The new NFL league year began at 4:00 PM eastern yesterday afternoon, allowing all teams to officially sign free-agents to their roster. At 4:01 PM, a mind boggling amount of contract signings had already been agreed upon throughout the entire league.
The Minnesota Vikings were certainly not shy about wanting to improve their roster yesterday. Spots were filled and depth was added as the Vikings are hoping their new players will help the team repeat as NFC North division champions in 2016.
Alex Boone, Guard
Boone figures to be an immediate starter for the Vikings in 2016 and most likely as their left guard. Formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, where he started 59 games in the past four seasons, Boone will provide some much needed tenacity Minnesota has been lacking on their offensive line in recent years.
Pro Football Focus ranked him as their 38th best guard in 2015, which was six spots better than Vikings left guard Brandon Fusco (44). Add the familiarity Boone has with new Minnesota offensive line coach Tony Sparano (held same position with 49ers in 2015), and an improvement seems to have been made on one of the team’s weakest units.
Alex Boone’s deal with #Vikings is 4 years, $26.8 million with $10M fully guaranteed. He’ll make $6.7M in 2016. Cap number also $6.7M.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 9, 2016
Travis Lewis, Linebacker
This signing seems to be strictly based on adding depth to a thin linebacking unit and providing more help for the Vikings special teams. Lewis is familiar to the NFC North, where he played for the Detroit Lions for the past three seasons.
Mike Harris, Guard
The Vikings are familiar with Harris since he was the team’s starting right guard last season. Reportedly, he had been looking for a two year contract from Minnesota but settled for a one year deal after the Vikings signed Boone.
Mike Harris said he was looking to sign a two-year deal but changed it to one year after Alex Boone move made.
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) March 9, 2016
Speaking of Boone, his signing should force Fusco to move back to his original position at right guard for 2016. It is looking like Harris and Fusco will have to battle it out this offseason to determine who becomes the starter for next season.
Emmanuel Lamur, Linebacker
After reportedly being in talks with various free-agents who formerly played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota only signed one on the first day of free agency. Lamur, like Lewis, will provide some much needed depth to the Vikings linebacker unit.
Unlike Lewis however, Lamur has a chance to start for Minnesota next season. In 2014, he started 13 games and recorded 97 total tackles. The Vikings have yet to re-sign linebacker Chad Greenway but Minnesota may have already replaced him with Lamur.
Kenrick Ellis, Defensive Tackle
After adding depth to the front line of their offense, the Vikings switched to the other side of the ball and re-signed Ellis. In his first season with Minnesota in 2015, Ellis provided relief the team’s interior defensive lineman when needed and will likely continue to do so again next season.
Michael Griffin, Safety
In what may have been the most surprising signing of the day to come out of Winter Park on Wednesday, the Vikings signed Griffin to a one year deal. The former Tennessee Titans safety will have to prove this offseason that he can become the team’s starting strong safety for 2016.
As the Titans starter for all nine of his seasons in the NFL, it would come as a surprise if Griffin was not Minnesota’s opening day starting strong safety for next season. His experience in the league could also prove to be very valuable to a young Vikings secondary that is slowly turning into one of the NFL’s best.
Michael Griffin’s 1-year, $2.5M deal with #Vikings included just $750K guaranteed. He can earn another $500K in incentives.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 10, 2016
Be sure to follow our live blog all day long again today to keep up with everything the Vikings do on the second day of NFL free agency.