On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings continued in their efficient but slightly underwhelming free agency period with the re-signing of offensive lineman Brett Jones (anything they really do will come up short of last season when they signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to the biggest—and first-ever fully guaranteed—contract of the whole free period, but that is another story). The Vikings have needed to make some moves on the offensive line, particularly at the guard position, after losing Nick Easton to the Saints, and this signing of Jones, while not a huge deal, was a necessary one.
Here is the release from the Vikings in which they list his position as OL:
“Jones enters his second season with the Vikings in 2019 after originally being acquired from the New York Giants via trade on August 26, 2018. The native of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, appeared in 14 games for Minnesota in 2018, making three starts at center. Prior to joining the Vikings, Jones appeared in 30 games in three seasons with the Giants, making 14 starts. Jones spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, helping the club to a Grey Cup title in 2014 and earning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman award for his efforts.”
The move was needed to load up the depleted offensive line room and particularly with players who can play guard (the Vikings waved Mike Remmers and lost Tom Compton to free agency). Today, Jones, while a center, might be slated as a starter as a guard, opposite free agent Josh Kline who was signed a little over a week ago. But at the very least, Jones will bring needed depth to a line that still is major flux since the Easton defection to New Orleans. Right now, they have Riley Reiff at left tackle, Brian O’Neill at right and Pat Elflein at center, with Jones (who replaced Elflein at center for three games last season) and Kline slotted in the two guard positions. Or you can start Jones at center and move Elflein to guard, as has been rumored by some–like we said, a state of flux.
I would be a little more excited about the team signing Jones if we had seen a bit more of him last season. The Vikings got themselves into a little depth issue on the line and traded for Jones last preseason, only to then play him sparingly, at best. Jones dressed for 14 games and started three, and his play didn’t warrant the team desperately trying to find him playing time. So, now the signing seems a little desperate given the Vikings’ marginal depth on the offensive line.
Still, Minnesota still thought enough of Jones last season to give up value before the season in a trade for him and now have retained his services. The move does not signal the end of the work the personnel department must do to shore up the line (that still has to come in the draft), but the team must feel that he is good enough to have on the roster in some capacity (perhaps Jones’ versatility is a bonus). Hopefully, the first pick in the 2019 for the Vikings is a top-shelf offensive linemen who will beat out Jones for the starting spot, and Jones becomes a decently valued backup. Otherwise, the Vikings don’t appear to have greatly improved themselves on the line with this signing.