[Note From Adam: I am happy to present with the first of (hopefully) many articles presented by Branden Lemke. Branden has been a Vikings blogger for a long time, having started the hit site "Lemke's Lot" when he was just 16 years old where he wrote hundreds of articles and conducted numerous player interviews. After that, he joined me at "Vikings Gab" for a while before taking some time away from blogging. I am thrilled that he is back at it now though, and that he contacted me to see if he could contribute here at VT. The answer was simple: "Of course!" Please welcome Branden with his first article, and we will all look forward to plenty more!]
Before I jump into the topic of free agency, I feel like I should introduce myself to you readers. My name is Branden Lemke, and I am 21 years old. I’ve worked with Adam in the past for previous sites, and am looking forward to writing with him again, and Brett for the first time. I used to run a Vikings blog called “Lemke’s Lot”, in which my articles consisted of both delivering breaking news, and pure speculation in terms of the NFL Draft, free agency, etc. I especially love writing offseason articles, because there’s always hope for your team to get better over the course of an offseason, and I like to explore realistic possibilities in which the Vikings could be looking to upgrade their team.
Vikings fans have already dealt with offseason drama this year, and it’s only the beginning of March. Of course, the number one story of this offseason so far coming out of Minnesota has been Percy Harvin. Are the Vikings going to keep him, or are they going to trade him? There seems to be several issues between Percy Harvin and the Vikings, including Percy wanting “Megatron” money. The only question is, are these issues able to get resolved in a way that will keep Harvin in purple? The Vikings aren’t going to give Percy Harvin a Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald salary, so what they end up doing with Percy in the end has a major effect on the moves they make in free agency and the draft. Either way, the Vikings will be looking for wide receivers this offseason, among other positions, so here are a few names I think the Vikings may consider adding:
(The order the players are listed in is not necessarily based on priority)
1. WR Brian Hartline- Miami Dolphins
I haven’t heard much Brian Hartline to Minnesota speculation, but I think Hartline would be a good fit, especially if we were to somehow find a way to re-sign Harvin. As much as I’d love to see a receiver like Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings in a Vikings uniform, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. The Vikings aren’t the kind of team that spends a lot of money in free agency, and although the price tag may be a little high for Hartline, he would be a good #2 wideout in this offense, and could compliment a guy we bring in through the draft like Keenan Allen or Quinton Patton. Hartline, who has struggled with inconsistency in the past, proved to me last year he can be the kind of factor the Vikings need. He pretty much WAS the Dolphins passing game in 2012, catching 74 passes for 1,083 yards. He only scored one touchdown, however, and his career high is only three in one season (2009). The upside is he is young (26), and has potential to be a downfield threat and a playmaker in the style of offense the Vikings run.
2. DT Cullen Jenkins- Philedalphia Eagles
It may be a while before the Vikings find another “Pat Williams” to compliment Kevin at the nose tackle position. I like Letroy Guion, but I think he should be a rotational guy at the defensive tackle position, because he shows he can be a very good player in certain defensive schemes. If the Vikings do not want to address the defensive tackle situation in the draft, although I think there is a very good chance they will considering the depth in this year’s class, they might look at bringing in a guy like Jenkins. The 4-3 package is not as common throughout the league as it once was, and Jenkins is familiar with the 4-3 style. Not only that, but in six starts in 2012 he recorded 4.5 sacks. Again, I think the Vikings will look to the draft for help at the defensive tackle position, but Jenkins could be a possibility.
3. LB Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars
This would be a questionable acquisition but it has a lot of potential to be a good one. Smith underwent surgery for his groin in October and missed most of the 2012 season, but he is one of the most underrated linebackers in the entire league in my opinion. Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson are both free agents, and chances are at least one of them will be back next year, but the Vikings will be looking to address the linebacker position. If the Vikings scouts and personnel believe Smith can fit their defense, I don’t see why they wouldn’t look at adding him. The price tag could be a little lower for Smith with him not playing since his surgery, and has potential to be a steal.
4. WR Danny Amendola- St Louis Rams
I honestly don’t see this happening because I think Amendola will be asking for more money than the Vikings are willing to pay, but the only possibility I see of us being interested in Amendola is if we end up trading Percy Harvin. Amendola is a solidified slot receiver that could be a replacement for Harvin if he were to be traded. It is still very, very early to tell if the Vikings will even consider Amendola, I’m just saying keep an eye on him as the Percy Harvin drama continues.
5. FS Louis Delmas- Detroit Lions
The thing I love about this offseason for the Vikings is, unlike previous years, the secondary is not a glaring issue. I think the Vikings nailed the 2012 draft picks early on by selecting Harrison Smith at the end of round one, and snagging Josh Robinson in the third round. I feel Smith was worth consideration for 2012 Defensive Rookie Of The Year, but Jamarca Sanford is set to become a free agent, and I don’t see the Vikings re-signing him with RT Phil Loadholt, MLB Jasper Brinkley, FB Jerome Felton, OLB Erin Henderson, and WR Jerome Simpson all set to become free agents as well, and the Vikings likely wanting to bring a few of them back. The Vikings face Delmas twice a year, so they already have a good idea of what kind of player he is. When healthy, Delmas can make some great plays in the secondary, and he is in his prime. I think he’d be a good fit for this defense because I just don’t see Mistral Raymond as an every-down free safety.