Receivers top Vikings' free-agent wish list

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 9, 2013 - 9:05 AM

The Vikings’ passing game needs lots of help, but their run-first offense may be uninviting to the elite free-agent receivers.

 

The NFL’s free-agent market won’t officially open until 3 p.m. Tuesday. But as of Saturday morning, thanks to a new league policy, teams and agents can begin negotiating on all players set to become unrestricted free agents.

That subtle rule tweak provides a new 88-hour bargaining window that, technically speaking, didn’t previously exist.

So while deals with outside free agents can’t be rubber-stamped until Tuesday, the free-agent action might really start escalating this weekend. With that in mind, here’s your quick Vikings guide to free agency.

After releasing Michael Jenkins on Monday, the Vikings now have exactly one receiver under contract who had more than 30 catches last season: Percy Harvin. Now comes the necessary push to overhaul the receiving corps.

It’s a priority the Vikings still figure to address more heavily through the draft. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be somewhat active in free agency.

Yes, two major headliners likely will become available Tuesday: Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings. But both figure to command contracts in excess of $10 million per year. And given the philosophy of Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman to build through the draft while avoiding overly expensive free-agent signings, it’s unlikely the Vikings will be major players for either Wallace or Jennings.

You also have to figure both receivers will seek out opportunities in which they can flourish in proven passing attacks. And at last check, there wasn’t a long line of marquee NFL pass catchers fighting to join forces with Christian Ponder in a run-first offense.

Realistically that means the Vikings might be left searching the bargain bin for free-agent receivers.

Perhaps that means bringing Jerome Simpson back for a second season with another short-term, low-risk deal. And perhaps it means browsing the open market for young, second-tier talents such as Brandon Gibson, Donnie Avery and Kevin Ogletree.

Doing the dirty work

Internally, the Vikings have a profound belief that Ponder will make a big leap forward in his third year starting. There are also great expectations that Adrian Peterson will continue riding the tidal wave of momentum he built during his 2012 MVP campaign. But both Ponder and Peterson will need help up front. Which is where the Vikings’ current contract talks with right tackle Phil Loadholt and Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton come into play.

Loadholt and agent Gary Uberstine seem to have leverage, free to gauge the market this weekend where the value for a physical, durable right tackle will be established. At that point, the Vikings will have to weigh their appraisal of Loadholt’s worth against the price point presented to them.

Spielman has continually asserted that he wants to retain continuity and unity across an offensive line that started the same quintet for all 16 games last season. And Leslie Frazier said he believes Loadholt is coming off his most consistent season.

“I think he’s an ascending player,” Frazier said. “This is the time where we want to make sure that we keep him a Viking.”

As for Felton? As a matter of business practicality, he’ll dip his toes into the free-agent waters to gain a better sense of his true value. But you can bet that after frustrating stops through Detroit, Carolina and Indianapolis where he never could find a suitable niche, Felton isn’t taking the opportunity to block for the league MVP in a run-heavy offense for granted.

Next man up

The Vikings have Ponder’s name Sharpied into the top line of their depth chart at quarterback. But behind him at No. 2? Right now, Joe Webb’s name appears in feint pencil. With eraser rubbings nearby.

  • related content

  • Looking for clarity in Percy Harvin saga? Not much exists

    Friday March 8, 2013

    Rumors and reports continue to bounce around about the Vikings talented yet temperamental receiver. Still, a search for concrete answers has been mostly fruitless.

  • Chart: Vikings free agents

    Saturday March 9, 2013

    The Vikings have 10 players set to become unrestricted free agents next week. Here’s our best guess on what happens...

  • Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman

  • Former Packers receiver Greg Jennings is one of the top free agent targets.Bay, Photo/Mike Roemer, File)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Detroit
Dallas 7:00 PM
New Orleans
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Detroit
Vancouver 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Chicago 7:00 PM
Nashville
Arizona 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Carolina 8:00 PM
Calgary
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Columbus 9:30 PM
San Jose
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close