Let’s Start Tampering – How do the Vikings Address OL This Week?

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
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With the “legal tampering” period of NFL Free Agency on the horizon (begins Noon ET Monday) there are a ton of questions regarding how the Vikings go about filling their needs.

The NFL Free Agency wheels have already begun to turn with Antonio Brown being traded to Oakland earlier this weekend and, looking a little farther back, Joe Flacco taking his talents to Denver. With Joe moving to mile-high, Case Keenum packed his bags and flew to DC, where he’ll try his best again to recapture that 2017 magic he had in Minnesota.

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For some clarification on what the “legal tampering” period consists of, here is a run down. 

  • Starts 3/12 at Noon ET
  • Ends 3/14 at 4 p.m. ET
  • Teams are only allowed to negotiate with Agents.
  • Players aren’t allowed to visit any teams besides their own during this time.
  • Failure to follow the rules can lead to fines and/or loss of draft picks.
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Here are some players that could be potential targets for the Vikings as Free Agency gets underway:

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Rodger Saffold III

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Saffold has been a mainstay on the Rams offensive line since 2010. By far, one of the most coveted interior OL in this free agent class, Saffold has had a couple of stints on IR through his career, but overall he’s been very consistent.

His PFF ratings the last 3 seasons were 72.6, 80.4, and 72.8. Outside of giving up 10 sacks in just 9 starts in 2011 he’s given up no more than 3 in his other 8 NFL seasons, according to the Washington Post. The Vikings interior linemen gave up 18 sacks last season alone, and adding Saffold would go along way toward giving Kirk Cousins that pocket both he and Mike Zimmer so badly desire.

Now, the elephant in the room… Money… Good players demand good money. Saffold should demand around 9 million per year which handcuffs the Vikings, unfortunately. Because of that, I’d expect there to be dialogue, but nothing further than that.

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Billy Turner

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Turner is a local kid. He attended Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, MN and went to college at North Dakota State University. He was drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. In 2016, Turner appeared in 3 games for the Broncos and 5 games (including 2 starts) for the Dolphins. 2017 was tough too. He saw action for the Broncos in just 1 game that season.

But 2018 was Turner’s most significant year in the league, by far. He appeared in all 16 games, including 11 starts, and turned in a 62.3 PFF Grade. But, the biggest reason to keep an eye on Turner as a possible fit is money. With the Cap situation, we know the Vikings will have to be smart with their free agency dollars. Turner signed a $1.5 million contract with a $500,000 signing bonus in Denver last season… I’d look for a deal here to be something similar to that, with just one year of decent playing time under his belt.

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Matt Paradis

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Another option. Another Denver Bronco.

This is an interesting one being that Matt Paradis would come in as an established Center, meaning Pat Elflein moving to LG could become a real possibility. Although Pat played Guard for two very good years at Ohio State, he’s been at Center the last two seasons with the Vikings. Is another position change really a good idea for a guy you really need to have a bright future?

A lot of people point to the failed Mike Remmers experiment at Guard and say “no way”.

But, before a leg injury landed Paradis on IR he had a PFF grade of 79.0, which was good enough for #2 of all NFL Centers. In those 9 games, Paradis committed 2 penalties and allowed zero sacks. With a PFF Grade over 35 points higher than Elflein he no doubt would be a massive upgrade, but as with Saffold it comes back to money. Paradis should command about $9 to $10 mil annually (just like Saffold) on the open market, now the Vikings are capable of moving money around via cuts and restructures to get a deal done, the real question is… will they?

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The Vikings give Elflein a full healthy off-season of training and Rick Dennison before they think of moving him to Guard. That, along with the money he’d command, rule Paradis out. Money will be the demise in the Saffold talks too.

Out of these 3, Billy Turner is the most realistic option.

With the uncertainty of Nick Easton at LG, you’d still be able to address that position in the draft, as there are plenty to pick from. Coming off a season with the 30th ranked rushing attack and an OL that gave up 40 sacks. Changes are coming no matter which form they take.

Brian Heintz | Minnesota Sports Fan

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