And other Free Agency thoughts
Say what you will about Eddie Lacy’s eating habits or his love of Chinese food, but the former Packers running back is a perfect fit for the Minnesota Vikings. In his five-year career, he’s gained more than 3,400 yards and scored 23 times, averaging 4.4 yards per carry in Green Bay’s pass-happy offense.
Nevermind his weight; Minnesota knows all too well how effective Lacy can be on the ground. In seven games against the division rival Vikings, Lacy amassed 618 yards and scored five touchdowns to contribute to Green Bay’s four series victories. At 5’11” and 231 pounds, he’s a load to bring down and the potential “thunder” to complement the “lightning” that is Jerick McKinnon in Minnesota’s backfield.
Late last night, Chris Tomasson staked out at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where he caught a glimpse of Lacy arriving in the Twin Cities. Although the free agent back declined to comment, Tomasson reported what all expected to take place this weekend: Lacy is in town to visit with the Vikings.
Like so many others—either because of rival disdain or sticker shock—I immediately wrote off the Lacy talk as wishful thinking. I didn’t trust his constant bout with weight, worried about his recent ankle injury, and couldn’t see the Vikings spending additional dollars on a high-profile running back like Lacy.
But the soft market for ballcarriers— Jamaal Charles and Latavius Murray remain unsigned—and Adrian Peterson’s hazy future in Minnesota swayed my thinking. And early last month, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported Lacy would likely have to settle for a bargain deal in free agency; somewhere around the one-year, $2 million mark.
The Vikings have more than enough cap space to add a player like Lacy, even after signing Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers to monster contracts early in free agency. Spotrac, an oft-cited resource on Vikings Territory, calculates Lacy’s market value at $2.8 million per year; a figure Minnesota should have no problem paying to a back with proven ability in the league.
Some may argue this year’s draft class is loaded with NFL-ready talent, and while that may be true, stocking up at a position of need (on the cheap) is the smart play for the Vikings. Right now, McKinnon, Bishop Sankey, and C.J. Ham are the only rostered backs and have just 25 combined starts.
Why not spend some of the remaining $26 million in cap space on Lacy, weaken the Packers’ roster in turn, and use one of a handful of picks to grab the back you like late in the draft? Given Lacy’s relative youth, proven production, and fit in Pat Shurmur’s offense alongside McKinnon, ensuring he doesn’t leave Minneapolis has to be at the top of Minnesota’s priorities.
As of now, things seem to be trending in a positive direction.
Audie Cole signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
Tomasson reports the Vikings had a mild interest in re-signed Cole, who departed the team after five seasons for sunny Jacksonville. His exit is part of a larger exodus from Minnesota; since the start of free agency, the Vikings have lost Matt Kalil, Captain Munnerlyn, Charles Johnson, Rhett Ellison, and Jeff Locke to other franchises. Without Cole, the Vikings have just five linebackers on the roster in Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Edmond Robinson, Emmanuel Lamur, and Kentrell Brothers.
Detroit Lions add T.J. Lang, continue OL fortification
Like the Vikings, the Lions made a splash along the offensive line in free agency. But ask most experts—and average joes like myself—and they’ll tell you the Lions reaped the greater rewards. Early Sunday morning, former Green Bay Packers guard T.J. Lang signed a three-year deal with the Lions to join Ricky Wagner as the team’s second high-profile signing. Detroit’s improvements up front better their chances against Mike Zimmer’s fearsome pass rush this season.