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free agency

Big Off-Season… Massive Opportunity!!

As we prepare for another roller coaster off-season with the Minnesota Vikings, we are once again feeling the usual hope and optimism. With the draft around the corner, many fans and experts have their own ideas of what Vikings will do come April. Do you take the best available player, or do you draft for need? Or will Rick once again trade back and recoup some lost picks? Either way, it seems like for the first time in a while the Minnesota Vikings are in a unique position. Over the last few years, so many game-changers were selected in the 8-15 range. You can go offense or defense and get a guy that fits right in to make an instant impact.
For the first time in the Mike Zimmer era, it was the offense that carried this team and put us on the brink of a playoff spot even with a 1-5 start. So, assuming that continues with some new additions upfront, you would be right to believe the Vikings are going to be a strong contender next season. As always, the biggest challenge that new OC Klint Kubiak will have to figure out is how to protect Kirk Cousins and allow him to really take over in games.
Addressing our biggest issue!

Common sense would suggest the Vikings take the highest-ranked offensive lineman. Kirk Cousins was the 3rd most pressured quarterback in the league last season (38.6%) but still managed to finish in the top 10 in passer rating (105.0). The Vikings have done reasonably well over the last 2 years taking an offensive lineman in the 2nd round of those drafts and they have both worked out quite well, but we don’t have a pick in the 2nd round this year so maybe this is the year we address that position we so desperately need to improve on to allow our offense to be even more explosive next year.
Another option, however, is building our offensive line through free agency. The name that jumps up at you is Trent Williams, who the Vikings tried to acquire last year but he refused. The free agency pool seems to be filled with quite a few really solid offensive linemen that could instantly make our team better and would need no introduction to the league. A perfect example of a veteran lineman going to a team and making a huge impact is Andrew Whitworth going to the Los Angeles Rams and solidifying that line in the run and most importantly protecting the quarterback’s blindside. Paying for an established player in that position is one of the few roster moves that are very low risk and tend to work out more than often.

The most unlikely scenario would be to trade for one of the available players in that position. This wouldn’t be such a bad idea considering the nature of the position. Offensive linemen tend to play till much later in terms of age compared to most other positions. Ravens are said to be looking for a 1st round pick from anyone interested in Orlando Brown Jr who had a tremendous season at left tackle. The Vikings should strongly consider this as an option, Brown is 23 years old and will shore up that position for at least the next 8 years. A 1st round pick is a small compensation to pay for a player that would be a massive part of your offense for a decade.

The Other Side of the Ball
The Vikings’ strong point for the entirety of Mike Zimmer’s tenure as the head coach has been defense. That was not the case last season, the Vikings ranked 30th overall, our pass rush was non-existent (28th in sacks) and what was even more alarming was how easily teams were able to run the ball at will. Injuries happen all over the NFL but to have so many starters and their replacements out injured took a massive toll on the team. One thing that Vikings fans can be certain of is that there will be no repeat of this and we can be sure that our defense will be back to its usual self.
Not only do the Vikings have a lot to look forward to with players coming back from injury, but the young cornerbacks also really came into their own as the season progressed. Cameron Dantzler was the highest-graded cornerback since week 7.
Expectations or False Hope?
There is plenty to look forward to if you’re a Vikings fan, if we can somehow manage to put it all together, we can build something special. This offseason we have a very rare opportunity where if we play our cards right we can certainly put our names firmly in the mix for the NFC.

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adam thielen

What is the Vikings 2021 Offseason Plan for Adam Thielen? ​

When the 2020 season quickly became unfriendly to the Minnesota Vikings, trade rumors aplenty circulated, affecting nearly every player on the roster – even the ones viewed as untouchable.
Kirk Cousins, Harrison Smith, and Danielle Hunter all graced the hearsay-infused trade talks. Unsurprisingly, the rumors did not materialize as everyone not named Yannick Ngakoue stayed put. Ngakoue – who played for the Vikings for seven weeks – was shipped to the Baltimore Ravens for a 3rd-Round draft pick.
Adam Thielen was also whispered about during the fire-sale hubbub. At 30 years old, Thielen is approaching the age when he either begins a subtle decline of aptitudes or emulates Larry Fitzgerald and plays forever.

A performance-related decline was not on the docket for Thielen in 2020. Alongside rookie Justin Jefferson, Thielen snatched nearly 1,000 receiving yards and a career-high 14 touchdowns. Had Thielen been targeted like DeAndre Hopkins or Stefon Diggs, he would have grabbed north of 20 touchdowns – which is near Randy Moss’ NFL record (23) from 2007.
But the Vikings 2020 offseason will embrace some elements of change. The team already has new offensive, special teams, and defensive back coordinators. Difficult decisions on the futures of Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Harris, and Riley Reiff loom.
What about Thielen? Well, he likely escapes any topsy-turvy contractual business altogether, and here’s why.
35th-Best Player in the NFL for 2020

Adam Thielen is no longer underrated or underappreciated. This beset him until 2018 or so, but now he is perceived nationally as a formidable, reliable pass-catcher.
Pro Football Focus decided Thielen was the 35th-best player in the league during 2020. 1,696 active players participate in games on a regular NFL Sunday, and that makes Thielen’s ranking a big deal.
On Thielen, PFF’s Sam Monson commented:
“With Justin Jefferson putting together the kind of season he did as a rookie in Minnesota, it’s easy to overlook Adam Thielen or miss the fact that he had 14 receiving touchdowns this season. Thielen caught just under 70% of passes thrown his way and generated a 120.5 passer rating for Kirk Cousins on his targets. He remains one of the best route-runners in the game and is capable of spectacular plays at the catch point, as well. Thielen may not have had a career year in receptions or yards, but he was outstanding on the chances he got.”

