Five Ways To Make The Vikings Better And Younger

Fans are frustrated that the Vikings, despite the acquisition of Donovan McNabb, are taking a relatively low key approach to free agency so far.

I read somewhere in an article that an agent was trying all day on Friday get in touch with Rob Brzezinski and couldn’t, suggesting the Vikings front office is quite busy despite the lack of known acquisitions.

I’m still feeling out the direction this regime wants to take the team (I got pretty good at predicting what Childress was going to do) so the suggestions below are of my own imagination and nothing more.  However, at this point in the game, I thought it would be fun to point out a few free agents that are still available (I think) that could help this team not only improve, but also get younger.

Zach Miller, TE, Age 25

My personal assessment is that if Zach Miller can find the right situation, he may be able to position himself as the best tight end in the NFL when Antonio Gates retires.  He has the size and speed that you want out of a premier tight end, blocks adequately, and has proven he can produce even with the poor quarterback play that has been in Oakland over the last four seasons.

In the last three seasons, Miller has brought in between 56 and 66 catches every year.  Visanthe Shiancoe has only managed to catch 56 passes once in his eight NFL seasons.

Also, over the last three seasons, Miller has notched between 685 and 778 yards.  Shiancoe has never, in his entire career, surpassed 600 yards in a single season.

Over the spans of their careers, they both average exactly three touchdowns per season.  Shiancoe has never started for an entire season in his career, while Miller has missed only three starts in four years. 

While I really like Shiancoe he is coming off of a real down year, is set to make $3.1 million in 2011, and is entering the final year of his contract.  By signing Miller, and then releasing or trading Shiancoe, the Vikings could get a more productive tight end while also getting six years younger at the position.

Justin Blalock, G, Age 27

Anthony Herrera starts at right guard for the Vikings and, despite his $2.65 million salary in 2011, he could lose his starting gig to Chris DeGeare who was a late round pick in 2010.

Another option could be someone that new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave must have some familiarity with.  He has the size, versatility, and athleticism to be a starter in the Vikings line and while he probably wouldn’t be cheaper, he would likely be a better and younger option than Herrera.

Aubrayo Franklin, NT, Age 31

Okay, I admit it, anyone over the age of 30 probably doesn’t belong in a post that is supposed to be about a “youth movement.”  However, since he would be replacing Pat Williams in the starting lineup, Franklin still offers the Vikings an option that is seven years younger.

Franklin is a heck of a run stuffer and occasionally gets pressure up the middle, but he seldom makes big plays that translate to sacks or turnovers.  Vikings linebackers coach Mike Singletary would be able to adequately fill the Vikings in on Franklin’s potential.

I have seen more than one analyst criticize Franklin for only performing during contract seasons, but the team’s recent interest in Albert Haynesworth suggests that Remi Ayodele likely wasn’t the answer they were hoping for.

Franklin has been linked to the Chiefs thus far in free agency, and the question would be how much money he is commanding now that the has finally hit the open market.

Manny Lawson, OLB, Age 27

Manny Lawson would seemingly be a great fit in the Vikings 4-3 defense and would replace Ben Leber, who is a full five years older, on the weakside of the defense.

Again, this is a guy that the Vikings should be asking Mike Singletary about, and the longer he is available the cheaper he might get.  He has been loosely linked to the Fins, Jets, and Patriots but nobody has really jumped on the opportunity to sign him.

The Vikings need a capable replacement for Leber, but the lack of snaps that position gets means they don’t need a superstar.

With a manageable contract Lawson could be a great addition for the Vikings for a good three to five years.

Stephen Tulloch, MLB, Age 26

When one of the best 4-3 middle linebackers in football is sitting out there on the free agent market at a young age, I can’t help but wonder if the Vikings should look to get younger at the position.

As much as I hate the idea of E.J. Henderson leaving the Vikings, the fact is that he has hit the 30 mark and is in the final year of his contract.  After missing 16 games in the last three seasons his $4.7 million salary has to be making people a little nervous in the Vikings front office.

Tulloch was credited with a ridiculous 160 combined tackles in 2010, but he does come up a little short when it comes to making the big play.  In his career he has only 4.5 sacks, one interception, and has never forced a fumble or scored a touchdown.

Still, an elite tackler is something to consider.

It is rumored that the Lions may be willing to pay Tulloch upwards of $6 million per year, and it seems more likely he ends up playing against the Vikings rather than for them, but that might be all the more reason for the Vikings to consider making a play.

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20 Responses to “Five Ways To Make The Vikings Better And Younger”

  1. VSU BlazerLady says:

    And don’t forget #6 — Larry Dean from VSU!! 🙂

    You know I’m pulling for Larry, but seriously, only a half day practice for linebackers on the training camp schedule?????

    Anywho, back to the premise of the article……I said pretty much the same thing earlier on a McNabb blog……stick with your younger guys and build a team around them, but keep them around long enough to develop a chemistry. People talk about players being loyal to a team, but what about owners being loyal to players? Works both ways, and no team will ever be great if you don’t keep players around long enough to build a rapport with the other players and the fans!

  2. Zag says:

    For the record, the Bears picked up former Jets DE and supposed bust Vernon Gholston.

    They got him cheap, he’s 26, and he has a chance to redeem himself in his natural spot in a 4-3 defense with a great DE opposite him.

