Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[Note:  This segment is a part of a position-by-position look at what the Minnesota Vikings might be inclined to do during the 2015 free agency period.  This is the third article, focusing on the fullbacks.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterback preview here and the running backs are here.]

If there was any real potential for drama at the fullback position this offseason, it was pretty much erased when Jerome Felton made it clear that he would be opting out of his contract. By doing so, he will sign with a team that almost certainly will keep him on the final roster, something that could be in question with the Vikings despite his status as a Pro Bowl caliber player.

The Vikings will gain about $2.5 million in cap space with Felton choosing to leave and have Zach Line waiting in the wings to pick up the slack.  Tight end Rhett Ellison is also equipped to take some fullback snaps if needed.

Rick Spielman may not be inclined to invest as heavily in the fullback position as he did prior to Norv Turner taking over on offense, but here is a look at the expected free agents listed from oldest to youngest:

John Kuhn FB 32 GB TBD $1,051,875 UFA
Jackie Battle FB 31 TEN TBD $570,000 UFA
Will Tukuafu FB 31 SEA TBD $341,470 UFA
Tyler Clutts FB 30 DAL TBD $645,000 UFA
Montell Owens FB 30 CHI TBD $150,882 UFA
Jerome Felton FB 28 MIN TBD $2,127,452 UFA
Jed Collins FB 28 DET TBD $710,000 UFA
Will Ta’ufo’ou FB 28 JAC TBD $570,000 RFA
John Conner FB 27 NYJ TBD $435,882 UFA
Jorvorskie Lane FB 27 TB TBD $384,706 RFA
Henry Hynoski FB 26 NYG TBD $1,000,000 UFA
Will Johnson FB 26 PIT TBD $570,000 RFA
James Develin FB 26 NE TBD $570,000 RFA
Joe Martinek FB 26 NYG TBD RFA
Todd Anderson FB 26 STL TBD RFA
Jamize Olawale FB 25 OAK TBD $570,000 ERFA
Patrick DiMarco FB 25 ATL TBD $570,000 ERFA
Cory Harkey FB 24 STL TBD $570,000 ERFA

The salary amount shown in the table is in regards to 2014.

I could see the Vikings being interested in a number of these guys, and that could include bringing Felton back, especially if they really will make an honest effort to lure Adrian Peterson back into the fold. Felton may have overplayed his hand in terms of making more money in 2015, as teams no longer value the lead blocker, but he could also be looking for long-term security.

A few notes about this list:

HENRY HYNOSKI:  He is two years younger than Felton and arguably the only guy on this list that is a better lead blocker. For my money, Hynoski is easily a top three NFL fullback and it’d be a mild surprise if the Giants let him walk.

JOHN KUHN:  I’m always in favor of stealing popular Packers (other than Favre, I was never in favor of that) and so setting up a Kuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhn touchdown at Lambeau next season would have to be a priority for Norv Turner.  Kuhn’s age is a detractor, but not overly concerning right now.

JOHN CONNER:  I had such high hopes for Conner, but he hasn’t been anything special so far in his career.  Maybe a change of scenery is what he needs.

PREDICTION

In the end, I think Felton leaves for a larger role, and the Vikings are content to give Line a shot.  They certainly will not break the bank at fullback and could very well not add anyone else this offseason.  If they do, expect it to be a lower-level free agent or undrafted rookie.

This is Line’s job to lose.