With the news that Minnesota had moved on from long-time tight end and team leader Kyle Rudolph this week, many have thought that the Vikings are just beginning their second off-season purge of core players in as many years. Whether or not that ends up being the case, the fact remains that this Vikings team needs and is going to need a lot of fresh blood in 2021. Sometimes, though, that fresh blood ends up being the same blood that they had laying around from 2017 (which is the original tagline for Memorial Blood Centers IIRC).
What is that super gross analogy referencing?
One Nick Easton. Left guard and a remnant from a time before the Vikings offensive line went from concerning (the 2017 playoffs), to bad (2018), to awful (2019) to somehow WORSE (2020). Easton, alongside right guard Joe Berger, wasn’t perfect but was a marked improvement over the play of Dakota Dozier or Tom Compton, and with the Vikings filled to the brim with needs on the defensive side of the ball, does anyone really think that Zimmer will use a first-round pick on a guard like Wyatt Davis?
Of course not.
So, bringing back Easton might be some sort of consoloation prize for the purple. There have been a few reports that the Vikings have NOT shown interest in bringing back Easton, who was released by the New Orleans Saints this week. However, the price should be right as is the tremendous and (for any other franchise) apparent need, so the Vikings should bring back Easton for depth if not a starting role.
Left tackle Riley Reiff is coming off of his best season in purple at left tackle, but could follow Kyle Rudolph and refuse a contract restructure (which could end with him being released or traded). That’d open up the left tackle spot, with many presuming that 2020 rookie right guard Ezra Cleveland sliding over to his natural/college position. That opens up two gigantic question marks at the guard spots, questions that have been there since Easton left.
Sure, he had a down 2020 but Easton is only 28 years old. That means that he has many years of prime football left in him, and while he may not fit the mold of the prototypical zone blocking left guard, he is familiar with the powers that be in Minnesota and could help bring some leadership to a line that will be very young if Riley Reiff is gone.
Regardless, the Vikings have a lot of work to do this off-season when it comes to their offensive line and they could start off much worse than they would by bringing Easton back into the fold. If they forgo this move, let’s hope that they actually plan on drafting someone like Davis to shore up the left guard spot for the next decade or more as to completely honest with you… I don’t know if I can handle another season/off-season of talking about this topic. I feel like I’m in the reboot of ‘Groundhog’s Day’ with WiFi, except when I sit in the bath with a toaster everyone thinks I’m being dramatic.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love for the Vikings to build their line via the draft but with the amount of needs that will open up on defense courtesy of the COVID-Cap, I’d rather take this consolation prize now than end up in a situation where the team just flips Cleveland and Dozier, then cuts and resigns Brett Jones for some reason, and pretends like that moving guys around is the same thing as actually investing in the line.