Still Available: 10 Free Agent Possibilities For The Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 19, 2012 – 6:38 am

On Friday we discussed the possibility of the Vikings visiting with a pair of free agents in OL Geoff Schwartz and DB Alan Ball. On Sunday we took a look at whether or not former Colts DB Melvin Bullitt was a good fit in Minnesota. Both discussions generated plenty chatter in the comments section, so let’s keep it going with more free agency talk.

Below is a list of 10 available unrestricted free agents that I’ll be keeping my eye on this week as the second wave of free agency begins. I’ve also left a comment or two on each player. Let us know which free agents you’d like to see the Vikings consider by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry…

CB Aaron Ross – Already a two-time Super Bowl winner, Ross was not retained by the NY Giants and he remains available for CB-needy teams. This is not a news flash, but the Vikings need more CBs. The 6-0, 197-pound CB is a touch older than a team rebuilding would prefer (he turns 30 in September), but he has experience playing in big games and he’s a guy you can rely on while playing man coverage. Given how much money teams are spending on free agents this year and the fact that Ross has two Super Bowl rings, his price tag might be inflated enough to scare the Vikings away, and that would be understandable. If that doesn’t happen, though, he’s an option I’d be interested in seeing the Vikings pursue. Ross was a 1st-round pick out of Texas of the NY Giants in 2007.

Ross signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars

CB Tracy Porter – The same price-tag related reservation I have about Ross applies in Porter’s case because he’s a former Super Bowl-champion as well and his value could be inflated because of that. If he can be had at a reasonable price, though, I’m interested. He’ll be just 27 in August and he has good size (5-11, 188 pounds) for his position. I’m not sure he’s as physical a player as you’d like, but he can play man coverage and he’s played well in big spots. Porter was a 2nd-round pick of the Saints in 2008.

WR Ted Ginn – He’d solve any question about the kickoff and punt return role for the Vikings because he’s one of the two or three best returners in the NFL. One concern in adding Ginn, though, is finding a way for him to contribute on offense. Measuring in at 5-10, 180 pounds, Ginn doesn’t play the position with physicality and he’s had just 12 and 19 receptions in the past two seasons with San Francisco. Another concern is health, as he missed time in last year’s playoffs with a leg injury. If his leg injury is sufficiently healed and if the Vikings feel they can use him efficiently on offense, Ginn might be an interesting addition to the team, most notably for his return ability.

DT Pat Sims – Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot about Sims and the skill set he possesses. But I do know he’s available, and that he measures in at 6-2, 330 pounds. Those dimensions make it possible that he could fill the spot opposite Kevin Williams on the Vikings interior defensive line, though it’s also possible he was more of a 3-technique (Kevin Williams’ position) with his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals. There’s also something to be said for not worrying about the distinction between the Kevin Williams-type DT position and the Pat Williams-type DT position, and instead focusing on the fact that Sims might be a good football player regardless. I don’t know if he is, but he’s a free agent coming off his rookie contract and he plays DT, so I’m interested. Sims was a 3rd-round pick in 2008 out of Auburn.

S Reggie Smith – There’s nothing in Smith’s background that will make fans jump out of their skin at the thought of adding him to this roster, but he does play a position of need and he fits the mold of a typical Rick Spielman free agent signing – coming off his rookie contract, ascending career arc and looking to prove himself as a capable starter in the NFL. Smith was a 3rd-round pick of San Francisco in 2008 and he began his career as a CB. He then converted to safety in 2009, started 7 games at safety in 2010, and was a reserve in 2011. He stands at 6-1, 200 pounds, will turn just 26 in September, and played college football at Oklahoma.

LB EJ Henderson – A leader and major contributor on the Vikings defense for years, it’s hard to imagine life without Henderson in the middle. But maybe we won’t have to imagine that for another year. Right now Henderson is on the market, but if he doesn’t find an attractable enough offer with another team, it’s possible he and the Vikings could reunite for another season while Jasper Brinkley and any other middle LB the Vikings acquire through the draft or free agency develop.

