A lot can change when free agency begins after the Super Bowl, but us Vikings fans have already began to cast our gaze towards the future, so what is the harm in participating in a little early speculation?
Below are five offensive players that could be hitting the free agent market this offseason that I think could greatly help this struggling Vikings offense. Of course, I’m not saying the Vikings could sign all five or would want to or anything like that… I’m just giving you five guys that this hack blogger would like to see join the team.
You will notice that there are no quarterbacks on this list. That is more of a testament to the poor free agent class than anything, as it is clear that quarterback should be the team’s top priority in the offseason.
MIKE TOLBERT, FULLBACK, AGE 25
The Vikings current starting fullback is Fahu Tahi, but his unimpressive outings combined with it being his contract year could spell the end for Tahi. Depending on the CBA, and whether or not Mike Tolbert ends up being restricted or not, this is a nose-to-grindstone type of player that I would love to see the Vikings get to replace Tahi. This young bowling ball made me jealous all season long. His adequate blocking skills, running productivity (737 yards, 11 TDs), and even receiving skills (25 catches, 216 yards) make him a threat from the fullback position which is rare. He has a toughness and attitude about him that a team can really rally around.
ZACH MILLER, TIGHT END, AGE 25
This is another guy that might end up being restricted, but if the Raiders let him walk then a lot of teams should want to sign him. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves because of what Oakland’s quarterback situation has been in his four seasons there, but I consider him one of the best tight ends in the NFL. In just under four seasons Miller used his toughness and sure hands to notch over 2,500 yards and 11 touchdowns. Now that he is hitting his prime, he could team up with Visanthe Shiancoe to provide any rookie quarterback with a pair of solid targets.
SANTANA MOSS, WIDE RECEIVER, AGE 32
Despite the poor quarterback situations the Jets and Redskins have had when Santana Moss was on the roster, he has produced over 700 yards and three touchdowns in eight straight seasons. He is only a few more yards away in 2010 from notching his fourth career 1,000 yard season. He is fast, generally sure handed, and is a consistent threat. Moss might be getting up there in age, but putting him on the field with Rice and Harvin might be a perfect fit when it comes to consistency and balance. Essentially, Moss has proven time and again that he is capable of doing everything we had hoped Berrian could.
CARL NICKS, GUARD, AGE 26
Want to know why the Vikings kicked off this season with a loss to New Orleans? Go back and watch Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks absolutely dominate the WilliamsWall. Nicks may not get the attention that Evans does, but he is one mean offensive lineman. I like Anthony Herrera, but his injury and poor performances won’t help him keep a job if/when a new coach comes around, and this offensive line needs some major help. Logan Mankins will be the top guard sought after this free agency, but if Nicks makes it there, he might be a better fit for the Vikings. He is younger than Mankins and plays on the right side, which is where the Vikes could use some help.
RYAN KALIL, CENTER, AGE 26
John Sullivan improved this year at center despite his injuries, but if the Vikings can get the best center in this year’s free agency class, Ryan Kalil of Carolina, then that will be a major upgrade. Kalil is a leader on the field and a vocal leader off the field. He’s big, young, smart, and very gifted. Adrian Peterson would enjoy having this guy paving the middle, while our (hopefully) new, young quarterback will enjoy improved pass protection.
Overall, these players do not represent the sexy pickups of Mike Vick or Terrell Owens, but could help upgrade parts of the offense that showed in 2010 that they desperately need it. While Santana Moss represents a veteran presence in a receiving group that might benefit from just that, the rest of these guys are young and could be with the team for a long, long time.