Tuesday, August 4, 2015

josh robinson

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Only a few days remain until the 2015 NFL Draft, so looking ahead to the 2016 free agency situation seems incredibly far away. It’s worth being aware of, however, because the Vikings have 23 players entering the final year of their contract this season.

On top of those 23, keep this in mind: 2012 first-round pick Harrison Smith has a fifth-year option in his contract, which gives the Vikings another 16 games to make any long-term decisions. According to ESPN, GM Rick Spielman has until May 3 to decide on the extra year. It seems safe to say at this point, however, that Spielman will go to lengths to keep Smith in purple, and it could be costly. The safety’s current deal is worth $7.14 million.

There will be a lot of decisions to be made regarding re-signing, restructuring, or saying “good-bye” to lots of roster members, so let’s see who will be free agents prior to the 2016 season:

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

SPECIAL TEAMS

*will be a restricted free agent

Let’s take a look at a few of the more notable players on this list…

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings seem to be looking very closely at this year’s top cornerback prospects and, unless your name is Xavier Rhodes, current Vikings cornerbacks have to feel at least a little uneasy about their job security and position on the depth chart.

Second-year hopeful Jabari Price made himself more expendable arrested for suspicion of driving impaired back in December, so he certainly seems like a candidate for the “bubble” battles coming up in Mankato.

Price had his charge reduced to careless driving this last Wednesday and agreed to 30 days of electronic home monitoring, paid a $300 fine, and has entered a substance abuse education program, according to Access Vikings. It is also worth noting that he has passed each of his drug tests leading up to Wednesday’s court appearance.

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Which Special Teams Player will Stand Out for the Vikings in 2015?

Darren: Adam Thielen 
Thielen might be the common answer here, but as long as he keeps his place on the roster in 2015, he should make the biggest impact on special teams. He seems to be in on more special teams tackles than any other Viking and also made an impact with a blocked punt and a touchdown against Carolina last season. Minnesota could even opt to help out its secondary by dumping Marcus Sherels, which would slide Thielen into the job of punt returner, where he has flashed some skills in preseason.


Andy:
[Punter to be Named Later]
Jeff Locke has to step it up in year three or he’s gone. Yes, he’ll probably benefit greatly from kicking indoors in 2016, but the Vikings can’t wait that long. He needs to start being an asset instead of a liability in the field position game this season, or he’ll be replaced. There will be improvement at the punter position in 2015. Whether that’s because Locke’s improved (having a familiar long snapper might help if McDermott beats out Loeffler) or because he’s been replaced is yet to be determined.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings head into 2015 with one of the league’s best young cornerbacks, but still lack adequate depth at the position —depth which may be addressed late in the NFL Draft.

Xavier Rhodes blossomed in his sophomore season last year, finishing with 18 pass breakups and his first career interception. In Mike Zimmer’s defense, he showed the ability to shadow receivers like Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffery while cutting down on “grabby” man coverage techniques.

On the other side of the field, Captain Munnerlyn suffered through his worst season in the NFL. As a free agent signing from the Carolina Panthers in 2014, the 5’9″, 195-pound Munnerlyn was expected to step in and fill a pressing need opposite Xavier Rhodes. Although he finished the season with 2 interceptions, Munnerlyn struggled on the outside, and Zimmer may look to make him a pure slot corner in 2015.

“He has the chance to fall into the draft’s middle rounds and surprise many NFL teams.”

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For this week’s Vikings fan spotlight, we’re featuring a very special person—not only is Richard Holmstrom a long-time fan of the purple and gold, but he’s also a long-time fan of Vikings Territory!

In fact, Holmstrom first met Adam Warwas (founder of VT) and became a fan of his writing before Vikings Territory even developed.

“A bunch of us [readers] here at VT were all originally over at the Star Tribune site, ‘Access Vikings,’ including Adam,” Holmstrom explained. “Adam kept sneaking in links to his own blog, and one day I clicked on it. Lo and behold, there was some good stuff there! I’ve been reading his stuff ever since.”

Holmstrom added that he met the Warwas family when he lived in Alaska, and the two of them went fishing and spent time at Holmstrom’s lodge. He described Adam as “a really good dude.”

Although his family is originally from Minnesota, Holmstrom grew up in California. Despite spending his childhood on the west coast, however, he has been a Vikings fan from a young age.

“I was always fascinated by Vikings, as they were supposedly my ancestors,” Holmstrom said. “My Dad was an LA Rams fan, so naturally, I was too. . .until I heard about a new NFL team being formed named the Minnesota Vikings—that was it for me!”

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