Chart: Vikings free agency tracker
- Article by: MARK CRAIG
- Star Tribune
- March 15, 2014 - 6:40 PM
QB Matt Cassel
What it means: He isn’t the perfect solution, but for a team that needs a franchise quarterback — again! — Cassel relieves the pressure to reach too high in the draft, a la Christian Ponder in 2011.
DE Everson Griffen
What it means: The Vikings got younger at a key position with a 26-year-old who has spent four seasons flashing star potential and enough skill to step out of Jared Allen’s shadow. But now he has to live up to high expectations.
MLB Jasper Brinkley
What it means: Returning after a failed season in Arizona, Brinkley adds a run-stopper to a linebacking corps that is unproven behind Chad Greenway.
C-G Joe Berger
What it means: One of the most underrated players on the roster, Berger is a veteran backup capable of starting at any of the three interior line positions.
RB Matt Asiata
What it means: A strong No. 3 running back who can play special teams and start in a pinch. He’s not a change-of-pace No. 2 back, but he’s worth keeping.
NT Fred Evans
What it means: Despite his propensity for penalties, Evans is an experienced wide body who can hold down the middle long enough to keep new starter Linval Joseph fresh.
WR Jerome Simpson
What it means: The Vikings can relax somewhat, knowing they now have a fourth experienced receiver under contract. A third consecutive one-year, “prove-it” deal is motivation for an acrobatic but inconsistent player who is a deep threat on the field and a suspension risk off it.
NT Linval Joseph
What it means: Joseph is the first true two-gap nose tackle still in top form since Pat Williams in 2009. Not coincidently, that was the last time the Vikings played shut-down run defense. Joseph, 25, also has the athleticism and footwork to rush the passer.
CB Captain Munnerlyn
What it means: The Vikings finally have someone to replace Antoine Winfield, 12 months after making the mistake of releasing him and placing blind faith in Josh Robinson, a second-year pro who never had played inside over the slot in the nickel defense. Munnerlyn, 25, already has three years of experience at starting outside and sliding inside when his former team, the Panthers, went to the nickel. A seventh-round draft pick in 2009, Munnerlyn has returned five of seven career interceptions for touchdowns. The starter he replaces, Chris Cook, a second-round pick in 2010, still is looking for his first career pick. He signed with the 49ers on Friday.
CB Derek Cox
What it means: Remains to be seen. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer proclaims himself to be “The Fixer.” Well, if he can fix this guy, he might have three good corners in Xavier Rhodes, Munnerlyn and Cox. He had 12 interceptions in four seasons with the Jaguars after being drafted in the third round in 2009. He signed a big deal with the Chargers last year but was benched three times and essentially given up on after a horrendous outing against the Chiefs in November.
STILL NEEDS TO HAPPEN
1: Veteran quarterback
1: Starting right defensive end
1: Young, true run-stuffing nose tackle
1: Left guard
The roster includes only unproven prospects behind Chad Greenway. Unfortunately for the Vikings, there doesn’t appear to be a good fit in free agency based on skills or age. This need is something that most likely will be addressed in the draft. The muddied picture also will begin to clear once the new coaching staff identifies Greenway’s role and how and where intriguing youngsters Audie Cole, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges fit.
Other needs: Change-of-pace backup running back, depth at defensive end and the three-technique tackle position, more competition at strong safety.
Where things stand: The running back could come as a bargain deal late in free agency or late in the draft. Depth on the defensive line remains an area of focus since Bears free-agent tackle Henry Melton left town without a deal Friday.
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