Free agency isn't over, but plenty of moves have already been made in the first week-plus of the new league year.
The Vikings have received praise and criticism alike from national pundits regarding their recent roster additions – or lack thereof – but CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin gave Minnesota the highest grade of any NFC North team.
Benjamin listed Minnesota's "notable additions": CB Patrick Peterson, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, DE Stephen Weatherly, LB Nick Vigil and OL Mason Cole, whom the Vikings acquired via trade (pending a physical) Thursday.
As far as "notable subtractions," he listed TE Kyle Rudolph (Giants), T Riley Reiff (Bengals), DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (Giants) and S Anthony Harris (Eagles).
Benjamin gave the Vikings free agency moves thus far a B-minus grade. He wrote:
[The] Vikings have built a recent reputation for being good enough to get to the playoffs, but not good enough to make it much further. Their moves this offseason don't exactly spell a shift from that trend, as we've got a lot of part-swapping going on as opposed to clear upgrades. On their face, though, the decisions are fairly respectable. Rudolph and Reiff were due for fresh starts, and both Tomlinson and Peterson are perfect additions to [Head Coach] Mike Zimmer's defense. The former is a prototypical gap-plugging force up front, and Peterson, while no longer in All-Pro form, brings a steady hand to a young secondary.
Benjamin added that it "hurts" to see Harris depart for Philadelphia and that Minnesota still has "work to do at receiver" despite recently re-signing Chad Beebe. He pointed out that "the draft remains to plug other holes."
The Packers were given a C by Benjamin, and the Lions – whose roster has drastically changed – received a C-plus. Benjamin graded the Bears the lowest, giving Chicago a D.
View photos of new Vikings OL Mason Cole who recently joined the team.
ESPN highlights 'key moves' & 'what comes next' for each NFL team
With the first wave of free agency in the rear-view mirror, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler spoke with NFL executives to find “intel on all 32 teams” at this point in the offseason.
Fowler categorized "level of free-agency aggressiveness" and "top addition" for each club. For Minnesota, it was opined that "Mike Zimmer will be happy" with the Vikings activity over the past 10 days. Fowler wrote:
The Vikings had one priority to start free agency: get Dalvin Tomlinson.
Minnesota called Tomlinson's agent, Pat Dye, right at noon eastern time on March 15, as the tampering period opened.
Knowing the New York Giants wanted to bring back Tomlinson but might be strapped for money after the Leonard Williams extension, the Vikings got aggressive to hammer out a deal before New York and other suitors could make something happen.
With Michael Pierce and Tomlinson in the middle, Minnesota has a 658-pound wall that might resemble the great days of Pat and Kevin Williams from the late 2000s.
Finishing [27th] in rushing defense last season (2,151 yards allowed) is not acceptable for a Mike Zimmer defense. So the Vikings aimed to change that, as soon as free agency opened.
Hams for Hunger
Vikings fullback C.J. Ham every season shows a commitment to the Twin Cities community – and the offseason is no different.
Recently, the Minnesota native partnered again with Minneapolis first responders and Hy-Vee to donate hams – see what he did there? – this spring for families who have come upon hard times.
Ham personally spent time this week helping distribute food.