Saturday, October 22, 2016

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Rick Spielman and the Minnesota Vikings fan base appear to be on the same page when it comes to upgrading the offensive line this offseason. The most clear evidence comes in the form of “tampering period” reports and rumors suggesting that the Vikings are willing to offer a significant contract to guard Kelechi Osemele.

This report comes after the Vikings made a series of offseason moves proving they plan to improve their blocking situation, which started with the acquisition of line coach Tony Sparano. On Monday, they also successfully convinced right tackle Phil Loadholt to return on a greatly reduced salary, while also retaining the young Carter Bykowski.

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The Vikings entered the offseason with two exclusive rights free agents: Adam Thielen and Carter Bykowski.

Players designated with the “ERFA” status have no choice but to play another season for their former team if that team wants to retain them at a set price. Well, unless they want to retire from the NFL, that is.

The Vikings have retained the services of both of these guys as of Monday afternoon, according to a press release distributed by the team.

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Fullback Zach Line won’t ever get the blockbuster deal that dominates headlines during the NFL’s free agency news cycle, but you can’t hold positional value against him too much.

In an age where the fullback position is listed as an endangered species (or should be) in the NFL, Line has proven plenty capable of being one of the best among the guys still talented enough to be employed. Line might have a limited role within the Vikings offense, but he plays that role well, and we listed him as our second most important free agent the Vikings have this offseason.

Line is a restricted free agent and the Vikings have opted to place a tender on him, according to a press release from the Minnesota Vikings, giving the team the right to first refusal should he sign an offer sheet with another team.

Part 1

undrafted NFL free agent
Image courtesy of Jerrod Black

The iPhone illuminates the cabin of a pitch-black Chevy Tahoe. It’s one o’clock in the morning, and Jerrod Black’s eyes dart from clip to clip. He’s watching game film, training videos, anything he can get his hands on. Cars flash by on the quiet road and crickets buzz in the grass, breaking the silence within Jerrod’s truck. He’s hyper-focused on the screen in front of him, analyzing every step, get-off, and rip or swim.

This quiet moment outside of 4th and Inches Sports Performance is the culmination of a years-long journey for Jerrod. He’s an undrafted NFL free agent, one of hundreds each year who miss their chance to play football on Sunday afternoons. But living in his car isn’t a deterrent for Jerrod — it’s the ultimate motivation.

“Not having an actual house, bed, or couch, you become even more grateful for the little things,” he said. “When you’re sitting in your truck at 1 am, sitting in front of the gym you spent eight hours at that day, you convince yourself it’s worth it and envision yourself doing good things.”

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