    You guys can hate all you want, but I’d put my money on Gholston making some progress towards redemption this season. The guy is unbelievably talented, he was just forced into the wrong system. Now he’s got a chance to make it right.

    I was hoping we’d pick him up, but our roster never really allowed it.

    • pipnorton says:

      I like the Jenkins signing. He adds needed depth at WR. If Fraizer truly believes Berrian will step up an claim the #1 WR spot he should put his job on the line. If Berrian sucks at week 8 dump them both. I would inquire about trading for Vincent Jackson from San Diego as long as it doesn’t cost a #1 pick.

    • Malte says:

      It’s funny how it not mention that he has Adrian Peterson in the Backfield (he never had that talented a RB.. Hey many teams never had that talented a RB) – He also didn’t mention the 2 great pass catching TE (I know Rudolph has yet to do anything at the NFL level, but he seems ready)
      So give the Vikings and Donovan a chance even though we might liked having Ponder / Webb get some game experience

  3. Bruce says:

    The idea of the Vikes adding another TE or MLB is ludicrous. Save the cash for a real position of need like WR or DB!

  4. bigjohnny84 says:

    Dang it Adam I wish you had a LT on the list. Oh and a safety too.

  5. lost viking says:

    Wasn’t Pete Carroll supposed to be a brilliant coach or something?

    What are we supposed to read into this news?

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/football/2011/07/30/pete-carroll-says-tarvaris-jackson-will-be-teams-starting-qb/

  6. PurplePride says:

    “Fans are frustrated that the Vikings, despite the acquisition of Donovan McNabb, are taking a relatively low key approach to free agency so far.”

    Yeah…because fans want to win now but clearly the Vikings are rebuilding and looking to win in 2-3+ years. McNabb is a stop-gap so their rookie QB with no off-season program doesn’t get murdered. This “low key approach” to FA is because being active in FA is worst way to rebuild. It destroys the cap space and the vets are past their prime before you franchise QB is ready to compete.

    You use FA to polish off an almost finished roster. (see the Eagles) You don’t use it to rebuild a roster. That is what the draft is for and if they can’t draft and develop those players well enough then it doesn’t really matter what they do in FA. (See Redskins) Face it Viking fans….this team is rebuilding and it will be a meager couple seasons. Get adjusted to that reality and stop b*tching they aren’t big players in free agency.

  7. krugjr says:

    Michael Jenkins joins the Vikings

    Posted by Gregg Rosenthal on July 30, 2011, 6:27 PM EDT

    Getty Images
    It looks like we can forget about all the rumors tying James Jones or Braylon Edwards to the Vikings. At least for now.

    ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Michael Jenkins signed a three-year deal with Minnesota. It’s a natural fit because new Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was in Atlanta with Jenkins.

    The Vikings say they are keeping Bernard Berrian, so they apparently wanted to add a trusty possession receiver and terrific run-blocker out wide rather than a huge playmaker. We still wouldn’t be shocked if the Vikings sniff around other wideouts, but they would have to dump Berrian to make a move.

    Jenkins averaged 48 catches over the last four years but rarely was a big difference maker. At this point, Donovan McNabb will look towards Percy Harvin, Berrian, and Jenkins as his top three wideouts.

  8. PurplePride says:

    Michael Jenkins as your #3? Good grief.

  9. Fragile Freds says:

    Jenkins ? Fine, whatever….

    Hey it looks like Philly got the prized corner Norm D. Asomugha – Dude would have helped the purple, but the check book is empty. So we wish Norm well in Philly.

    • CalVkg says:

      i’ve been wondering how philly can afford all these moves

      do they have a wholesale account or sumpthin?

  10. Vikadan11 says:

    This is a bad year cap wise for the Vikings ~ I didn’t and still dont look for them to be big spenders in FA ~ I hope I’m wrong though ~ I would really like to see them sign a really good OL or two ~

  11. Lost Viking says:

    Rice and Jackson are good friends and Rice said the situation in Seattle will be better for the quarterback. “It’s going to be great for Tarvaris,” Rice said. “I felt like in Minnesota, he was never let loose. He was never allowed to play comfortably like I know he can play, and I feel like he’ll get that opportunity out here to prove all those guys that think he’s not an NFL quarterback wrong.”
    Asked why Jackson wasn’t comfortable, Rice said: “Just certain things. He was never relaxed. He was always uptight, afraid to make mistakes and things like that. But as I said, I’m looking forward to him getting out here and letting it loose.”

    If T-Jax achieves in Seattle then Childress was at fault in Minnesota. He didn’t make him comfortable here.
    If he fails then Childress was wrong about T-Jax’ ability all along.
    But whether T-Jax succeeds or fails the fans will always be right.

    • CalVkg says:

      hey, lost, thanks! either way, another reason to hate on childo!

      in related news, when asked about this situation, jackson did respond, however, due to the brevity of jackson’s time in seattle, the press corps wasn’t able to yet decipher his cryptic words. senior reporters said they were working on it, but it would take some time before they could crack jackson’s code, and that additional assistance would be sought from former vikings reporter chip scoggins if seattle reporters ran into more trouble with jackson’s quotes. scoggins could not be reached for comment as he has not been seen lately at the mpls. newspaper

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