Classic Minnesota Vikings Football
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings Free Agency: A few reasons not to panic.

In trying to gauge Minnesota’s fan base reaction to free agency thus far, it seems that there is about an even split between three broad categories: “Yay!” “Boo!” and “Yawn.”

Like everyone else, I get caught up in the anticipation and excitement leading up to free agency; like a kid on Christmas that hopes to see Santa left him his very own 70-inch 4K smart TV under the tree this year. I know there’s a super slim chance of that happening, but I also can’t help but get my hopes up.

Free agency has yet to yield any gifts quite so extravagant, and I can understand the disappointment expressed by many Vikings fans so far. Like any kid on the “Nice List,” however, I am grateful for what was left in the stockings this year anyway.

While I am admittedly going a little out of my way to keep things positive with this article, there are a few things I genuinely appreciate about Rick Spielman’s approach to free agency after the first big wave has come and gone.

5. Setting Up The Draft

The additions of Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers can (and will) be debated for their merits plenty this offseason and preseason, but regardless of what you (or I) believe the Vikings have purchased regarding talent, I do think they have bought something treasured: Draft flexibility.

With glaring weaknesses appearing to be filled, and only some secondary talents departing via free agency, Rick Spielman can now be considered unpredictable when it comes to his positional intent in the NFL Draft. We’ll talk plenty about “need” as the Draft approaches, but the Vikings have gone a long way towards narrowing the gap between positional talent gaps by adding these two offensive linemen.

Not only was the need for offensive tackles checked off the paper list, but I also think the signings did nothing to prevent the Vikings from drafting appealing offensive tackle talent if the opportunity arises. Both Reiff and Remmers provide positional flexibility—a willingness and ability to play multiple positions on the line—that should not prevent Spielman from taking a, for example, top left tackle prospect if available.

4. Setting Up Next Year’s Draft

The Vikings have lost “natural” unrestricted free agents Matt Kalil, Jeff Locke, Rhett Ellison, Captain Munnerlyn, and Audie Cole. They’ve only added two unrestricted free agents, so far, in Reiff and Remmers.

That means the football nerd in me is getting excited about finally having another possible chance at predicting what compensatory picks the Vikings will receive about 11 months from now. Of course, there is plenty of time for this to change and the secretive formula takes about a year to play out before results can be accurately predicted entirely, but it is still of note the Spielman is currently “plus three” in that formula.

Yes, that means if free agency ended today, I would expect three 2018 compensatory picks being awarded to the Vikings. They would probably be of the late-round nature, but still, they are a hidden value lost in all this that shouldn’t be ignored. Those picks are perhaps even more valuable this year, as they can now be traded like any other pick, which has never before been the case.

3. The Line Should Be Improved

I’m not a fan of the whole “nothing matters other than the line” analysis I’ve seen thrown out there, but I don’t discount how important it is that the blocking improve. On paper, I think Spielman has indeed accomplished that.

I believe the departure of Matt Kalil is an improvement in itself, to be honest. Personally, I think Rhett Ellison finding a new team is more problematic for this blocking unit than Kalil leaving.

Then, I think the additions of Reiff and Remmers are substantial additions that should bring some consistency and durability to an offensive line that is automatically better than last year if they have even a shred of, well… consistency and durability.

Remmers may not have us prepping our All-Pro articles around here, but I do appreciate that he can substantially fill the void left by Mike Harris (versatile swing tackle) if Spielman finds a right tackle that can beat him out for the job.

2. Nothing Too Crazy

According to Over The Cap, the Vikings contract to Remmers is worth up to $30 million over five years. $10.5 million of that is guaranteed. Those guarantees are mostly front-loaded and if this gamble doesn’t work out after a couple of seasons, the Vikings can part ways with minimal cap ramifications.

Remmers is 27 years old and hopefully has his best football still ahead of him.

 

Reiff’s deal is also over a five-year period, again according to Over The Cap, and worth up to a total of $58.75 million over that time. That $11.75 million per year average, along with a hefty $26.3 million in guarantees, is some serious money, without a doubt. Again, however, the guarantees are mostly front-loaded, and cap penalties drop drastically if Reiff hasn’t lived up to his contract after two seasons on the job.

Reiff is 28 years old and hopefully, has plenty of good football left ahead of him.

 

The hope is that both of these contracts look like steals two years down the road, of course, but if they don’t work out then the front office won’t be overly penalized for cutting bait. The players will need to play up to their contractual expectations to see those final years of their contracts, and if they do play that well, then these have probably been solid signings.

1. Still Plenty Of Opportunities

There are still plenty of talented free agents on the open market that could add to this roster in meaningful ways. Letting some of their players go and showing some level of restraint in the opening days of free agency can be hard to endure as fans, but the Vikings have left themselves with enough cap space to participate in the second round of free agency and also later waves of veteran cuts.

According to Over The Cap, the Vikings still have $26.9 million in cap space to work with. This should be enough to remain active and competitive in the open market, while also keeping enough in the bank to extend key members of the roster that will be needing it shortly.