High praise for the Minnesota State alumnus. It’s respect like this that deems it unlikely the Vikings would trade Thielen or fundamentally restructure his contract. Put simply – Thielen is considered the NFL’s sixth-best wide receiver by PFF. Why the hell would Minnesota want to remove that caliber of player from its orbit? Particularly in a league that trends more pass-happy each season.
League’s 11th-Highest Paid WR
Equal pay for equal work: That is Adam Thielen described in a nutshell. His yardage output tailed off a tad as Justin Jefferson fiercely emerged last season. Minnesota does not throw the football as much as other franchises, so Jefferson and Thielen spilt the targets. And Jefferson got a bit more attention.
Not in the redzone, though. Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill were the only two wide receivers to score more touchdowns than Thielen in 2020. At age 30, Thielen’s knack for scoring is increasing – which bodes tremendously well for the remainder of his career. Should he morph into a touchdown-heavy guy on an annual basis, well, he can play until his late-30s.

Thielen developed his prowess for scoring in 2018, and it was not an outlier. Since 2018, he has scored 29 touchdowns while missing 15% of games. Behind Adams and Hill, Thielen ranks third in receiving touchdowns-scored during the last three seasons (when Kirk Cousins arrived in Minneapolis).
The seven-year Vikings veteran is the 11th-highest-paid wideout leaguewide per average annual salary ($16.2 million). One would be hard-pressed to find a fairer salary ranking for Thielen. He is roughly in the ballpark for 10th or 11th-best wideout in the NFL and thus compensated accordingly. Simple as that.
A Lovable Dude That Stays Put
Thielen’s contract and employment will remain as-is because he deserves it. Statistical output and on-the-field consistency affirm his monetary value is equitable.
Plus, he is a fan-favorite – beyond the shadow of a doubt. Can you imagine Thielen wearing a helmet that does not have white horns? Take a minute to envision that. It is foreign.
Several areas for contractual tweaking will be evaluated roster-wide during the coming months. Based on value and production, Thielen should enter 2021 with his contract untouched.

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draft

All Signs Pointing To EDGE Rusher for Vikings at No. 14

The 2021 NFL Draft occurs in less than seven weeks, and the Minnesota Vikings will rely on its draft class in 2021 more so than other years. Due to Minnesota’s already-finicky salary cap standing and the NFL presumably slashing budgets because of coronavirus fallout, rookie players will require immediate involvement for the 2021 Vikings. 

The Vikings have pressing roster to holes to patch.

ProFootballNetwork released a mock draft this week, authored by Nick Farabaugh, and Minnesota is on tap to select a defensive end with its 14th overall pick – Kwity Paye of Michigan. On Paye, Farabaugh writes:

“The Vikings’ defense is a hot mess. However, they have been at their best when they can trust their pass rushers to get to the quarterback. Outside of Danielle Hunter, however, there are just a bunch of guys at edge rusher in Minnesota. Kwity Paye comes in and gives the Vikings a high-upside type of guy with explosiveness and a growing repertoire of moves, despite lacking the ideal length.”

Also this week, CBS Sports dropped a mock draft of its own. Josh Edwards of CBS sends Gregory Rousseau of Miami (FL) to Minnesota:

“Minnesota needs to replenish the talent on their team. Until they address the unstable cap situation, their growth will be hamstrung. Gregory Rousseau is the Everson Griffen replacement that the team had hoped Yannick Ngakoue would be.”

For now, the stars are aligning for a defensive end to the Vikings, and that should be applauded. 

The Need

The Vikings had the NFL’s worst pass rush during 2020 per Pro Football Focus. 

Ben Linsey of PFF notes on the Vikings 2020 pass rush:

“The Vikings lost their starting edge tandem from the 2019 season of Danielle Hunter (to injury) and Everson Griffen (to free agency), and they struggled to replace that production in 2020. The only player on the team with more than 25 pressures was Ifeadi Odenigbo (42), and their team pressure rate of 21.6% ranked dead last over the course of the regular season. That was just part of the story for a Minnesota defense that parted ways with many of their starters this past offseason.”

When a Mike Zimmer-coached football team is last via pass rush, something is wrong. Very, very wrong. While it is accurate that the returns of Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce will substantially aid the defensive line, quarterback pressure is rapidly becoming a prerequisite for Super Bowl champions. So – the more the merrier. Look at what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did to Boy Wonder Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV. 

Kwity Paye or Gregory Rousseau would get the Vikings closer to pass-rushing supremacy. 

Natural Blend of Need and Best Player Available

A defensive rusher like Paye or Rousseau falling into general manager Rick Spielman’s lap checks two important draft philosophy boxes. The selection of either man does not compel the Vikings to “reach” for a need with the 14th pick. Why? Because Paye and Rousseau, for now, are theorized to be that damn good. 

And guess what? Minnesota needs a defensive end. Ifeadi Odenigbo might return to his late-2019 form when he went on a marvelous run opposite Hunter. But that is a gamble that leaves a lot of 2021 game-planning to chance. Of course, Paye or Rousseau could be terrible, but the two undeniably have a higher ceiling than Odengibo. 

