The Best Remaining Free Agents: Who Should The Vikings Target?
Minnesota has had an interesting offseason so far in which we have seen a number of free agents leave for new teams, a pair of tackles highlight Rick Spielman’s hauls, a fair share of disappointments, and the (presumed) end of two very great Viking careers.
With that being said, the Vikings roster is far from complete, and our Question of the Week is a simple one today:
[quote_box_center]Who is your favorite free agent target still available that you want the Vikings to pursue?[/quote_box_center]
If I had to choose and couldn’t stand pat with the “I’m happy with the current haul” answer, I’d have to go with Ladarius Webb. The eight-year pro, who’s spent his entire tenure with the Ravens, made an early career as one of the NFL’s best slot cornerbacks. But injuries slowed his play, forcing Baltimore to move the veteran to safety in late 2015 and 2016. Webb proved capable enough in the role to start for the Ravens last season, but age and price quickly became more important to the front office than Webb’s capabilities. The team released Webb this offseason, making him an attractive option on the open market. Seeking a worthy counterpart to Harrison Smith, Minnesota reportedly expressed interest in Webb, though their pursuit never for further than said interest. Knowing he’s played slot cornerback—a need with Captain Munnerlyn gone—and has the ability to slide to safety, Webb could serve as a solid rotational piece for the Vikings. At the right price, he’d be a reasonable fit in Minnesota’s secondary.
I, like Austin, am not completely comfortable with the Vikings’ nickel cornerback situation. If they can add one more corner in free agency, those concerns will be alleviated, as it will give the team excellent positional depth and allow them the flexibility to bring along second-year man Mackensie Alexander as fast or slow as they like. It would also give them free reign in the draft; the Vikings have done a good job of plugging holes in free agency, reducing the burden to draft players at positions of need and giving them the freedom to take the best players available. Corner is the last box to check in that regard.
I do think Webb would be a fine addition, but I will hitch my wagon to another: Nickell Robey-Coleman. He, like Webb, has extensive experience at the nickel. But my reasons for choosing him are mostly related to his name. First, the first name: Nickell. Come on—it’s too perfect. Second, his last name is hyphenated, and studies have shown that individuals with hyphenated last names disproportionately achieve NFL success. This is a lineage that includes NFL greats such as Maurice Jones-Drew, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and many others, and I would love to see Robey-Coleman continue this proud tradition with the Vikings.
As it stands today, I am pretty satisfied with how the Vikings have handled free agency. I don’t necessarily believe they need to make another move, but, gun to my head, I’d have to say wide receiver Michael Floyd. Multiple DUIs have cost him both his job with the Arizona Cardinals and image around the league, but the home-town kid has plenty of natural talent and isn’t nearly the “problem child” the media has portrayed him as. While I don’t see this move actually coming to fruition, Floyd’s size and physicality would, in theory, add a dimension to the Vikings’ red-zone attack that Minnesota hasn’t had since Sidney Rice at a bargain price. Certainly wouldn’t hurt to sign a wide receiver after losing Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson to free agency either. The best-case scenarios for safety Jairus Byrd (New Orleans) and offensive tackle Ryan Clady (N.Y. Jets) also intrigue me.
I’m not overly impressed with what is left on the open market, there is no “must have” talent out there right now, in my opinion. With that being said, I would not mind at all if the Vikings further explored the veteran leadership and stout toughness that center Nick Mangold might bring to the table. The Vikings could add the 33 year old, who has been to seven Pro Bowls, and get even more short-term flexibility along an offensive line that is still seeking to find long-term solutions. Also, Mangold was released by the Jets, meaning he would not count against the Vikings compensatory pick possibilities in 2018.