MATT CASSEL, EVERSON GRIFFEN, MARCUS SHERELS, LARRY DEAN, JOE BERGER and JEROME SIMPSON all have been retained by the Minnesota Vikings.
LB JASPER BRINKLEY, NT LINVAL JOSEPH, CB CAPTAIN MUNNERLYN and CB DEREK COX all have been attained by the Vikings via free agency. So, where do we stand into the May Draft, and should we expect any more FA moves?
Not exactly sure where the team stands via salary-cap money but it feels like it's low-to-mid teens at the highest. That saves money for the draft and maybe one more free agent. PAUL CHARCHIAN, co-host of the Friday Football Feast, would like the team to investigate bringing in RB MAURICE JONES-DREW to be the change-up to ADRIAN PETERSON'S fastball, and they very well may have cash for it given up until last night they were flirting with Bears DT HENRY MELTON.
I would absolutely be in favor of landing MJD and believe he's the perfect player to complement the best and work with OC NORV TURNER. Jones-Drew, however, may expect a bigger payday than the Vikings can deliver given he mostly has had a terrific career and changes games for size when healthy.
It's interesting to note every free agent GM RICK SPIELMAN has signed from other teams plays defense, and free agency is the best way to quick-fix a unit that was mostly porous last year. I still expect him to use most of his draft selections on defense, and with Joseph stabilizing the middle and with HARRISON SMITH on the back end drafting Alabama MLB C.J. MOSELY potentially strengthens you greatly up the middle into game one next year. Maybe Brinkley is that guy, and as just a base 4-3 MLB I absolutely feel Jasper is up to the task.
We, however, need a three-down LB to play "nickel" with CHAD GREENWAY, and Buffalo's KHALIL MACK would be that player if we were lucky enough to draft him. He's so steamy in NFL Draft circles I just don't feel we can get him unless we overpay to move up, and that doesn't make sense with the positions of need we have.
Maybe Rick takes Oklahoma State CB JUSTIN GILBERT at eight and runs out Gilbert, XAVIER RHODES and The Captain when teams most likely are passing? Even with a good-not-great pass rush that trio -- with Smith -- brings credibility to a secondary we lacked last season.
I still do not envision them selecting a QB at eight but haven't done enough of a deep dive into the draft to make an accurate prediction. As reported, they put an abundance of time into QB A.J. MCCARRON, the big-time winner from the Crimson Tide. Moving on him means (a) you can get him around 40 or at the end of the first round and (b) you select a guy who exits a pro-style offense who has played in many big games. I wouldn't mind if the Vikings selected McCarron and gave him a chance here. Not married to that take, though.
I am guessing the team re-signed Simpson to one of those one-year, "prove-it" contracts, which means like Brinkley they can have him all offseason and release him before the season and not be tied to the deal.
Given all the right minds are telling me this is an amazingly deep WR draft I for sure expect Rick to move on a wide out to give Turner another toy with which to work.
We also need at least one more DE for depth and a good one to rotate with Griffen or to play inside on passing situations. Despite the level of give I still do not believe they will run Everson out there for 70 plays a game, and one of the facets of ZIMMER'S approach in Cincinnati that impressed me greatly is how he subbed a ton of players and always was rolling with fresh legs. Shoot, the way things are set now I would not be surprised if ANDREW SENDEJO rotated with JAMARCA SANFORD at S.
Clearly Zimmer prefers a lot of people doing a lot of different things, and if that weren't the case his Bengals defense would have crumbled after season-ending injuries to stud DT GENO ATKINS and fellow stud CB LEON HALL. He also had to deal with injuries to OLB JAMES HARRISON last year, and undrafted Duke guy VINCENT REY held down that spot so well he and other reserves helped the team have one of the best defenses in the NFL.
There might be a little more to do via FA but probably not. Now it's on to the draft, and if three or four of those guys can assist immediately we will be right back in the hunt to win the NFCN.