Hunter-Paye or Hunter-Rousseau will create more long-term fear in opponents than Hunter-Odenigbo. With Odenigbo, one can reasonably be excited if he tallies about seven sacks because of the expectation of his ability. Paye and Rousseau should, in time, register Hunter-like numbers in sacking quarterbacks. 

EDGE in Round 1 is Overdue

If national punditry is correct, Minnesota selecting a defensive end at No. 14 will be nostalgic. The Vikings have not chosen a first-round defensive end since 2005. It was the same year wideout Troy Williamson was regrettably plucked from the 1st Round and the same season that Daunte Culpepper’s career unceremoniously concluded in Minnesota. 

At pick No. 18 of the 2005 NFL Draft, Minnesota tapped Erasmus James from Wisconsin for pass-rushing services. He started a total of 12 games in his tiny NFL career and tallied five total sacks. Perhaps this is why Minnesota imposed an at-least 15-year drought on choosing EDGE rushers in the 1st Round. James was a bust. 

The Vikings also were emphatically not a defensive team in 2005. Mike Zimmer was a defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys at the time. Now, he’s the defense-always-first head coach for the Vikings. A Spielman-Zimmer joint selection of Paye or Rousseau should be significantly more profitable than James’ bust-worthy performance.  

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Around the League

How Carson Wentz Can Resurrect his Career

Carson Wentz has been the talk of trade speculation ever since the NFL season ended. His performance, along with the rest of Philadelphia’s play, has diminished since they won Super Bowl 52 back in the 2017 NFL season. But a change of scenery could help Wentz, as well as the Eagles, in the long run.

Note: this article is a preview of our soon to be launched general NFL site, FranchiseTagged.com! Check for that in the coming weeks and stay tuned to all UFFda! Sports sites to stay ontop of your game!

Carson Wentz was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft out of North Dakota State University. He has been solid as a QB can be prior to the 2020 season. However,he has not panned out to be the franchise QB of the future for the Eagles as evidenced with the selection of Jalen Hurts in the 2nd Round of the 2020 NFL draft. It’s only a matter of time until he is traded, but he could still save his career if a trade occurss with the right team. 

Roller Coaster So Far

Wentz has posted solid QB stats, averaging around 3362 yards per season. Prior to 2020, Wentz had three straight seasons of seven interceptions, along with 20+ touchdowns, although he did miss 8 games total due to injury. Before his demoition against Green Bay, Wentz had 2620 yards, 16 TDs and 15 Ints, to go along with a career low 57.4% completion percentage.

The only true weapon he’s had during his career has been Zach Ertz. Yet as a TE, unless one is on the level of Travis Kelce or a Rob Gronkowski as far as career goes, a QBneeds wide receivers to help out — which is something Wentz has not had amid his career. As in, a true WR1. Some QBs make WRs good, and sometimes it’s vice-versa. If Wentz had a true deep threat at WR, his play may improve.

Carson Wentz signed a four year, $128 million extension, with $107 million guaranteed. He carries a dead cap hit of $24.5 million for next season and would be on the books for $31.2 million. 

Run Game, Frank Reich a Big Factor

While most media pundits place a QB’s win/loss record on the QB, there are other factors that can play a part in how much blame should be put on the QB for losses. The defense regressing — like it did for the Eagles from the 2017 season to the 2018 season — surely can be attributed to more weight on Wentz’s shoulders. It certainly doesn’t help a QB when a defense gives up 21 points a game, because then that team relies on the QB to at least have the ability to put up 3 TDs if his run game doesn’t help him out.

Josh Adams led the Eagles in 2018 with 511 rushing yards and tied the team high with 3 rushing TDs, both down from 2017 totals of LeGarrette Blount with 766 rushing yards, and Corey Clement with 4 TDs. The team totals from the 2017 squad was 473 attempts for 2115 and 9 TDs, while the 2018 team had 398 attempts for 1570 yards and 12 TDs. So, while the TDs increased, the Eagles employed more pass plays and less run plays.

Frank Reich, like many offensive coordinators who come from successful offensive attacks, was offered a promotion to be a head coach in 2018. He was the offensive coordinator Wentz’s first two years in the league, but after the Super Bowl season the Eagles had, he soon moved to Indianapolis and has posted a record of 28-20 record in the three years since. The Colts have made the playoffs twice in three years, and they won the AFC South this past year. With Reich as coach, and Philip Rivers announcing his retirement, could Indy be the best spot for Wentz to get back to his early years?

Wentz to IND Makes Sense

First, take into consideration the familiarity of Reich and Wentz. As an offensive coordinator, Reich saw the productive play of Wentz. Too, play calling helps the QB. Over the three seasons Reich has been head coach for the Colts, the Colts have attempted no less than 400 carries on the ground. 

The Colts finished the 2020 season with 1996 rushing yards and 20 TDs to go along with the ninth-ranked offense overall. They were led on the ground by 21-year-old rookie Jonathan Taylor, who in 15 games played accumulated 1169 yards and 11 TDs on the ground — both numbers that which Wentz has not had out of the backfield.

Second, improved offensive line play. While the Eagles do boast the 10th best center in the league per PFF in Jason Kelce, much of the rest of the offensive line is average at best. Lane Johnson, while posting the 12th best pass blocking grade, is 33 years old and not getting any younger. The left side of the Eagles offensive line also isn’t doing any favors for Wentz, whereas with the Colts, the team employs Quenton Nelson. At 25 years old, Nelson is going to be a staple on the Colts offensive line for years to come. Having a young and top 3 guard in the league should peak Wentz’s interest to at least give Indianapolis a chance if they decide to trade for him.

