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Assessing where eight Vikings acquisitions fit

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings finalized Chad Greenway’s deal this week, putting one of the final pieces in place before this month’s NFL Draft.

Greenway’s one-year deal carries a $2.3 million base salary and, according to USA Today, is worth up to $2.75 million with $750,000 guaranteed. The contract figures size up the weak-side linebacker competition as Greenway, one of the franchise’s all-time leading tacklers, should command about the same cap hit as free-agent addition Emmanuel Lamur’s $2.75 million for the 2016 season, with a difference in guarantees.

Many of the Vikings’ pre-draft moves focused on retaining in-house free agents, with an expected 11 re-signings when fullback Zach Line signs his restricted free agent tender next week. However, they also inked eight new players who will push a few holdovers. There have been some questions about where the top competitions will take place, so let’s take a look now with contract details settled.

OG Alex Boone — Boone (6-8, 300) is a lock to not only make the roster, but likely start at left guard after signing a four-year, $26.8 million deal with $10 million guaranteed — trailing only Linval Joseph in guarantees to an outside free agent since Rick Spielman hired Mike Zimmer. Boone is expected to shore up the line after Brandon Fusco struggled in a switch to left guard last season. And his signing positions last year’s starters, Fusco and Mike Harris, against each other for the other guard spot.

OT Andre Smith — Smith may not be a ‘lock,’ but he’s a major obstacle for veteran Phil Loadholt. The Vikings used free agency to address the offensive line, adding Smith, a former first-round pick, to a low-risk deal. Smith (6-4, 325) started five seasons as the Bengals right tackle, before he signed a one-year contract worth up to $3.5 million with $1 million guaranteed. And that’s all the Vikings have guaranteed in the top two right tackles as veteran Phil Loadholt, a six-year starter, was forced to take a pay cut after suffering two season-ending injuries in as many years. Loadholt’s $2.25 million base salary isn’t guaranteed for the upcoming season. Each player has game-day roster bonuses and incentives worth at least $1 million in their deals, according to

S Michael Griffin – The Vikings let Robert Blanton go and signed long-time Titans safety Michael Griffin to a one-year, $2.5 million contract with $750,000 guaranteed. Though even if Griffin (6-0, 215) ultimately starts over his primary competition at safety, Andrew Sendejo likely isn’t going anywhere after signing a four-year deal that guarantees him almost $4 million for this season. The large difference in guarantees might not reflect how open the safety competition is, especially after Mike Zimmer said in February he’s seeking an upgrade next to Harrison Smith. Sendejo started 13 games last season, and is expected to compete with Griffin this offseason.

LB Emmanuel Lamur — Lamur’s signing flew under the radar, but he should be a lock to make the roster. The Vikings will move him from strong-side linebacker, where he played for the Bengals, to the weak side after signing him to a two-year, $5.5 million contract with $2 million guaranteed. Lamur (6-4, 245) was relegated to a part-time role last year in Cincinnati, but the Vikings’ investment suggests they feel the 26-year-old can compete for roles on special teams and defense in Minnesota. It’s also another wave of competition for veteran Chad Greenway, who received $750,000 in guarantees on a new deal after playing as the two-down, weak-side linebacker last season. Regardless of how the competition shakes out, both figure to be on the team as the Vikings want depth following an injury-marred year at the position.

TE Brian Leonhardt –Leonhardt has a chance to earn a backup role. The Spring Lake Park, Minn. native and Bemidji State graduate signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum this offseason to bolster the tight end position as Rhett Ellison’s projected six-month recovery continues from a torn patellar tendon suffered in January. Leonhardt, 26, has appeared in 16 games since going undrafted three years ago. His size (6-5, 255) could be the best asset for the Vikings as they could need to fill Ellison’s critical blocking role. Instead of what could’ve been a healthy payday — if healthy — Ellison signed a one-year deal reportedly with just $100,000 guaranteed and up to $790,000 in game-day roster bonuses.

LB Travis Lewis — Lewis (6-2, 235) should compete for a backup role after receiving a $50,000 signing bonus on a one-year deal last month. The former Detroit Lions linebacker appeared in 32 games in four seasons, including four career starts — all last year. The 28-year-old was a special teams contributor in Detroit and should compete there with incumbent Vikings like Brandon Watts and Edmond Robinson.

WR Terrell Sinkfield — Sinkfield (6-1, 192) signed a two-year deal for the minimum and should compete for a reserve role along with Adam Thielen and Isaac Fruechte. Sinkfield, 25, has been the Vikings’ only addition to the position this offseason, though they’re expected to add a draft pick or two later this month. He made headlines for running an unofficial 4.19 40-yard dash at Minnesota’s pro day in 2013, and was most recently with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts.

CB Melvin White — White (6-1, 215) signed a one-year deal for the minimum, meaning he also has longer odds to ultimately make the roster. White has 17 career starts in 30 appearances for the Carolina Panthers during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, parting last year with an injury settlement before joining the St. Louis Rams practice squad. He should compete against reserve cornerbacks such as Jabari Price and Marcus Sherels.

The post Assessing where eight Vikings acquisitions fit appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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