 million in cap space by waiving McNeil in March.
In 2010 McNeil, regarded at the time as one of the top three left tackles in the game, signed a six year deal worth $48.98 million. According to Acee, however, the $24.5 million in guarantees McNeil receive apply only to skill and not to injury. Thus, if McNeil can’t pass a physical by March 15th then his contract is not guaranteed and the Chargers can cut him loose with minimal losses.
Since signing the big deal, McNeil has struggled with serious neck and back injuries and has played in only 20 of the last 32 games. Acee reports that McNeil is expected to fail his physicals prior to March 15th, and thus it appears likely McNeil hits the free market.
The Vikings will likely continue to perform due diligence on this year’s top rookie tackles, but if they end up deciding that a 28 year old injury risk veteran is less risky than what they see in these rookie prospects, it is a possibility that the Vikings show sincere interest in McNeil. He will undoubtedly be the top left tackle free agent available.
Of course, the most likely course of action remains the one that involves the Vikings using their first round draft pick on a stellar left tackle prospect this April.