Finally, Indianapolis has the cap space to make a trade for Wentz to work, and still have money to spend to improve the receiving corps. The Colts currently have over $78 million in cap space to play around with. So, while Wentz’s cap hit will take that number down, Indianapolis will have ample money to sign a couple prized free agents to improve their team.

It might seem like a gamble for Wentz, but the Colts are a team that could turn the QB’s career around. If it pays off, the Colts could be a force in the AFC indefinitely.

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General News

How Long Will Kirk Cousins Remain the Vikings QB?

Kirk Cousins became a member of the Minnesota Vikings in the spring of 2018 and has since led the team to a modest 25-22-1 (.531) record. In the first season, Cousins personally – and the Vikings as a team – fell short of lofty expectations. Minnesota finished with a winning record by the slimmest of margins at 8-7-1 (.531). That was the season that rookie kicker Daniel Carlson missed several kicks in Week 2 at Lambeau Field versus the Green Bay Packers. Had Carlson connected on one, the Vikings would have later reached the postseason. They were just one win away from the NFC’s sixth seed. That is not a “maybe,” it’s the cold-hard truth.
That unfulfilling season caused causal Vikings fans to grouse. Cousins was earning a boatload of money – all of it guaranteed. The following season was a bit more beamish as the team won a playoff game in New Orleans in stunning fashion. But the reputational damage to Cousins from the 2018 maiden voyage lingered.
And now VikingsLand is at a point with Cousins where the narrative about him cannot be wholly changed without a Super Bowl visit. He is probably the only quarterback in the NFL held to this standard. Players like Philip Rivers escaped this nationally-themed wrath for nearly 20 years. A different set of standards inexplicably applies to Cousins.

Trade rumors pertaining to Cousins – although squashed by Vikings leadership – have swirled this offseason. So far, all prittle-prattle about his involvement in a trade is false. Some reports placed Cousins on the San Francisco 49ers roster. Other whispers theorized the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, and Houston Texans as landings spots. All of it has been hearsay.
Evidently, the Vikings are quasi-committed to the 32-year-old. But how long will he stay in Minnesota?
Probably a minimum of two to three more years.
By the Numbers

Since Daunte Culpepper’s career with Minnesota ceased in 2005, the Vikings have searched high and low for a quarterback that could mimic Culpepper’s statistical production. For one single season – 2009 – Brett Favre answered the call and even made Culpepper look pedestrian. After that, Teddy Bridgewater was promising for two years before he, too, succumbed to a Culpepper-like injury.
The franchise settled on Cousins. After Culpepper [but before Cousins], the quarterback spot was filled by a myriad of interlopers. Interloping at quarterback is Vikings football – and such has been the case since Tommy Kramer retired in 1989.
In three years, Cousins has delivered 91 touchdowns. Minnesotans were pleased with Bridgewater when he tossed 14 scores in a season. Bridgewater was allotted a leash of romanticism whereas Cousins gets dragged around by the collar.
Cousins provides the passing yards, touchdowns, completion percentage, passer rating, and deep-ball prowess that fans have begged for in the last 30 years. He does his job. The weaknesses to his repertoire are evident – some fumbles and suspect pocket presence are the main culprits.

On consistency, however, the good outweighs the bad. Minnesota can rely on Cousins to author 25 to 35 touchdowns – like clockwork – per season. Nobody has replicated this since Culpepper. Based on consistency alone, Cousins will be in charge of the offense indefinitely so long as Rick Spielman has a job.
By the Dollars
In this situation, money might be more important than performance.
Cousins is a lock to do what he does – about 4,000 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. There is enough sample size to prognosticate this with integrity. But his yearly contract figure conversely fluctuates.

His cap hit in 2021 is $31 million. Next year, that is scheduled to balloon at $45 million. At that sum, yes, Cousins is overpaid. And that’s why Minnesota is unlikely to pay out $45 million for a single season’s work.
Between now and March of 2022, Cousins will probably extend his deal to 2023 or beyond for relief on the monstrosity of a cap hit. This will irritate the fussbudget crowd, but too-bad-so-sad. General managers and head coaches happen to enjoy quarterbacks that top 4,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns annually. So should you – especially as a Vikings dieharder engrained with quarterback hopscotch.
Just as the performance metric hints, the money suggests Cousins’ contract will be reworked to grant him more time in Minnesota – not float in trade-rumor purgatory.
If Not Cousins – Who?
Indeed, it would be neat if the Vikings employed Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, or Deshaun Watson. But they don’t.
If Watson was [somehow] dealt to the Vikings, he would later command about $50 million per season, and the trade would necessitate Minnesota sending an unprecedented trade haul to Houston. Both hypotheticals are less than ideal. Watson’s Texans finished 4-12 last season, so the man cannot single-handedly schlepp his team to prosperity. You know – like we ask of Kirk Cousins.
Spielman could try the rookie quarterback maneuver. Draft a young player at quarterback and hope he is closer to Josh Allen’s likeness than Josh Rosen’s. That is a gamble. If the Cousins experience does not net a Super Bowl, the Vikings are on tap for this strategy.
Signing a free agent from this 2021 class will get the purple and gold something like Cam Newton or Andy Dalton. If one believes those two are more exciting than Cousins, perhaps more Sundays on the couch actually watching football games is in order.
Cousins is the best thing going for the Vikings in the large scheme of quarterback possibilities. Despite some shortcomings — that Minnesota fans magnify because they watch every snap of Vikings football — he is a formidable starting quarterback.
And that’s why he will be around for at least a couple of more seasons.

