Vikings Explode on Scene with More Deals Coming
Minnesota is coming alive in free agency. The Vikings explode onto the scene with more deals coming their way. We are a week into free agency, and fans were growing impatient with the lack of deals Kwesi was closing. More specifically, he wasn’t closing deals at the positions of need.
However, he revitalized a sense of optimism in a big way this week. On Monday night, the Vikings hosted Za’Darius Smith for a visit. On Tuesday, after what I imagine to be several steaks and whiskey at Manny’s Steakhouse, the Vikings announced they agreed to terms with Za’Darius Smith.
Wow, that is a big deal. Signing a dominant edge rusher to play opposite Danielle Hunter was a top priority this offseason. Smith is a perfect fit in the Donatell scheme due to his versatility. He can play all over the defensive line and create utter havoc.
However, the edge rusher was one of many holes to be filled. The Vikings also needed a linebacker, several cornerbacks, a center, and a guard. Well, they signed linebacker Jordan Hicks last week to fill a need there.
Next up on the list, they need to address the offensive line and cornerback room.
Potential Offensive Line Deals
One of the focuses that head coach Kevin O’Connell has repeatedly said is they need to build around Kirk Cousins. For the Vikings to bring out the best in Cousins, they need to keep him standing up. This means an upgrade at offensive line is a must.
With the way it stands right now, this would be the starting offensive line:
- Left tackle – Christian Darrisaw
- Left guard – Ezra Cleveland
- Center – Garrett Bradbury
- Right guard – ????? (Wyatt Davis?)
- Right tackle – Brian O’Neill
Frankly, this is simply not good enough. The offensive tackles will be fine as Brian O’Neill is rock solid, and Christian Darrisaw played well for a rookie and will get better. Ezra Cleveland took some strides forward in his second year and should continue to improve.
However, there are problems at the center and right guard positions. Considering the middle of the offensive line is the quickest way to the quarterback, having a weak link here is less than ideal. Thankfully, the Vikings front office realizes this and is taking some action.
Chris Tomasson reported via Twitter the Vikings are hoping to bring in Ryan Bates.
Ryan Bates is a clear upgrade compared to Oli Udoh, the starter for most of 2021. Bates was a backup for most of 2021 for the Bills but played well as a replacement guard at the end of the season and into the playoffs. He gave up exactly zero sacks. Just what the Vikings need.
Another electrifying free agency signing would be JC Tretter. The Vikings have reached out to his camp, but it is unclear how any discussions have moved forward.
Don’t Forget about the Secondary
While it appears that the offensive line could be the next big item addressed this offseason, the secondary is still in shambles. Fans have been clamoring for the Vikings to sign a cornerback since, well, 2019, probably. There is no need for fans to panic yet. The front office and coaching staff know that four cornerbacks are not enough.
However, based on the way free agency is shaping up, the odds are going up that the draft is where they will target a cornerback. Perhaps they have their eyes set on ‘Sauce’ Gardner or Derek Stingley Jr. Regardless of who they want to draft, hoping either of these guys is available when the Vikings are on the clock in April is wishful thinking.
They will sign a cornerback or two before the draft. It is just not going to be on the fans’ schedule.
All of this to say, let’s put down our pitchforks for a few weeks. We need to allow Kwesi and the rest of the front office staff to do what the Wilfs hired him to do. Build a championship team.