Oh My Guard! Vikings Have Needs Other Than Quarterback

Quarterback is important, but so are the trench-men.

Lost in the swirling speculation and rumors surrounding the Minnesota Vikings‘ quarterback situation are the other positions on the roster that need to be filled.

Offensive guard is one of them.

It was assumed Joe Berger would retire following the season. Instead, the veteran announced he will return for a 14th season. It’s unclear whether or not the Vikings have interest in re-signing the 35 year-old. If so, he would be the presumed starter at his old position, right guard. At this point, however, it appears the Vikings seem content with allowing Berger to test free agency on March 14th.

Jeremiah Sirles will reportedly become an unrestricted free agent. His agent recently told local media the Vikings will not offer the lineman an RFA tender. Although Minnesota plans to offer Sirles a contract in free agency, they made need to out-bid other teams for his services. Sirles will likely receive a fair amount of interest on the open market considering his versatility (he can play tackle or guard), relative youth (26), and prototypical size (6-foot-6, 315 pounds).

Nick Easton, the starting left guard in 2017, is also a restricted free agent. Easton, who is coming off a season-ending ankle fracture, could receive a low-round tender of $1.9 million from the Vikings, but it would be in the team’s best interest to extend Easton and avoid the inflated cap number. Easton made $615,000 in 2017.

Guard/center Josh Andrews was signed shortly after the season, but Danny Isidora is the only true guard the Vikings have under contract in 2018.

Regardless of Berger’s potential return, the team will need to find a replacement in addition to depth. Free agency has a couple intriguing players, but not many upper echelon options. The draft, however, is considered deep with interior offensive linemen. Here are some of the top options that will be available to the Vikings this offseason.

Free agent options

Draft prospects

  • Quenton Nelson (Age 22, 6-foot-5, 330 lbs.), projected round: Top-10
  • Billy Price (Age 23, 6-foot-4, 312 lbs.), projected round: 1-2
  • Isaiah Wynn (Age 22, 6-foot-2, 308 lbs.), projected round: 1-2
  • Will Hernandez (Age 22, 6-foot-3, 330 lbs.), projected round: 1-2
  • Braden Smith (Age 21, 6-foot-6, 305 lbs.), projected round: 2-3
  • Frank Ragnow (Age 21, 6-foot-5, 320 lbs.), projected round: 3-5

Vikings Territory will take an in-depth look at these prospects in the days leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft.

Defensive tackle is another position the Vikings need to address. We’ll take a look at team’s DT situation, as well as available options in free agency and the draft later this week.

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Sean Borman

Sean Borman is a writer with Minnesota roots that's still somehow an optimist. He was an intern with the Vikings during college and previously wrote for Rant Sports. You can find Sean on the golf course and on Twitter @SeanBoarMan.

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  1. “Free agency has a couple intriguing players, but not many upper echelon options.”

    Okay, Sean, technically you are correct that there are not “many” upper echelon guards available in free agency, but it’s got to be pretty darn unusual to have two of the top five or six guards in the league both available in free agency at the same time – Norwell and Sitton – plus Mewhort and Fulton, plus Justin Pugh (63 starts the last five years, but only eight games played last year) and Josh Kline (28, 43 starts the last three years), which makes for more than only “a couple intriguing players,” if you ask me. My guess is that Spielman will avoid the guys with the obvious injury concerns, i.e., Mewhort and Pugh. I’d love to see him go after Norwell or Sitton – Berger isn’t the only guard to make it to his mid-30’s, so Sitton’s age shouldn’t be much of a concern – because they would represent a real and substantial upgrade over both Berger and Easton.

    That said, I’d be perfectly okay with bringing back Berger and Easton and just using our #1 pick on a guard like Wynn or Price. I know Hernandez did well in some of the agility test at the combine, but I much preferred the tape I saw of Wynn to that I saw of Hernandez when it came to agility in game situations.

    1. I’m thinking I used that phrase because o-linemen don’t have as “sexy” of names as QB’s or positional players, thus only the guys I’m really familiar with (you named Norwell and Sitton), I view as intriguing.

      Totally cool with the plan you listed. Bring back Easton & Berger then draft away!

  2. Does Billy Price fit the Vikings scheme of blocking ~ I ask because i don’t know ~ We didn’t get to see him workout at the combine because of a pec injury that required surgery ~ They do say he should be ready by training camp IF he doesn’t have any setbacks ~ I really liked what I saw of Wynn and Hernandez ~ Surely one of them should be there somewhere in the first two rounds ~ Everyone else is a question mark to me as I dont scout vets or college players anymore ~ But there was a time when I watched a lot of football ~ I had to build a server to keep all of my games recorded on so I could watch games ((( college and pro ))) that included next years FA ((( I always looked up the list of teams FA for the following year ))) or college teams who might have a highly rated player the Vikings could possible draft ~ I missed most of the time and gave up oh it 8 or 9 years ago ~ But I did enjoy it while I did it ~ LOL~ Now I have two wonderful grandkids to fill that time ~ My life is far better because of them ~ Smiley Face 🙂

    1. According to Arif Hasan, who is a superb football analyst AND a Vikings fan, Price and Isiah Wynn are both “likely high on the Vikings draft boards, as they are excellent players who should fit into the Vikings system perfectly.” Either would suit me just fine. On the other hand, one of his colleagues at Zone Coverage: Home of Minnesota Sports, Luke Inman, did a really good mock draft a few days ago that mocked Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey to the Vikes at the end of the first round. His explanation was the first I’ve read that I bought for drafting an OT and moving Remmers to Guard. You might wasnt to check it out at:


      “I had to build a server to keep all of my games recorded…” My God, Gordon, that’s obsessive even by my standards. Thank goodness for your grandkids.