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Around the League

Yahoo! Sports lists 2 potential NFC North landing spots for JJ Watt

By nearly every measurable metric, 2020 was the worst year on record for basically anyone who isn’t an immortal. Between COVID’s impact on the lives of far too many people, to the economic fallout inherent when you have zero federal oversight or assistance (I’m not pushing my political beliefs, rather parroting the reality of a situation in which hospitals and states had to compete with one another for life saving equipment), to the even more unshakeable and annoying virus that spread to Tampa last fall in Tom Brady who won his 1.6 millionth Super Bowl. 

It’s just been bad. 

There are some good things coming on the horizon, though, as the vaccine(s) is on the way, and when it comes to the NFL? We’re looking at what might be the most landscape altering off-season in league history. Matthew Stafford is already in LA, there’s rumblings in the Pacific Northwest that Russell Wilson wants more protection and power while the Seahawk management want him to stop openly speaking on or near a camera. 

There’s DeShaun “Anywhere but Houston… or Minnesota” Watson, and even talks that Aaron Rodgers may want out of Green Bay at some point. 

Then you have the most recent league shattering news that the Houston Texans released JJ Watt. Watt, an injury plagued but otherwise perfect player and pillar of whatever community he is in, is now the talk of the NFL with site after site prognosticating as to where the big fella may end up.

Enter this article from Yahoo! Sports- 

https://sports.yahoo.com/5-possible-destinations-for-where-jj-watt-could-sign-182028636.html

That lays out the 5 possible destinations for Watt. Two of which are NFC North squads, none of which are the Vikings. So, excitement over.

What teams did he point to? Let’s find out!

Green Bay Packers

Watt is a Wisconsin native and a self-avowed Packers fan as a kid, having grown up two hours down the road from Green Bay, just outside Milwaukee.

The Packers just made a second straight NFC title game, and Watt is believed to want to join a contender. Those two elements are two huge selling points, as Watt would walk in the door a beloved figure in Wisconsin again after starring there in his college days.

Watt and Aaron Rodgers also are said to have a healthy relationship, with each going out of their way to praise the other in their years of competing against one another. Even so, there was a fun moment back in 2012 when Watt sacked Rodgers and mocked his “Discount Double Check” celebration of yore.

This pairing isn’t hard to envision, and it would help boost a Packers front that had Kenny Clark but few other standouts last season. Green Bay has the ability to free up enough cap space to make this happen, we suspect.

The other team? 

Chicago Bears

This is our long shot of the lot, but it wouldn’t be stunning to see the Bears make a run at Watt in a critical season for head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace.

For the Bears’ brass, it would be an opportunity to sell the franchise’s love affair with defense and perhaps send signals to other prospective free agents that they’re serious about contending this season.

But for Watt to consider the Bears, they’d likely have to play up the idea of him being in the same city as his wife, Kealia Ohai Watt, who plays for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

It’s a stretch, and there’s the question of whether the Bears could afford Watt, but they’d have to make a run at him, even with major questions looming at quarterback and with the free-agent status of leading receiver Allen Robinson, who should be a higher priority if he’s interested in coming back.

Let’s break down my thoughts on these two potential destinations. 

I hope to GOD that Watt doesn’t end up in his home state as, and this is breaking news I was just finally able to confirm, the Vikings offensive line has gone from ‘meh’ to ‘liability’ to ‘god awful’ to now, after a 2020 season that ended up with the unit doing WORSE in the annual PFF O-Line rankings than it had in 2018/2019 (which is saying something)? A level that we’ve had to mail away to NASA to get the correct math on just how bad the Vikings line is and was. 

I wonder why guys like DeShaun Watson wouldn’t want to come here? Or people saying Russell Wilson? Who is angry because he played behind a unit in the mid-teens? Yeah, he’ll totally want to come play behind that line. 

But Watt is still only 31, and with rest and a reason to care, he could become the force he once was (although he had a great year in 2020 in every level, per PFF, so I’m not saying he’s been awful or anything). 

Having him on either the Packers or Bears? Especially a Bears line that’d have him, Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks? 

Yeah, no thank you. 

So let’s hope that he doesn’t fit in at either team for any reason, as the last thing we need is for our paper mache line to go up against that group of monsters twice a season. 

Then again, the Vikings could sign him!

They’d just have to somehow run that defense with Watt, Danielle Hunter, some Eagan HS JV linebackers and cardboard cutouts of Joey Browner at safety, because we’re BROKE now and the full details of the COVID cap haven’t been announced. 

It’s gonna be a fun off-season, though. Cough.

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Analysis

What is the Vikings Biggest Free Agent Need?

For the Minnesota Vikings and 31 other teams, NFL free agency begins on March 17th. In five weeks, dozens of relatively familiar names will find new destinations at revised price points.

An abrupt domino fell on Friday when the Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt amicably agreed to a divorce from a 10-season marriage. Watt will play for a non-Texans team for the first time in his career this September. With the jolt of a tweet, Watt suddenly belonged to 31 other franchises, at least theoretically. 

