The Minnesota Vikings do not have a lot of money available to shop during free agency, but that doesn’t stop Pro Football Focus from sending a big name to the team.
In Seth Galina’s recent ideal-free-agent article that details each team’s possible signing, he sends Washington offensive guard Brandon Scherff to the Vikings.
This would be a notable acquisition for Minnesota as the franchise’s guard play was brutal in 2020 before auditioning rookie Ezra Cleveland at the position later in the season. The three-way combination of Pat Elflein (he was released), Dakota Dozier, and Dru Samia netted the Vikings three PFF grades below 50.0 respectively.
Scherff would instantly remedy this folly, and here’s how Galinda foresees the situation:
“The Vikings need at least some semblance of inside protection, and signing Scherff to reunite with Kirk Cousins would go a long way toward fixing some of Minnesota’s woes on offense. Scherff has been one of the most underrated players in the NFL since entering the league, and he’s coming off career-high marks as both a pass-blocker and a run-blocker. Overall, his 86.3 PFF grade ranked fourth among all guards in the NFL. Last season, Vikings guards produced a cumulative overall grade of 50.6 to go with an abysmally low 37.9 pass-blocking grade. They need an upgrade here more than any other team in the league by far.”
Scherff will be 29 years of age for the 2021 season. His addition would be akin to Minnesota landing Steve Hutchinson in 2006. That marked the age-29 season for Hutchinson, too.
4th-Best Guard Leaguewide per PFF
If Galinda is correct, the Vikings at a moment’s notice would go from abysmal guard play to adding a top-notch name in Scherff. The University of Iowa alumnus is a four-time Pro Bowler and was even tapped as First-Team All-Pro for the first time in his career during the pandemic season.
Scherff is at the peak of his powers – an apex that can feasibly span a few years. Offensive linemen have a longer shelf life than other positions. Trench-men on offense rarely diminish in their early 30s like other positional players such as wide receivers or running backs.
The only guards in the NFL better than Scherff last season per PFF were Wyatt Teller (CLE), Zack Martin (DAL), and Quinton Nelson (IND). That is extremely lofty company, and the Vikings would employ a bonafide Top 3 guard if they are truly in the Scherff Sweepstakes.
Connection to Cousins
It gets better.
Scherff played alongside current Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in the nation’s capital. He was drafted in 2015 – the same year Cousins was anointed the undisputed starter. Scherff spent his formative years with Cousins. And vice versa for Cousins. The Vikings signal-caller began his tenure as a true-blue starter with Scherff as one of the men that aptly protected him.
Presumably the two are friends or acquaintances, and sometimes those relationships matter in sports – especially when a player is on the move like Scherff. This was recently on display with J.J. Watt and the Arizona Cardinals. One of the drawing factors for Watts to embark on the desert was former Houston Texans teammate, DeAndre Hopkins.
“Ties to former teammates” matter.
Must Cut a Big Name or Restructure Out the Wazoo
There is, however, a gigantic “but.”
The Vikings don’t have any money presently to sign Scherff. Like – at all. For the Washington guard to don white horns on his helmet this autumn, general manager Rick Spielman must carve up the current roster, or at the very least, tweak several men’s paychecks.
At the time of this article’s publication, Minnesota has the ninth-worst cap situation leaguewide. Spielman is over the cap by about $3.5 million. To be sure, transactions are underway to wiggle underneath this mark. But Scherff will fetch around $15 million per season, and it is extremely unlikely that he will take any sort of discount to play with Kirk Cousins.
That means players you love or have grown accustomed to, will be released or restructured. This could be Riley Reiff – and then the team is back to a spot where they are missing a talented offensive lineman. Robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Other names might include Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter, or even Cousins. Those players will not be released but may be subject to restructure to free up room for Scherff – if PFF’s Galinda is accurate with his prognostication.