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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Big contracts, diminished market could push Vikings’ focus to draft to fill O-line spot

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings have taken care of their three biggest offseason needs in hiring offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and signing Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson. But there are still a few remaining needs, the most glaring of which is right guard.

Reports have indicated that Joe Berger is leaning toward retirement. NFL Network reported that the Vikings might be interested in bringing Berger back, but at 37 years old, it wouldn’t be wise to assume he could carry a starting load at the same level as last season.

So the Vikings will have to either look to the free agent market or wait until the NFL draft to find a starter.

But there are a few problems with looking to the market. The first being that many of the top free agent linemen have found homes already. Over the last two days, ex-Giants lineman Justin Pugh agreed to a deal with the Arizona Cardinals and Ryan Jensen, interior lineman for the Ravens, joined the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Former Colts Jack Mewhort is the most proven lineman on the market and he has injury concerns.

The other issue: The price tag.

Pugh signed a five-year deal worth more than $45 million. He may be a quality lineman, but he struggled last year and missed a portion of last season and had his lowest career grade by Pro Football Focus.

#Giants free agent OL Justin Pugh is signing with the #AZCardinals, sources tell me and @MikeGarafolo. It’s a 5-year deal worth just over $45M. A huge deal to end the week.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2018

Jensen became the highest paid center in the NFL. Even linemen considered to be mid-pack have landed huge contracts like Kansas City’s Zach Fulton, who nailed down a deal with the Texans worth $7.5 million per year and James Hurst was given a four-year, $17.5 million contract to stay with the Ravens.

Unless the Vikings are interested in a second wave option who is still on the market like Patriots backup tackle LaAdrian Waddle, Dallas guard Jonathan Cooper or Seattle lineman Luke Joeckel, they will have to look to the draft to fill Berger’s shoes.

Not only will a rookie fit their tight budge, but this year’s class features a number of guards who could step into a starting role. UTEP’s Will Hernandez, a massive guard with a nasty edge, impressed at the NFL Combine and could be a first-round pick. Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn, Ohio State’s Billy Price and Iowa’s James Daniels are all considered impressive prospects and could land in the first two rounds.

The other option fo the Vikings is seeking a tackle in the first round and moving Mike Remmers to guard. In Week 17 and both Vikings playoff games, Remmers played on the interior and Rashad Hill started at tackle.

It’s more difficult to find a quality tackle at the bottom of the first than a guard. However, year’s class could have quality players who drop. Texas’s Connor Williams had a strong Combine, but doesn’t have ideal size, Orlando Brown struggled mightily at the Combine, which could drop his stock, Mississippi State’s Martinas Rankin is a versatile player who might be pushed to guard instead of tackle.

The bottom line is: In the draft, the Vikings will have better options than what’s left over in free agency. They will likely need an insurance policy-type veteran in case the draft pick doesn’t adapt quickly. But as of mid-March, O-line is a runaway favorite for one of the Vikings’ top two picks in the draft.

The post Big contracts, diminished market could push Vikings’ focus to draft to fill O-line spot appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Playing indoors was a big factor for Kirk Cousins

By Mike Florio New Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had 84 million reasons, and more, for choosing to continue his career in Minnesota. While the weather probably wasn’t one of them, avoiding the weather was. Appearing on Friday’s PFT Live, Cousins was asked about the impact of playing in an enclosed stadium on his decision. “That point that you’re [more]

Source:: ProFootballTalk

Turning on the Jets to find out about Sheldon Richardson (ep. 305)

By Matthew Coller

Matthew Coller talks with Joe Caparoso from Turn on the Jets. What can we make of the Vikings signing Sheldon Richardson? How does he fit in Minnesota? What went wrong in New York? Will Teddy Bridgewater be the starter for the Jets next season? And will the Jets still draft a QB?

