Editors Note: This is a guest post from www.purplePTSD.com.
The quarterback position is a fairly important one in the NFL. We need no further evidence than to witness the countless articles and stories of speculation regarding the Vikings quarterback position this offseason. (In fact, lately A.J. McCarron has been the soup du jour) But the Vikings have other issues in their lineup that need to be addressed in early 2018, so I am going to throw caution to the wind and venture fearless speculation in that direction.
Suffice it to say, the Vikings are basically solid at long snapper (if Kevin McDermott comes back healthy) and punter (or are they?) this offseason and the rest of the team can use some improvement. Of course, that is the way it is with every team that falls short of their goal of a title. But it’s hard telling that with all the focus on QB right now. So here is a quick thumbnail round down of other positions the Vikings have needs in.
Tight end—This position has long been an injury-ridden one for the Vikings, even though starter Kyle Rudolph was relatively injury free this season (until the last few games). David Morgan is a good blocking tight end, but the unit needs some depth behind Rudolph in the pass-catching department. Plus, Rudy (who turns 29 in November) is no spring chicken any longer.
Running back—Dalvin Cook should return from injury (hopefully stronger than ever), but Jerick McKinnon wants to look for greener (i.e. starting) pastures. Latavius Murray has his role, but his being linked to Jet was how they succeeded in replacing Cook. The Vikings need depth to spell Cook so they don’t overuse him. For a deeper breakdown of the running backs, try this one.
Linebacker—The Vikings have found three starters, but with the top two coming up for contract renewal in the very near future, the position isn’t exactly solidified. They should start backfilling this unit as soon as possible in March and continue eying someone in the draft.
Offensive line—We saw what improvement in this unit did for the Vikings offense last season, but we also know you can never be set at the line either. Depth and more future starters need to be identified. The addition of center Pat Elflein in the draft was huge a year ago, and the Vikings need another move like that this April. Joe Berger may retire, the tackle depth needs to improve, and they probably need to start developing a young stud left tackle of the future.
Defensive line—We don’t know Brian Robison’s plans yet (and his productive last season as a swing player might motivate him to stay to finish out his contract), but the Vikings should find another tackle to play alongside Linval Joseph. Tom Johnson will be 34 by the start of the season and Shamar Stephen (who played well this past season) has had some injury concerns. The probably need to grab another defensive end that can disrupt opposing QBs (particularly if they sign Kirk Cousins and can’t re-sign Danielle Hunter).
Cornerback—If Trae Waynes takes another step in his development (and so does Mackensie Alexander) the Vikings should be good at the position, but they should think about depth. The ageless wonder Terence Newman may want to come back, but his age is going to become a liability soon. The time is now to prepare for his departure. And as head coach Mike Zimmer, you can never have enough good corners.
Safety—Andrew Sendejo has a team-friendly contact this season ($3.5 million), and, after his 2017 season, that is a nice number. Next season it jumps up $5.5, and Sendejo, who is 30, will have to improve on 2017 to get an even bigger contract after that. Anthony Harris and Jayron Kearse are in the pipeline, but they should have wormed their way into more starting time (rather than just injury replacement and special teams) by now. The Vikings will look hard at this position this offseason.
Kicker—I like Kai Forbath, but the Vikings probably need to find someone that Zimmer really likes. Forbath is not bad, but the Vikings should kick some tires on kickers of footballs both in free agency and the draft. Make sure there is some pressure on Forbath throughout the OTAs and camp. Dial up the pressure and see if he can handle it.
Oh, and then there is quarterback. Nothing gets done until they decide on that issue (see even I couldn’t avoid talking about it), and now that the team has an offensive coordinator that is the next step. John DeFilippo likes a quarterback that can move around in the pocket, which takes the team’s (and my) emphasis away from Sam Bradford. Zimmer called him the best pure passer on the roster late last year (and jumped him ahead of Teddy Bridgewater in the playoffs), but the position in the modern-day NFL requires a bit more.
Many like Cousins, and even DeFilippo chimed in on it, but I now see them signing Case Keenum to a decent (but not outlandish deal) and if Teddy’s contract is tolled, bring him in for a “prove it” training camp, with assurances of a raise if he beats out Keenum. That is all pie in the sky at this point (as is all the other speculation), but I don’t see them paying $25-30 million a year for Cousins and foregoing all the other needs on the team we have just enumerated here.
The Vikings are in a “win-now” position. And keeping two quarterbacks familiar with the organization (and bringing in an OC who likes to design his offense around the QBs rather than the other way around), seems like the most win-now way to go. But if Cousins is willing to win now with a more team-friendly number, than I would be more open to that signing. I just don’t see it happening, however. Even though many others do.