Three weeks ago I released a ranked list of which pending free agents I thought should be the Vikings top targets in 2011.
With only one day until the deadline for teams to franchise their players, half of my previous list have now been taken off of the market due to being franchised. Those players are quarterback Peyton Manning (was ranked #1), guard Logan Mankins (#2), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (#3), center Ryan Kalil (#5), and outside linebacker Chad Greenway (#6) who was franchised by the Vikings.
A number of other players who could possibly have made this second version of the list also are not on the market anymore, such as Michael Vick, Vincent Jackson and Champ Bailey. So, with all of that said, here is my updated version of who I think (yes, this is strictly my opinion, so take it for what it is worth) the Vikings should target in free agency… whenever that is.
1. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders
You know it is a fairly exciting free agent group when a corner like Asomugha is allowed to hit the market. At 30 years of age, Asomugha is still one of the best at what he does. Offenses around the NFL have opted to simply stop throwing the ball towards his half of the field. Imagine this defense with that type of threat on the outside. For a more detailed explanation as to why Asomugha makes sense for the Vikings, click here.
2. Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings
Rice has some stiff competition for being named the top free agent wide out this year. Santonio Holmes and Vincent Jackson should arguably be placed higher on this list than Rice, but I am willing to give him some hometown love and also point out that he has far fewer character concerns than the other two guys mentioned. Plus, he’s only 25. Health is the biggest concern with Rice, but if he can stay on the field and get some decent throws going in his direction, he has shown he is plenty capable of dominating.
3. Dawan Landry, SS, Ravens
I fear that Leslie Frazier has enough confidence in “his guys” that the team will not make a sincere effort at upgrading the safety position. If they do decide to make a move, however, the 28 year old Landry seems like he would be the best fit out what is actually a pretty decent group of safeties. Landry is especially strong in run support, which is always a plus for this Vikings defense.
4. Johnathan Joseph, CB, Bengals
Joeseph has made a name for himself as one of the league’s top corners, despite having to play across from another very capable corner in Leon Hall. To put it bluntly, the Vikings should nab him if they can, regardless of how many corners are on the roster. You can never have too many good ones.
5. Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers
Here is a guy that you may have never heard of. That’s because he is young, played on a bad team, and just recently had a breakout season. All year long, Johnson played at a Pro Bowl level at the left end position in Carolina and ended the season with 12 sacks. With Ray Edwards and Brian Robison possibly leaving Minnesota, and Everson Griffin possibly facing suspension, this kid impressed me enough to edge out Michael Vick for the 10th spot on my list. The Panthers won’t want to see him leave… but the same goes for Ryan Kalil and DeAngelo Williams. They have some tough choices ahead of them. Johnson is only 25.
6. Manny Lawson, OLB, Niners
With Mike Singletary on board this might be a connection that comes to fruition. Lawson has played well for the Niners in their 3-4 defense, despite the fact that his skill set is really better suited for a 4-3. The Vikings locked up Chad Greenway, but Ben Leber could still end up leaving and Lawson would be a younger talent and a heck of a weakside linebacker for the Vikings.
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