The Watt news is surprising because of the early-calendar impression on the news cycle. He is a herculean name, a sentimental favorite of most, and his release tantalizes excitement. Watt has missed 40% of all football games during the last five seasons, but when he is upright and healthy, the 31-year-old remains a force. 

Watt probably doesn’t have any business signing with the Vikings because of Minnesota’s financial restrictions. Minnesota will have a razor-thin sum of cash to spend on fresh players, and Watt is not in that ballpark for contractual dealings. 

But the Vikings roster is not set – by any means. Nearly every spot on the depth chart will necessitate some type of glance during free agency or the draft. Too, defensive end is one of those positions, but Watt likely commands – even to this day — a price tag north of $10 million. As of now, that is too rich for purple blood.

Globally, though, the Vikings needs are distinctive. are detailed in ascending order below.   

Free Safety

Anthony Harris was not welcomed back in 2020 with a contract extension. Instead, he was franchise-tagged, solidifying a commitment to the team for just one more season. His performance during the pandemic season was ho-hum. If 2020 is indicative of future output, Minnesota will let some other ballclub pay the man.

After Harris’ imminent departure, the Vikings have no clear-cut replacement. Whoever ultimately embraces the free safety role will play opposite Harrison Smith – which helps immensely. 

The Vikings can scrape the bargain bin during free agency for a player like Malik Hooker, Keanu Neal, or Karl Joseph [for example]. This approach is sensible. The other avenue is the draft, and Minnesota might spend a 3rd or 4th-Rounder on this dilemma. Players like Caden Sterns of Texas or Joshuah Bledsoe of Missouri come to mind. 

Yet, free agency makes the most sense here because the secondary – with corners like Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler – is still quite young. Adding another pup to the mix is a gamble. Last season’s secondary was a casino load of gambles, and a 29th-best defense leaguewide was the result. 

Head coach Mike Zimmer could also explore converting a player like Harrison Hand from cornerback to safety in a pinch. 

Defensive Lineman

The importance of getting personnel choices right on this one is humongous. Minnesota’s chief malady on the defensive side of the ball in 2020 was a lack of pass rush. It was abysmal. Fans got excited when the team registered a single Pressure – let alone a sack. 

The returns of Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce at EDGE and nose tackle will be transcendent when compared to last year. Butthe team can stand to add a little beef to the other defensive end spot at the 3-technique position. The Vikings notoriously employ players of a mediocre ilk at the non-NT defensive tackle spot. It is time to finally acquire somebody that creates some mayhem – like Sheldon Richardson in 2018. That could be someone like Shelby Harris or Sheldon Rankins.

For Hunter’s other EDGE bookend, the team can stick with an Ifeadi Odengibo-D.J. Wonnum cocktail or look elsewhere. Longtime Viking, Everson Griffen, wants to come back home. That may be worth some thought. A Derek Wolfe or Bruce Irvin-type may also do the trick. Both men are free agents. 

A Guard, Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt

Free safety, defensive end, and defensive tackle are irrefutably vital, but the Vikings thirst for competent guards is paramount. Until rookie Ezra Cleveland hopped into the guard spot in 2020, the Vikings guard play was as bad as it gets. Dakota Dozier, Pat Elflein, and Dru Samia were not the saviors. They were the polar opposite, in fact. 

General Manager Rick Spielman must find at least one guard who is not a career-long backup. Because this guard stuff is so bad – and so entrenched in the Vikings follies – spending big money on men like Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney is not silly. Otherwise, affordable guards like Kelechi Osemele, Mike Iupati, and Brian Winters are available, too. 

Make no mistake. Guard is the top free-agent need. Drafting late-round prospects and slipping them into “project” designation is not a sane plan anymore. The team tried it, it failed, and square one is here.

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Sansevere: ใช่ JJ Watt ไม่ได้เกิดขึ้น [Exclusive]

