Friday, March 24, 2017

andre smith

The Road to 50 — About the Labor: Episode 50 (!!!!!)

BJ Reidell and Drew Mahowald discuss the Minnesota Vikings’ signings of Latavius Murray and Datone Jones, re-signing Adam Thielen and Terence Newman, the team’s six remaining internal free agents, the departures of Jeff Locke, Cordarrelle Patterson and Andre Smith and plenty more on Episode 50 (!) of About the Labor.

PRIMARY TALKING POINTS

  • The New Guys: Reviewing free-agent signings of EDGE Datone Jones and RB Latavius Murray
  • The Old Guys: Discussing the re-upped contracts of WR Adam Thielen and CB Terence Newman
  • The Exodus: Thoughts on the departures of P Jeff Locke, WR Cordarrelle Patterson and OT Andre Smith
  • The Other Stuff: Hashing over the Minnesota Vikings’ six remaining internal free agents

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Mike Remmers to Visit Vikings on Friday
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings landed Riley Reiff yesterday without knowing where he’d play tackle. Reiff has the unique qualification of starting on both the right and left side, giving the Vikings flexibility in future free agency pursuits.

If today’s reports are accurate, the Vikings see Reiff as the left tackle for the foreseeable future. According to Pro Football Talk, former Carolina Panthers tackle Mike Remmers is set to visit the Vikings this afternoon. Remmers will visit Minnesota today and Houston tomorrow (if necessary) but is expected to play right tackle wherever he signs.

Last season, Remmers started 16 games for the Panthers, with most coming at left tackle in relief of the injured Michael Oher. He allowed nine sacks and 49 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus. The numbers aren’t encouraging, but Remmers’ departure from Carolina signals a fresh start at right tackle for the five-year pro. Matt Kalil‘s arrival in Carolina also precludes Oher’s move to right tackle, thus squeezing Remmers out of the team’s plans.

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Improving the OL a top priority

T.J. Clemmings is the only Minnesota Vikings tackle under contract heading into free agency. Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, Jake Long, and Jeremiah Sirles—the rotation of subpar 2016 starters—are all set to hit the open market next week. Some will become restricted free agents, others exclusive rights, and a few unrestricted, but one thing remains true: the Vikings are lacking any sustainability at a position critical to long-term success.

That’s a problem.

Even if general manager Rick Spielman were to retain their talents, he’d still enter 2017 with arguably the league’s worst rotation of tackles. Fortunately, the Vikings are flush with cash, thanks in large part to the decision to forego Adrian Peterson’s future contract option.

The NFLPA also did the Vikings—and the rest of the NFL—a favor by raising the salary cap to $167 million. An increase of seven percent over the 2016 figure gives Spielman nearly $38 million to spend on premier tackles, running backs, and other positions of need — if he so chooses.

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Interest in OT Russell Okung

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman knows he needs to address his team’s offensive line woes. According to Jason La Canfora, Spielman isn’t wasting any time, as he’s already begun the search for help at tackle.

The Vikings join the New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, and New York Giants as potential suitors for Russell Okung, the recently-released Denver Broncos left tackle. Okung, a first-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2010, has started 88 games in his seven-year career. The 29-year-old veteran appeared in the 2012 Pro Bowl and finished 2016 as Pro Football Focus’s 38th-ranked tackle.

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Vikings to Work Out OL Jake Long
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

At some point, the injuries have to take their toll. The Minnesota Vikings continue to lose key starters, and yet, continue to win games. Mike Zimmer’s team is 5-0 and heads into the bye week as the NFL’s last remaining undefeated team.

They’ll have an extra week to get healthy, but that won’t stop the Vikings from preparing for the worst. As first reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Minnesota will host veteran tackle Jake Long for a workout in the coming days. Long last played for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015, appearing in just 11 snaps for the team.

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