Others to consider…
Former Seattle Seahawks LB David Hawthorne and former Atlanta Falcons LB Curtis Lofton are two of the best unrestricted free agents remaining, but I believe they’ll command a salary too high for the Vikings. While the Vikings could find a way to put either under contract, I’m not convinced it’s a sound economical approach to improving the roster. The money required to sign one of either Hawthorne or Lofton could be used to extend a player currently under contract with the Vikings (WR Percy Harvin, perhaps) or it could be used to acquire multiple players that could address multiple needs on the roster.

Another LB to consider is former Detroit LionsLB Stephen Tulloch. He could play middle LB in the Vikings defense finds itself in a place where Henderson is not asked to return and Brinkley is not ready to assume a starting role. Once again, price tag could be an issue here. But Tulloch has good upside, will be just 27 years old this season and is a proven productive player in the NFL.

Tullock re-signed with Detroit

CB William Gay has not been retained by the Pittsburgh Steelers and could make for a nice option in Minnesota. The 27-year old 5-10, 190-pound CB was an important part of the Steelers defense, but you have to wonder if his solid play was the product of the system and talent around him. I’m not paid to make those decisions, but someone is and if Gay is deemed to be a quality player in coverage, he could be an option for the Vikings in the second or third wave of free agency.

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Trade Demand For Vikings #3 Pick Still A Good Possibility

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 19, 2012 – 6:02 am

Late last week we examined the possibility of a robust trade market emerging for the Vikings #3 pick, with former Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill’s proposed inflated draft stock being the genesis of the demand for the Vikings selection.

One could assume Tannehill will be in high demand because he’s regarded as the 3rd best QB prospect in this year’s draft and the first two prospects – Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III – will be selected with the first two picks.

As was theorized in that blog entry, QB-needy teams such as Cleveland, Miami and Seattle who miss out on QBs in free agency will be looking to upgrade their QB situations on draft day. With that being the case, those teams could opt to trade up to the Vikings slot in order to select Tannehill.

One aspect of this entire theory we didn’t mention was the possibility that any of those aforementioned teams who strike a deal with a QB in free agency (Peyton Manning, for example) might displace a QB on their roster, thus giving teams who are still looking to improve another option. For example, if the San Francisco 49ers sign Manning, that leaves Alex Smith as an alternative for other teams. If the Tennessee Titans sign Manning, that leaves Matt Hasselbeck as an alternative. None of this helps the Vikings, but I also think it won’t eliminate the chance that some team will want to trade up for the Vikings #3 overall pick.

Over the weekend, the 2nd-best free agent QB signed with one of the QB-needy teams identified above. The Seattle Seahawks signed Flynn, taking them off the menu of teams that might consider trading up to select Tannehill. The good news is, though, that the Seahawks signing of Flynn does not make available a new QB. Seattle is expected to retain last year’s starter (Tarvaris Jackson) and have a competition for the starting spot.

So where does that leave our theory on a robust market developing for the Vikings #3 overall pick? There’s still a good chance. As of right now, I’m pegging Cleveland and Miami as the two teams most likely to consider trading up to the Vikings spot for the right to select Tannehill. The Dolphins weren’t able to sign Flynn, and they will lose out on the Manning sweepstakes as well. As for Cleveland, they have Colt McCoy as their starter now, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that they’re looking to upgrade. On top of that, Cleveland is in the 4th spot, so they won’t have to pay as much as Miami to move up and secure the rights to Tannehill.

There could be others, too. A lot can happen between now and draft day, plus you can never rule out the possibility of a surprise team emerging late in the process. If Denver misses out on Manning, could they be candidates to trade up for Tannehill? How about Arizona, Buffalo or Kansas City?

So as has been the case for months, the Vikings are in a great spot as holders of the #3 overall pick. And they have well over a month before the NFL draft to figure out how to maximize their great position. As explained last week, the ideal scenario is for the Browns to feel compelled to trade up one spot to block other teams further down in the 1st round from doing so, which will net the Vikings draft-pick compensation while moving them down just one spot so they can still get their player of choice.

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