Dang, that big National Football League wheel never stops churning, right? Senior Bowl, Super Bowl, Scouting Combine in two weeks, then right into free agency. Our Minnesota Vikings recently released OL BRANDON FUSCO and MIKE HARRIS, and that's the first sign revamping the offensive line is a top priority this offseason.
There are plenty of free-agency moves the team can make, but I don't expect this to be fantasy football for our squad. I mean, not feeling a series of high-priced freebies coming our way, instead maybe a series of plug-and-play athletes who can help posthaste, and there are many UFA I happen to like.
Offensive line and running back are the free-agent positions on which I have spent most of my time, and in this spot up to March free agency I'll stream the consciousness and we'll see what happens. For now, here are a couple of free agents I like:
DETROIT LIONS OT RILEY REIFF
There are plenty of available OL who can help rebuild the Minnesota Moving Company, but he goes to the top of the list for me. He's entering his sixth year and absolutely is playing the best he ever has played. The move to right tackle last season in the Motor City worked well, and by bookending Reiff and rookie LTTAYLOR DECKER the Lions had their best tackles tandem in many years.
I hear from most people the Lions are okay with him hitting free agency, which surprises me because of the foundation they have to protect STAFFORD. If he does become available in a month I am in.
I like him more at right tackle than left, and he'd obviously starts here day one. Riley is big and tough and only has missed three games the last four seasons. He's nimble, too, in that gets into space and blocks well. Yeah, it would be cool to land him and pluck a quality player from a division foe. I, too, like Baltimore's RICK WAGNER and would be fine with the Vikings attaining him if available, but Reiff is my guy in terms of reworking the OL through free agency.
Assuming the team signs an OL in free agency doesn't mean drafting a couple -- maybe a few -- doesn't need to happen, but getting a quality tackle via free agency means you can get one of the draft's best centers or guards starting maybe in the second round.
CAROLINA PATNTHERS DT KAWANN SHORT
Pie-in-the-sky stuff here. Short had 11 sacks two seasons ago and after a slow start last season finished with six. He's a fantastic player and plays that "three technique" we discuss #92Noon.
Feb. 15 is the first day teams can use the franchise tag to keep players, and I bet that's the route taken with Short, who is unrestricted. He plays the same spot SHARRIF FLOYD plays, and I am not sure what the local future looks like for Floyd. When Sharrif is healthy he generally changes games for the better but has been unreliable health-wise most of his career here.
The 'tag price for Short would be like $13.5 million and, again, I'd be shocked if he didn't get that or some form on long-term deal. The point of the take is in my opinion we really could use a DT next to LINVAL HUNGRY who can rush the QB. Some of the best three techniques in the league include Short, Tampa'sGERALD MCCOY and L.A.'S AARON DONALD. Short plays that spot and nose tackle.
The best route of attack for Minnesota, though, may be to find a rookie three technique in the draft. DEDANIELLE HUNTER is a star on the rise, and EVERSON GRIFFEN is one of the game's best pass-rushing 4-3 defensive ends. If we could gain pass-rushing consistency from a "three technique" ZIMMER'S already-solid defense becomes even better.