สิ่งที่แย่ที่สุดเกี่ยวกับการปิด NFL คือการคาดเดาอย่างกว้างขวางและจะส่งผลอย่างไรต่อแฟน ๆ ที่ต้องการให้ทีมของพวกเขาดูดี ถูกใจแฟน ๆ ชาวไวกิ้ง ในช่วงสองสามสัปดาห์ที่ผ่านมาพวกเขาได้รับการยกย่องอย่างมากถึงโอกาสในการได้มาซึ่ง Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers และอีกไม่นานคือ Russell Wilson โอกาสเหล่านั้นไม่ค่อยดีนัก แฟนคนหนึ่งบนโซเชียลมีเดียโยนสถานการณ์ทางการค้าของสามทีมที่ส่ง Kirk Cousins ​​ไปซานฟรานซิสโก Jimmy Garoppolo ไปซีแอตเทิลและรัสเซลวิลสันไปไวกิ้ง มันเป็นเพียงการแสดงออกทางอารมณ์ Seahawks แม้จะซื้อรอบแรกของ Vikings และ 49ers แต่ก็ไม่ปล่อยให้ Wilson ไป Garoppolo และตอนนี้แฟน ๆ ในชุมชน NFL 31 แห่งทั่วอเมริกากำลังฝันที่จะเซ็นสัญญากับ JJ Watt ซึ่งเผยแพร่เมื่อวันศุกร์โดย Houston Texans แน่นอนว่าแฟน ๆ ชาวไวกิ้งต่างก็มีความฝันแบบนี้ พวกเขาคิดว่า “อาจะดีไหมถ้ามีวัตต์และแดเนียลฮันเตอร์เป็นหนังสือของผู้พิทักษ์” มันไม่ได้เกิดขึ้น ชาวไวกิ้งสามารถเริ่มต้นฤดูกาลหน้าได้โดยไม่มีฮันเตอร์ซึ่งต้องพิสูจน์ว่าเขาสามารถเอาชนะอาการบาดเจ็บที่คอได้และพวกเขาจะไม่เริ่มต้นด้วยวัตต์อย่างแน่นอน เอเย่นต์ตัวแทนฟรีวัตต์สามารถเซ็นทีมใดก็ได้ ทีมที่สนใจเขามากที่สุดหรือใครก็ตามที่เป็นหัวหน้าแคนซัสซิตี้, แทมปาเบย์ไฮเวย์โดยสมมติว่าเบรดี้ไม่ได้กลับมาและคลีฟแลนด์บราวน์ ทั้งสามทีมมีช็อตที่แข็งแกร่งในการเล่นซูเปอร์โบวล์เมื่อปีที่แล้วซึ่งเป็นช็อตที่แข็งแกร่งกว่าไวกิ้ง วัตต์ต้องการแหวนและบางทีมก็เต็มใจที่จะทำแบบนั้นมากกว่าพวกไวกิ้ง ทีมที่สามารถให้เขาทั้งยิงซูเปอร์โบวล์และสัญญาที่สูงคือคลีฟแลนด์บราวน์ พื้นที่ของเงินเดือนทั้งหมดของหัวหน้า (5.09 ล้านดอลลาร์) บัคส์ (4.58 ล้านดอลลาร์) และไวกิ้ง (4.52 ล้านดอลลาร์) ขาดไปโดยมีพื้นที่ทุน 30.36 ล้านดอลลาร์ (นี่คือจำนวนสูงสุดในปัจจุบันและอาจลดลงครึ่งหนึ่งเมื่อ NFL กำหนด 20 2021 ไวกิ้งวัตต์สามารถไปที่อื่นได้แล้ว แต่คลีฟแลนด์จะต้องได้รับการพิจารณาว่าเป็นสถานที่ที่เขาควรไป

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แฟนของ Hollie Doyle: Tom Marquand คือใครและพวกเขาพบกันได้อย่างไร?
Analysis

Riley Reiff – Should He Stay or Should He Go?

The Minnesota Vikings leadership awarded Riley Reiff a handsome $1 million on Thursday. He was slated to earn the sum based on snaps-played in 2020 but was disqualified when he landed on the COVID-19 list to end the season. For a moment, it was too-bad-so-sad for the Vikings left tackle.

However, ownership brandished some grace onto Reiff’s pocketbook and took care of the nine-year NFL veteran. The news was met with warm-fuzzies from Vikings faithful while the speculation began on the long-term implication of the gridiron olive branch.

Why? Because Reiff is already scheduled to receive a sizable contractual figure in 2021. At $16.5 million for next season, Reiff is the third-highest-paid Viking on the roster behind Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter. 

Right before the pandemic season kicked off, Reiff graciously restructured his contract to make monetary room for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, a player traded from the Los Angeles Chargers to the Vikings. That trade was ill-fated as Ngakoue was dealt seven weeks later to the Baltimore Ravens for a clawback draft pick. 

Therefore, Reiff likely won’t outright restructure again in 2021. But the team could extend his deal and backload the cash for seasons down the line when the salary cap is not ransacked by the coronavirus. 

All in all, Reiff will command the seventh-most cap dollars amongst 2021 tackles throughout the NFL. He will take home more money than Eric Fisher from the Kansas City Chiefs and Ronnie Staley on the Baltimore Ravens. Per Pro Football Focusin 2020, Reiff was the 37th-best tackle in the business. So, there is a large variance between earnings and performance.

Should the Vikings keep Reiff or move on?

Performance Says: Yes

The 71.4 PFF score from 2020 is pretty good. It is not great. But there are a lot of good, serviceable tackles leaguewide. Reiff is one of them. 

The Vikings employ Ezra Cleveland on the depth chart – a player that made a collegiate living with Boise State at the left tackle spot. Minnesota utilized Cleveland at guard last season. His PFF grade was 66.2, a respectable mark for a rookie. 

For the Vikings plan at left tackle, Reiff’s output from 2020 earnestly justifies another year with the team. Minnesota’s offensive-line woes are well-documented and longstanding. Switching horses for 2021 – a season that is another win-now edition – is unwise. And Reiff’s strength is pass-blocking, which is an attribute that the team’s offensive line consistently fails to establish. 

On the whole, the current offensive-line group run-blocks with efficiency but lags in pass protection. Tossing aside the one lineman that pass-protects more so than he run-blocks – is strange methodology.

Contract: We’ll See

The cap hit is just so damn high. Reiff should be in the ballpark of the seventh-best tackle in the world based on his $16.5 million paycheck on the docket for September. He could shock the world and utterly dominate, but that is freakishly optimistic thinking. 

At his present cap hit and recent performance, Reiff is not worth the money. He will disagree, but management will not. And that’s likely why no credible soul believes Reiff will return to the team with his contract wholly intact.

The two sides – Reiff’s camp and general manager Rick Spielman – will necessitate a compromise to continue Reiff’s employment with the Vikings. The roster will likely be without Kyle Rudolph and Anthony Harris next year. Those are stomach-churning decisions to be made before Reiff is even discussed. 

Reiff is worth granting a hefty sum of cash but not $16.5 million.

