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Bleacher Report – Vikings

The 5 most intriguing Restricted Free Agents

By Matthew Coller

Somewhere toward the top of the Minnesota Vikings’ long offseason to-do list is: “Re-sign Adam Thielen.”

After a terrific 2016 season, it’s possible the Vikings’ Restricted Free Agent wide receiver will field a few phone calls. If he signs an offer sheet, the Vikings would have to decide whether to match or let him walk an accept a second-round pick.

Offer sheets are fairly uncommon in the NFL, but a handful of players sign them each year. The Rams used one to grab center Ryan Groy away from the Buffalo Bills this year.

Minnesota hasn’t often dipped into the RFA market much recently. The Vikings did, however, have a very notable offer sheet, signing Steve Hutchinson to a $49 million deal back in 2006 when $49 million was a truck load of money for a lineman.

Assuming the Vikings do re-sign Thielen, they are still likely to have cap space to spend. Filling a running back, cornerback and possibly receiver spot shouldn’t cost all $26 million the Vikings have to use. While there isn’t a great chance the Vikings cut a deal with an RFA, there are a few players they should consider.

WR – Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta Falcons

Tender: Second round

2016 stat line: 35 catches, 579 yards, 6 touchdowns

A rich man’s Cordarrelle Patterson, Gabriel made the Cleveland Browns look foolish (imagine that!) for cutting him last season. He may only be 5-foot-8 and come from Abilene Christian University, but Gabriel is a serious big-play threat with the ball in his hands and can effectively run routes against tough corners. While he has found a nice niche in Atlanta, the 26-year-old receiver is capable of being an even larger part of a team’s offense.

RB – Mike Gillislee, Buffalo Bills

Tender: Fifth round

Stat line: 101 carries, 577 yards, 6 touchdowns

This should be a no-brainer. In 154 carries over three seasons, “Touchdown Mike,” as he was dubbed by Rex Ryan, averaged 5.6 Yards Per Carry and scored 11 TDs. His success has been in a small sample as a fill-in for LeSean McCoy, but at the price of a fifth-round pick, it would be worth plucking him away from a cap-strapped team.

WR – Dontrelle Inman, Los Angeles Chargers

Tender: Second round

Stat line: 58 catches, 810 yards, four touchdowns

A reliable target for quarterback Phillip Rivers, Inman took a step forward in 2016 and was rewarded with 23 more catches and 29 more targets than in 2015. Inman, who played two seasons in the CFL before joining the Chargers. would fit the mold of the Vikings’ top two underdog receivers who pride themselves on route running and catching everything thrown their way. The Chargers would likely do everything they could to hang onto Rivers’ new favorite target.

RT – Cameron Fleming, New England Patriots

Tender: Fourth round

Fleming has been a project for the Patriots. He started to show signs of progress last season, filling in admirably in two games, one at left tackle and the other at right tackle. Fleming was praised by head coach Bill Belichick as a smart and versatile player who acted as the sixth linemen in key running situations. Giving up a fourth-round pick for a tackle who has been developing seems like it would be better than drafting a long shot. Of course, in order to do so, the Vikings would have to give him a bigger contract that the Pats were willing to match.

Andrew Norwell, Carolina Panthers

Tender: Second round

As an undrafted free agent from Ohio State, Norwell has been an incredible find for the Panthers. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound guard has started 38 games over the last there years and been among the best players at his position in all three seasons. Pro Football Focus ranked Norwell the 11th best guard in the NFL last season, just behind recently-signed free agents Kevin Zeitler and TJ Lang. In order for Carolina to let him leave, the price would probably have to be outrageous.

The post The 5 most intriguing Restricted Free Agents appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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