The post Turning on the Jets to find out about Sheldon Richardson (ep. 305) appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Prospect Profile: Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson

By Craig Peters Kerryon Johnson Running back | Auburn | Junior Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 213 pounds College Stats 2017: 285 rushes for 1,391 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns (ninth in FBS) with a l…

Source:: Minnesota Vikings: News

Vikings’ D-line is stacked, but will utilize depth in 2018

By Matthew Coller

On Friday, the Minnesota Vikings made it clear they won’t be remaining status quo on defense despite ranking No. 1 in yards and points last season.

The Vikings signed defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to a one-year, $8 million deal with an additional $3 million in incentives.

The addition gives Mike Zimmer an incredible amount of talent with Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Richardson and Danielle Hunter as his starting group.

Vikings’ D-line Pro Football Focus grades

In 2017, Zimmer played his starters on nearly ever play. Everson Griffen played 79 percent of total snaps, Danielle Hunter 77 percent, Tom Johnson 67 percent and Linval Joseph 66 percent.

We could see those snap counts go down in 2018.

“I think the biggest thing you’re seeing in the NFL now is the defensive line rotation to keep these guys fresh throughout the season,” GM Rick Spielman said. “I give Philadelphia a lot of credit, they used an eight-man rotation last year and you could see the results of that. If we can keep building the depth on the defensive line that will pay dividends down the road.”

Philadelphia had two quality defensive ends in Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, but still signed veteran Chris Long and drafted Derek Barnett in the first round. Defensive coordinator split up his pass rushers based on the situation. Each played 65 (Graham) and 41 (Barnett) percent of total snaps. On the interior, superstar Fletcher Cox routinely played 80 percent throughout the year, but DTs Beau Allen and Timmy Jernigan

In 2014, Richardson was an every-down DT, lining up for 87 percent of total plays. Speaking to Spielman’s point about the trend around the NFL, he only played 63 percent of snaps in Seattle last season.

How will the Vikings put more focus on a rotation? One way could be by giving more responsibility to young players. Defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, who was selected in the fourth round, noticeably made an impact during the preseason, but rarely saw the field, playing a total of 41 snaps. Undrafted free agent Tashawn Bower won a job in training camp and then received 10 plays and picked up one sack. Stephen Weatherly was on the field for 91 plays.

There are also a number of situational pass rushers still on the market. The Eagles cut Curry for cap-related reasons, but he will likely seek a starting job. Former New York Jet Kony Ealy and Pernell McPhee have been playing linebacker in 3-4 schemes, but could fill a pure edge rushing role. The Panthers cut veteran Charles Johnson earlier this offseason.

Spielman confirmed the team won’t be bringing back Tom Johnson. He did not rule out run stuffer Shamar Stephen.

The post Vikings’ D-line is stacked, but will utilize depth in 2018 appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Richardson: I Wanted The Best Chance To Win A Super Bowl

GM Rick Spielman, Head Coach Mike Zimmer, and New Vikings DT Sheldon Richardson addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday afternoon.

Source:: Minnesota Vikings: Videos

Richardson on Choosing the Vikings, Recruitment Process, More

New Vikings DT Sheldon Richardson sat down with’s Mike Wobschall about his journey to the Vikings, the facilities that awaited him here in the Twin Cities, the potential of the Vikings defensive line in 2018, and more.

Source:: Minnesota Vikings: Videos

Zimmer on What He Likes About Sheldon Richardson

Head Coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media on Friday afternoon from the TCO Performance Center.

Source:: Minnesota Vikings: Videos

Spielman on the Richardson Signing, What Lies Ahead

GM Rick Spielman addressed the media on Friday afternoon from the TCO Performance Center.

Source:: Minnesota Vikings: Videos

Kirk Cousins’ Full Introductory Press Conference

Watch as Owner/President Mark Wilf, GM Rick Spielman, Head Coach Mike Zimmer and new Vikings QB Kirk Cousins addressed the media on Thursday.

Source:: Minnesota Vikings: Videos