Lunchbreak: Cronin Predicts Vikings 2019 Approach to Free Agency

The frenzy that is NFL free agency begins a week from Wednesday, as the 2019 league year begins at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 13.

The Vikings were big players a year ago at this time as they signed Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson, but Minnesota might not test the waters as much this time around.

ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin recently wrote that she thinks Minnesota won’t be overly active in the coming weeks when it comes to free agency.

This is the safest prediction for a team that ranks in the bottom five of available cap space. The Vikings knew they would be restricting their capabilities in free agency for 2019 and 2020 when they signed quarterback Kirk Cousins, who accounts for 15.5 percent of the cap.

If Minnesota wants to go after an offensive lineman in free agency, franchise Anthony Barr, pay Sheldon Richardson or even consider offering Adam Thielen a new deal this offseason, it will have to get creative with how it goes about moving money around.

That means looking to restructure a handful of contracts or releasing players who could free up a chunk of cap space (i.e., Everson Griffen, Andrew Sendejo, Mike Remmers). The Vikings have to be financially choosy with the needs they address in free agency. The rest will have to come in the draft.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman addressed the topic of free agency when he met with a handful of Vikings beat reporters in Indianapolis last week at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.

Spielman said the Vikings have an internal plan that includes multiple scenarios at each position, and also added that free agency will likely be a lengthier process than a one-day spending spree.

“We actually have a game plan at each position, from A-Z. And then we have maybe four to five different scenarios [depending on] what route you’re going to take,” Spielman said. “You can’t have just one option, OK … once we get back out of the combine and go through these interviews, we’ll go back and refine that plan with what is realistic and what isn’t realistic.

“Then as we get into free agency, things happen. Sometimes you don’t get guys you may have targeted because of financial reasons or whatever, so what’s our next step? I think it’s very important that we go through three or four different scenarios and feel comfortable after spending hours talking through these,” Spielman added. “ ‘This is going to be how we address the needs on our football team, and it’s not going to happen the first day of free agency.’ I know everybody gets excited about the first day of free agency, but you don’t finish your ball club that day. It’s a continuous process.”

Reuter’s names ‘All-Combine’ Offense

The combine came to a close Monday as defensive backs went through on-field drills, making them the last position group to do so.

That capped off a busy week in which more than 330 college prospects tried to impress NFL teams through on-field workouts, medical evaluations and in-person interviews.

Chad Reuter of NFL.com recently released his All-Combine” offense, a list of players that left a mark on him. Reuter placed one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, two tight ends and five offensive linemen on his list and named a handful of honorable mentions.

He also listed what he considered to be the “best team fits” for each player, pegging two offensive linemen as possibilities for the Vikings: N.C. State center Garrett Bradbury and Boston College right guard Chris Lindstrom.

Reuter wrote:

Scouts have raved about Bradbury's play all year. Now they have confirmation of excellent athletic ability after he hoisted 34 reps on the bench, hustled a 4.92 [time in the] 40 and recorded other top-notch numbers (7.41 three-cone, 4.53 short shuttle, 31-inch vertical). A player who can control the line of scrimmage and test well is a probable first-round selection.

Bradbury was a First-team All-ACC selection by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association in 2018.

Reuter added:

Lindstrom's first-round resume got stronger during his time in Indianapolis. His 34 1/8-inch arms are longer than those of most top guard prospects, showing that he could slide outside at times like he did at BC this year. He ran (4.91 40, 7.61 three-cone, 4.54 short shuttle) and jumped (9-9 broad, 30 ½ -inch vertical) quite well, cementing his place as an elite offensive line prospect.

Lindstrom, who moved from tackle to guard for his senior season, was also an All-ACC First Team honoree this past season.

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