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Bleacher Report – Vikings

The Vikings five biggest needs this offseason

By Matthew Coller

If you are still recovering from the disappointing end of the Minnesota Vikings, there’s good news: The NFL offseason is about to kick into gear.

Before we look at the Vikings’ offseason needs, here’s some dates you should know:

  • The NFL Combine begins February 27
  • March 6 is the last day teams can apply the franchise or transition tag
  • March 12-14 is the “legal tampering” period for free agents
  • March 14 is the deadline for all teams to exercise option clauses and submit offers & tenders to their 2017 RFAs & ERFAs
  • Free agency and the NFL trading period also begin March 14 and 3 p.m. CT

Alright, now for the positions to keep an eye on as we progress through the offseason….

Starting quarterback

The Vikings currently have zero starting quarterbacks on their roster. Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and Sam Bradford are all free agents, making the number of possible options for 2018 innumerable. They can franchise tag any one of the three – the most likely being Keenum. And the possibility remains (though unlikely) that Bridgewater’s contract can toll onto next season. It’s harder to picture a scenario where Bradford is back.

Since Super Bowl week, Kirk Cousins buzz has died down, but the former Washington QB remains an option for the Vikings. And then there are the only-the-Vikings type scenarios. Quarterbacks like Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Tannehill are long shots, but you can never say never with the QB situation in Minnesota.

We will start to get some clarity soon though. By early March, we’ll know if the Vikings are franchise tagging Keenum. By mid-march, we’ll know if the Vikings plan to work out a new contract with Bridgewater.

Defensive tackle

Tom Johnson did an admirable job stepping into a full-time role this season. He didn’t put up huge numbers, but created pressure and performed well against the run despite being undersized for an every-down player. If the Vikings move on from Johnson, who is a free agent, they could chase a big fish in the form of top UFA DTs Sheldon Richardson or Dontari Poe. Minnesota might also consider defensive tackle toward the top of their draft needs.

Bringing Johnson back is a possibility. After all, he played nearly 70 percent of downs on the No. 1 defense in the NFL. But the Vikings would still need to add another player at the position, whether that’s a draft pick or re-signing Shamar Stephen.

Right guard

While starting right guard Joe Berger hasn’t officially announced his retirement, he mentioned multiple times that 2017 would be his last year in the NFL, so that leaves the Vikings with an opening on the offensive line. This year’s draft is expected to have a group of very good guards and the free agent market has a handful of proven starters as well.

The low-key possibility here is the Vikings drafting a right tackle in the first round and moving Mike Remmers to right guard. Remmers had a strong game at right guard in Week 17 and played on the left side during the Vikings’ two playoff games.

Nickel corner

Terence Newman did a remarkable job at nickel considering he made the position switch at age 39 and didn’t spend all of his preseason and camp reps there. The Vikings could convince Newman to give it one more whirl. If he retires, they could turn the spot over to Mackensie Alexander, who played one-third of the total snaps the year. But there are still questions about whether Alexander can take the next step. If Newman isn’t back, then they will need a just-in-case plan at nickel – which has become a starting spot in the NFL today.

Backup quarterback

There is no better evidence of the importance of having a good No. 2 quarterback than Case Keenum and Nick Foles. There aren’t many proven backups on the market, which may push the Vikings to bring back Bridgewater and Keenum. They could also look to sign Josh McCown, who has previous experience with John DeFilippo.

If the Vikings plan on having Bridgewater as their future, they absolutely must have a plan in case he encounters more knee issues.

BONUS NEED: D-line and skill position depth

One thing we can take away from the Philadelphia Eagles is that you can never have enough talent. The Eagles made two moves that stand out – one in the offseason, the other midseason. They signed pass rusher Chris Long despite already having a talented defensive line and traded for running back Jay Ajayi, though Philly had two solid running backs.

The Vikings are solid at tight end, but it wouldn’t be crazy to invest in another quality player. They could use a true No. 3 receiver and another situational pass rusher.

Vote on which need is the biggest for the Vikings here:

Outside of quarterback, what is the Vikings’ biggest need this offseason?

— Matthew Coller (@MatthewColler) February 12, 2018

The post The Vikings five biggest needs this offseason appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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