The first step in the Vikings offseason will have to be to look at themselves, as a front office and as a coaching staff, to see if any major changes are needed. Considering the surprising success of this season, coupled with an apparent lack of interest in our coaches from teams with vacancies, I would venture a guess at this point that nothing major is coming.
So, assuming our schemes stay relatively close to what we saw in 2012, I have decided to list and rank the Vikings pending free agents. As I usually do, I have taken a “world view” approach to ranking these players which means talent is only one of the factors taken into consideration. Age, projected cost, injury history, and other factors have also played into these rankings.
So, without further ado, here are how I rank the Vikings 2013 free agents from best to worst:
Jamarca Sanford, S: Yes, I have listed a part time player in the top spot. No, I am not crazy… I don’t think. The Vikings secondary made huge strides this season and I just feel like they cannot afford to take a step backwards, and there are no guarantees they will be able to take a step forwards as options are limited and they have bigger fish to fry. If they do get their hands on a starter that is superior to Sanford or Mistral Raymond then great, Sanford is a fine special teamer that shouldn’t cost a ton to retain. He plays the run very well, flying around the field, and has a knack for causing fumbles. He is a liability in coverage, and can’t seem to catch a football to save his life, but there is no reason the Vikings shouldn’t keep him around to ensure, at the very least, that some depth is maintained at the safety position.
Jerome Felton, FB: Wild card weekend was proof, in each game played, that the fullback position is not dead at all. Felton proved this all season long, however, as he paved the way for Adrian Peterson’s incredible season. Rick Spielman reportedly told Felton that the team wanted him back, but money could be a sticking point, especially since the Vikings have a decent backup option in Rhett Ellison. Ellison’s presence, other free agent options, and Felton’s DWI charges from last offseason are the only reasons he doesn’t sit atop this list.
Phil Loadholt, RT: On most lists you will probably find Loadholt listed as the top free agent that the Vikings have pending. This was certainly his best pro season in a number of ways. In fact, it has been reported that the front office approached Loadholt about an extension in the middle of this last season. I worry about a player, however, that seems to play much harder during his contract year. Also, the fact that no mid-season extension was agreed upon suggests to me that Loadholt is hoping to get more money than the Vikings are willing to shell out. Lastly, there are a number of very good tackles set to become free agents this offseason, so if the Vikings are going to back up the money truck then perhaps they should be looking to do so for a player that demonstrates more consistency. In the end, however, Loadholt is worth a decent (but reasonable) contract and the Vikings will give serious thought to getting a deal hammered out in the coming months.