Lunchbreak: ESPN Lists Top 50 Potential Free Agents

Free agency for 2019 isn’t scheduled to begin until March 13, but there will be plenty of discussion regarding pending free agents between now and then.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert put together a list of the top 50 players who could hit the market in 2019. He made it a point of noting that some players on the list will be re-signed before hitting the open market.

The list included Vikings who were with the team in 2018 and a couple from previous seasons.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who played on a one-year deal in 2018, was ranked at No. 15 overall, and linebacker Anthony Barr, whose rookie deal from 2014 is expiring, was ranked at No. 18.

Of Richardson, Seifert wrote:

A strong year on the field, and a quiet one off it, sets up Richardson with a fairly clean slate in the 2019 market. He played in 16 games for the first time in four seasons, finishing with 4.5 sacks and partial responsibility for a run defense that ranked No. 8 in the NFL in yards per carry (4.1).

And of Barr, he noted:

Barr is an elite athlete who has shown bursts of dominance. But from a value standpoint, Barr plays a position — outside linebacker in a 4-3 — that rarely gets paid top-end money.

Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a first-round pick of the Vikings in 2014, was one of two quarterbacks and ranked No. 6 overall, along with Tyrod Taylor, who was ranked at No. 16. Seifert added a caveat outside of the top 50 regarding Nick Foles, whose contract involves a mutual option between the Super Bowl LII MVP and the Eagles for 2019.

Edge rushers (defensive ends in a 4-3/outside linebackers in a 3-4) were prominent in Seifert’s list, accounting for 10 of the top 50 spots and four of the top five.

Seifert’s top five were as follows:

1. DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, Dallas

2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh

3. Dee Ford, DE/LB, Kansas City

4. Jadeveon Clowney, DE/LB, Houston

5. Frank Clark, DE, Seattle

Hartman on the Gary Kubiak hire

The Vikings named Kevin Stefanski as the offensive coordinator on Jan. 9, removing the interim designation that the versatile longtime assistant held for the final three weeks of the 2018 season.

On Monday, Minnesota announced the hires of Gary Kubiak as assistant head coach/offensive advisor, Brian Pariani as tight ends coach and Klint Kubiak as quarterbacks coach.

Gary Kubiak is bringing 24 seasons of NFL coaching experience, including 10 as a head coach.

The Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman wrote about the elder Kubiak’s potential impact with the Vikings:

The thought has to be that Kubiak — an inventive offensive mind who has won four Super Bowls as a Broncos and 49ers assistant and as Broncos head coach in Super Bowl 50 — can coordinate the offense with Stefanski and let Zimmer continue to focus on defense.

In five years under Zimmer, the Vikings average ranking in points scored per game has been 18th out of 30 NFL teams, and their average finish in yards per game has been 23rd. In contrast during that time, the Vikings defense has ranked sixth in points allowed and seventh in yards allowed.

In Kubiak’s 22 years as an NFL head coach or offensive coordinator, his teams have finished in the league's top five in yards per game 11 times. The Vikings haven't finished in the top five since 2009, with Brett Favre at quarterback.

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