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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Looking ahead at the Vikings’ pending free agents

By Andrew Krammer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings’ foundation is there.

Twenty draft picks in consecutive offseasons under coach Mike Zimmer has helped produce a host of young talent that should keep the Vikings in perennial playoff contention. Their quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, is only two seasons into his career, as is standout linebacker Anthony Barr. Veterans in their prime, including Everson Griffen, 28, Linval Joseph, 27, and Captain Munnerlyn, 27, aided to bridge the inexperience gap and create a formidable defense that ranked fifth in points allowed this season.

But like every offseason, there are many decisions to be made with free agency beginning March 15.

Few in-house decisions are big, however, and those can be addressed now or pushed down the road as general manager Rick Spielman picked up the fifth-year options last spring of 2012 first-round picks Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith. They’re both under contract for 2016, though Kalil’s cap hit leaps from $3.085 million to $11.096 million under that option, per NFLPA records.

Kalil enjoyed a bounce-back season, catalyzed by health after two years of playing through chronic knee problems. While Smith finished the year with eight All-Pro votes and may have shown enough already to warrant a multi-year extension this offseason.

“The team is going to be different next year,” Smith said. “But I imagine we’ll have a lot of carry over. That foundation, I think, should help us moving forward.”

Eleven of the Vikings’ 17 pending free agents come on defense, including two of last year’s starters in linebacker Chad Greenway, 32, and cornerback Terence Newman, 37. Other key contributors who played out their contracts this season include tight end Rhett Ellison, starting guard Mike Harris, punt returner Marcus Sherels and safety Andrew Sendejo.

Offense

G/T Mike Harris

RB Matt Asiata

TE Rhett Ellison

FB Zach Line+

WR Adam Thielen#

T Carter Bykowski#

Defense

LB Chad Greenway

CB Terence Newman

CB Marcus Sherels

S Andrew Sendejo

LB Audie Cole

DE Justin Trattou

NT Kenrick Ellis

CB Josh Robinson

S Robert Blanton

LB Jason Trusnik

LB Casey Matthews

+ = restricted free agent
# = exclusive rights free agent

The post Looking ahead at the Vikings’ pending free agents appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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