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Bleacher Report – Vikings

10 under-the-radar offensive free agents who could help the Vikings

By Matthew Coller

When free agency opens on March 14, the Minnesota Vikings are certain to be connected to every top player on the market.

Those big-name free agents have been known to boom or bust. Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars hit a home run by signing defensive end Caliais Campbell to a $60 million deal, but signings like Kenny Britt (Cleveland), Terrelle Pryor (Washington) and Martellus Bennett (Green Bay) did not turn out so well.

Sometimes it’s the under-the-radar signing that ends up making a big difference. There’s no better example than Case Keenum and Nick Foles. At this time last offseason, nobody would have expected them to start in the NFC Championship game. San Francisco also found a quality receiver in Marquise Goodwin, who caught 56 passes for 962 yards on a two-year, $6 million contract and receiver Kendall Wright grabbed 59 passes for the Bears after signing a one-year, $2 million deal last offseason..

Who might be this year’s low key impact signing? There are several players who could fill needs for the Vikings that you won’t find on “top free agent” lists. Let’s have a look…

*(Side note: Under-the-radar offensive linemen and defensive players are on the way soon…)*

QB, Chase Daniel

Nov 29, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel (10) warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Key stat: 78 career passes

Why he fits:

Someday, somehow, Chase Daniel is going to get an opportunity to play. The 31-year-old quarterback, who threw for over 4,000 yards in back-to-back college seasons at Missouri has been in the NFL since 2009 and nothing has broken his way. Backing up Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Carson Wentz, he has only started two games – one in 2013 and another in 2014. Not that Daniel is likely to turn into a star, but there has to be a reason why good teams have kept him around as their in-case-of-emergency QB. If the Vikings end up needing a veteran backup, Daniel could be on their list.

Not to mention that the rest of the backup QB crop is less than attractive. Miami’s Matt Moore is the most “proven” player on the list outside of AJ McCarron, who could land a starting gig.

RB, J.D. McKissic

Oct 1, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back J.D. McKissic (21) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 46-18. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Key stat: 34 receptions, 7.8 yards per catch

Why he fits:

If the Vikings are looking for a cheap Jerick McKinnon replacement, McKissic is a solid pass catcher out of the backfield. He was a wide receiver in college and proved to have some playmaking ability with the Seahawks last season. At 24 years old, there could be some room for further development.

RB, Charles Sims

Aug 26, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Charles Sims (34) runs with the ball against the Cleveland Browns during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Key stat: No. 3 ranked pass blocker of all free agent RBs

Why he fits:

Over the last three years, Sims has rushed 178 times for 777 yards (4.4 yards per carry), caught 110 passes for 1,000 yards and been an effective pass protector for the Bucs. As an all-around player, Sims could rotate into any type of situation to give Dalvin Cook a breather.

RB, Benny Cunningham

Key stat: 8.8 yards per reception

Why he fits:

The Vikings could aim for a pure pass catcher to fill their No. 3 spot. Cunningham has 107 catches over his past four seasons and has averaged 8.7 yards per catch. He hasn’t been given a ton of opportunities to run – only 171 carries over the past four seasons – but he’s averaging 4.4 yards per rush.

RB, Jeremy Hill

Key stat: Averaged 10 touchdowns per season over his first three years

Why he fits:

Last year was a miserable one for Hill, but he showed the ability to be an impact player from 2014-2016, averaging 919 yards per year, 10 touchdowns and 21 receptions per season. At 6-foot-1, 233-pounds, the 25 year old brings a goal line presence the Vikings may seek if they cut Latavius Murray.

WR, Deonte Thompson

Key stat: 43.8 percent deep catch rate

Why he fits:

The former Florida Gator has bounced around the league for his first five years, but he may have found a niche last season. Thompson grabbed 38 passes and caught seven of 16 deep throws with zero drops. In a full season’s worth of snaps over the last two years, he has 62 receptions and averages a solid 14.3 yards per catch. If the Vikings are looking for a cheap outside receiver to compete for a spot, Thompson may have some upside.

WR, Ryan Grant

Key stat: 84.2 percent catch rate out of the slot

Why he fits:

While the Vikings like putting Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in the slot, it might help to have another versatile receiver with slot experience. Grant caught 45 passes on 63 targets last season and only had three drops.

WR, Jaron Brown

Key stat: 15.4 yards per catch

Why he fits:

Last year Brown received more opportunity in the past and made some big plays. He made 14 catches that traveled more than 10 yards through the air and only dropped one pass on 64 targets.

TE, Luke Wilson

Nov 10, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson (82) runs for extra yards after a catch in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Key stat: Career 12.7 yards per catch

Why he fits:

If the Vikings can’t land top free agent tight end Trey Burton, they will have to look at other options for a No. 3 TE who can provide some mismatches. Wilson has averaged 20 receptions per 16 games over his career in Seattle and created a handful of big plays. Wilson fits the athletic profile of a role-playing tight end. He ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at 6-foot-5, 250-pounds.

TE, Ed Dickson

Jan 1, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Carolina Panthers tight end Ed Dickson (84) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Carolina Panthers 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Key stat: 30 receptions on 44 targets

Why he fits:

With Greg Olsen out, Dickson received more opportunity than in previous years and performed admirably, averaging 14.6 yards per reception. Like Luke Wilson, he is a mismatch tight end who ran a 4.59 40-yard dash once upon a time. The 30 year old won’t offer a whole lot of run blocking skill, but might fit in certain situations.

The post 10 under-the-radar offensive free agents who could help the Vikings appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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