Life Without Reiff

Should Spielman backload an extension and offer it to Reiff, the team might be in business. Yet, Reiff can possibly command more cash on the open market. There is no way of knowing, as of now, how loyal Reiff is to the Vikings or vice-versa.

If he is too expensive or he is jaundiced on the idea of renegotiating, Minnesota will be in a nasty spot. They will enter the decision-making portion of the offseason with only Brian O’Neill, Garrett Bradbury, and Ezra Cleveland as the nucleus of the offensive line. This can be aptly called “guard-less.” Cleveland could slide back to his natural left tackle position, and Spielman would be guard-shopping – a task that has not been too friendly to him as of late.

Minnesota would be forced to find bargain-bin solutions at guard – again – or exercise the draft as the replenishment avenue. Because 2021 has high expectations, a rookie-guard forecast is greeted with skepticism. 

The compromise — should all parties agree — is to retain Reiff via contract extension. It will lower his 2021 cap hit and enable the Vikings to hunt for one guard – not two. 

Think of it this way: No-Reiff denotes a need for two unnamed linemen that will start in 2021. Life-with-Reiff creates the need for just one starter.

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แฟนของ Hollie Doyle: Tom Marquand คือใครและพวกเขาพบกันได้อย่างไร?
justin jefferson

Justin Jefferson Is the anti-Diva

The Minnesota Vikings are privileged to have employed some of the NFL’s premium wide receivers in league history. There is seldom an era when the franchise is lacking at the WR spot of the depth chart. Each generation – and sometimes year – seems to have a household name at wide receiver for the Vikings. In that regard, the organization is spoiled. From Sammy White, Ahmad Rashad, Anthony Carter, Cris Carter, Jake Reed, Randy Moss, Adam Thielen, to Stefon Diggs, big-name pass-catchers are commonplace for the purple and gold. 

In that vein, it was no surprise that Justin Jefferson exited the 2020 NFL Draft like a bat out of hell. Of course the Vikings nailed it with a wide receiver as the team’s modus operandi is evident. Not all franchises can claim god-like names in Cris Carter and Randy Moss. 

And now Minnesotans are on the cusp of experiencing another installment of the series with a Jeffersonian pizazz. 

Jefferson must prove he is immune to sophomore slumps, but that is probably the least of his fears. His diverse skill set alone likely prevents him from one-hit-wonder chatter. His accolades (1,400 receiving yards, seven touchdowns) in 2020 are not easily replicable, and no one has mimicked the yardage mark – ever. Jefferson set the NFL record for rookie receiving yards.

Interestingly, too, his personality – although outwardly extroverted — does not mirror that of other famous wideouts. Wide receivers are notorious for holding bombastic, ball-hoarding, self-serving personas. Jefferson isn’t that. He may ask for the ball to the utmost, but he [to date] has not made a fuss like others at his position.

Because of that, Jefferson exhibits a very anti-diva demeanor.

Respect for Justin Herbert

Truth be told, Jefferson should be salty as hell that the other Justin stole his Rookie of the Year award. Jefferson was a better wide receiver among wide receivers than Herbert was quarterback among quarterbacks. This should be the litmus test for award-winning, but 82% of ROY voters disagreed. Only nine folks out of 50 voted for Jefferson’s candidacy on ROY. 

Did Jefferson sound off and bemoan the other Justin’s triumph? Nope.

Jefferson did the opposite. He declared a hyper-state of motivation for 2021 because of the snub and said: 

“He definitely deserved that award. Of course, I would want it with the things I had done. But it is what it is. I’m chasing bigger things than a rookie award.”

The obvious disappointment of not winning the rookie honor was sidestepped for motivation about the future. Some wide receivers would blast the entire voting process, the opposition, and make it a big thing. Jefferson left that to the writers of VikingsTerritory – and rightfully so. 

In most circles, Jefferson’s cordiality on the matter is described as “youth beyond [his] years.”

The Quick Clarification on Cousins Moment

The Vikings lost a pivotal game to the Chicago Bears in December. A victory in the contest would have sent Minnesota to the postseason for a date with – you guessed it – the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. But no such luck. 

In that game at U.S. Bank Stadium, Jefferson was caught on an open microphone chiding Kirk Cousins for a poor throw.Profanities laced the soundbite. The moment – seemingly immediately – became a hot-button event for the habitual Cousins savagery. Is Cousins aggravating his teammates? That was the simmering narrative. After all, Cousins had sideline disagreements in 2018 with Adam Thielen. He must be a scoundrel, right? That is what some would lead you to believe. 

Jefferson instantaneously remedied the budding controversy after the game. On the incident, he said: “Y’all love blowing stuff out of proportion. And I ain’t no diva don’t get it twisted.”

There you have it. From his own lips, Jefferson expressed the desire to avoid any diva doings. The man is wired differently. 

And, He Should Be Happy

In fairness, Jefferson does not have oodles of ammunition to irritate him, at least not directly from the Vikings. He was targeted by the aforementioned Cousins 125 times during his rookie year – the most in the NFL by a rookie since 2015 (Amari Cooper).

The NFL rookie receiving yards record was slain. Jefferson probably replaced Thielen as the team’s WR1. Dalvin Cook takes pressure off the aerial corps of the Vikings. Jefferson is well on his way to a fat payday in 2025. Life is good. 

Life is merely enhanced when the franchise’s most exciting player is not requesting trades or feuding with teammates. And Jefferson has displayed nothing of the sort.

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