There are still plenty of reasons to view the future as bright in Minnesota, and the organization can add multiple more reasons in the near future.

9 COMMENTS

  1. O line signings do take pressure off us from over reaching. Not desperate to take a tackle at 48 now, we can take a guard, would Love Freeney, RB, please not Mixon, or just our highest grade left on board

    Like(4)Dislike(0)
  2. They did what they needed to adding two healthy, durable starting level tackles. This was an extremely uninspiring group of free agent tackles, and whether it was by design or not, the Vikings scored two of the top three most durable players at the position in my opinion. I’m not thrilled about the talent level they are paying for, but it is an improvement and if they can get 16 games out of these two guys the continuity will make up for the talent gap. To me this off-season is showing that there was a shift in last years draft from filling immediate needs to planning for attrition. Treadwell takes over for Johnson, Alexander for Captain, Morgan for Ellison, and Brothers for Cole. Whether it works out or not is yet to be seen, but this is how you are supposed to manage a roster in the salary cap era.
    Moving forward I hope they will start putting some focus on visiting with some of the released players that won’t damage the comp pick formula. There are a bunch of DT’s and Center’s they should be looking at. DT depth is actually my biggest concern right now. I’m expecting Floyd to have his best season in his contract year, but they need injury insurance for both him and Linval. Tom Johnson was showing signs of decline before tearing up his knee late in the season, so I don’t know that they can count on him being that 3rd guy in.

    Like(4)Dislike(0)
  3. Good, reasonable round-up, Adam, and Mr. Russ is absolutely correct, the pressure to reach for an offensive tackle in a weak draft class has been relieved. The positions I would be looking at in the draft, assuming they are not addressed in free agency, are outside linebacker, nose tackle, guard and tight end. And no matter which running back we sign in free agency, we’ll probably need to draft one, two or even three RB’s, as well. If we make out like the Falcons did back in 1979, I’d be quite happy indeed.

    Like(1)Dislike(0)
  4. I’m absolutely thrilled with our FA so far. Our biggest need has been addressed with two durable, starting-caliber Tackles. Sure, we paid for them, especially Reiff, but Tackles are expensive this year and the pickings were slim. So far, so good. Now bring on the draft and lets get to the Super Bowl!

    Like(1)Dislike(0)
    • Of course everyone was hoping for Whitworth and Wagner, or Whitworth and Reiff, and Lang or Zeitler; but they saved almost $10M and gained two starting tackles that should be much improved over Smith and Kalil. I also look at the line being better just by the subtraction of Kalil, he will most likely be laughing all the way to the bank and much to the Panther’s chagrin. Remmers is a question mark, but still young and there is no reason to think he can’t be top 15. Everyone wanted top 3 for both tackle spots, I understand that. But it is not reasonable to expect one team to land the #1 free agent in multiple positions, let alone one. The Wilf’s have shown a willingness to top out the cap and Rick is doing what he can with the resources available. They still have the money to do some more INRE signing their remaining free agents (I know that there is one that will agree that keeping Zach Line is important.. SKOL brother Ole!!) Filling some voids with the departed 2nd stringers and retaining most of their remaining FA’s, plus paying their draft class, is still well within their means. Just my opinion, but the only departure so far that concerns me is Captain. Locke should have been cut loose two seasons ago. It is still possible that CP84 resigns with the Vikes, I hope he does. Almost humorous what is taking place regarding a certain RB that publicly stated that he thought he had earned his upcoming $18M.
      SKOL to all Vikes’ fans, and kudos to Adam for another good article.

      Like(4)Dislike(0)
      • Nice post luvvikings. I’m with you on ‘Flash’. he apparently isn’t getting must interest, so maybe we’ll get our Returner back cheap. Same with AD. Only if we can get him cheap but I’d rather cut ties and go for Mixon. Even Lacy, if he’s healthy. Lacy sure is much more useful in that he can both catch and block.

        Like(2)Dislike(0)
        • Thank you Fran, I have noticed and respected your posts. It is so hard to say with Adrian. I am thinking cut ties too despite all that he has done. It is just hard to imagine that he still has another 200 yard game or 1200 yard season considering his last half dozen or so games. He was noticeably less the last few games of 2015 despite his rushing for the entire season. It is just my opinion, but I have always thought the knock against his receiving abilities to be overblown, but he sure as heck cannot block to save his dear gramma’s soul. Mixon is an exciting prospect, some are comparing his tangibles to both Adrian’s and Zeke’s. High praise indeed. But many are also pointing to the need of a power back (I even read one that stated that Mixon was just a bigger version of McKinnon.) So, to that end, Lacey would be a nice addition if his ankle is ok. I am not concerned about his history with weight. He took his lumps on that issue the year before, showed up for camp in 2016 where he should be. I think a good indication that he gets it. I would find it hard to believe that the Vikes gave him a lowball offer, but he also does not want what Murray or Adrian are demanding. If not, there are some interesting big backs coming up in the draft too. SKOL Fran!!

          Like(1)Dislike(0)

Leave a Reply