Although the Minnesota Vikings have been relatively quiet in free agency, they’ve made a few moves that could have lasting impacts heading into the 2015 season.
Splashy trades, surprising releases, and expensive free agent signings usually dominate headlines, but sometimes, the smaller, less-publicized transactions make or break a team’s season.
At the start of free agency, the Vikings retained a key special teams player — long snapper Cullen Loeffler. Loeffler may go generally unrecognized on Sundays, but his value to the punt team and field goal unit is critical to success and consistency in the kicking game.
Tom Johnson, a critical contributor on the defensive line last season, received a healthy pay raise in free agency, signing a 3-year contract worth $7 million. Mike Zimmer relies heavily on rotation, and Johnson thrived behind Sharrif Floyd in 2014, recording 6 sacks in just 438 snaps.
The Vikings also made major changes behind Teddy Bridgewater, trading Matt Cassel to the Bills and signing former St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill. Hill will serve as Bridgewater’s backup in 2015, replacing Cassel and the departed quarterback’s $4.75 million cap number.
On the offensive line, Minnesota retained Joe Berger, a valuable backup who started 9 games for injured right guard Brandon Fusco in 2014. The 32-year-old lineman can rotate at any of the three interior offensive line positions and may compete for the starting left guard position barring any changes in the draft or free agency.
Late last week, Rick Spielman pulled the trigger on an unexpected trade, acquiring wide receiver Mike Wallace from the Miami Dolphins for a 2015 5th-round draft pick. The next day, Spielman wasted no time shaking up the position, releasing veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings and eliminating his $45 million contract.
In lesser news, the team re-signed swing tackle Mike Harris to a one-year contract on Tuesday morning.
We want to know, Vikings fans:
Which move will have the greatest impact on the Vikings next season?