Let the games begin. The NFL’s negotiation period between teams and unrestricted free agents is now underway. Although any deals struck will not be official until Wednesday at 4 p.m., this time period is crucial for NFL teams. This two-day window allows franchises to throw their hats in the ring for top-tier players.
As we’ve discussed before, the Minnesota Vikings have several needs that they need to address in free agency. However, simply plugging in any player at a position of need isn’t always the best solution. NFL teams need to ensure that the free agent signee will fit their scheme and locker room.
Here are some of the Minnesota Vikings’ free agency targets in 2018.
In the beginning of his career, Justin Pugh looked like a future star offensive lineman. Unfortunately, injuries have limited him in all but one season. This past season, Pugh missed the Giants’ last seven games due to a back injury. With Andrew Norwell reportedly heading to the New York Giants, Pugh will be the best guard available in free agency.
The Minnesota Vikings have a massive hole to fill at guard, with both of their starters in 2017 heading towards free agency. The addition of a talented guard like Pugh would help solidify the Vikings’ struggling offensive line. Should he sign with Minnesota, he will most likely come on a short-term deal worth about $10 million per year.
Backup plans: Ryan Jensen (Ravens), Chris Hubbard (Steelers)
Like Pugh, Jordan Matthews also enjoyed a strong start to his career, only to have it squandered by a season-ending injury in 2017. In his three seasons with Philadelphia, Matthews amassed 225 catches for 2,673 yards. However, the wide receiver wasteland known as Buffalo allowed him to only catch 25 passes for 282 yards.
Matthews would greatly benefit from a change in scenery, and what better place than Minnesota, where he can pair with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen? The Vikings would be able to pick up an effective third option in the passing game without breaking the bank.
Matthews would also be reuniting with former Eagles coach John DeFilippo, who is known for spreading the ball to his playmakers.
Backup plan: Kendall Wright (Bears)
Dontari Poe could be the most expensive player on this list, but he would be worth every penny.
The 27-year-old defensive tackle has enjoyed a solid pro career so far in Kansas City and Atlanta. He isn’t a premier pass rusher as he only had 2.5 sacks last year, but he is an elite run stopper. The Atlanta Falcons’ defense improved mightily thanks to his presence, going from 25th to ninth in yards allowed.
The two-time Pro Bowler has been durable as well. In his six years in the NFL, he has only missed four starts.
Adding Poe to a defensive line already featuring Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter would form a modern version of the Vikings’ famous “Purple People Eaters” of the 1970s.
Backup plans: Justin Ellis (Raiders), Bennie Logan (Chiefs)
Newman wants to return in 2018 for his seemingly 1,000th season in the NFL, and what better place to play your final season than in Minnesota? Newman has spent nearly his entire career with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, making him a perfect fit for their scheme.
The Vikings are also in need of an experienced nickel corner. Newman checks both of those boxes. It seems unlikely that many teams will be lining up to give a 39-year-old cornerback a starting gig, so the ball is in the Vikings’ court.
Backup plans: Aaron Colvin (Jaguars), T.J. Carrie (Raiders)
Featured image by Bill Kostroun/AP
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