When the Vikings signed offensive guard Josh Kline on March 20, the initial frenzy of free agency was already over.
Most of the league’s biggest names had inked new deals a week earlier when free agency opened, and while there was some notable attention given to Kline’s signing, it wasn’t overblown by any means.
But don’t underestimate the impact that Kline could have in Minnesota, as Dan Parr of NFL.com recently wrote that the offensive guard could be the biggest ‘sleeper addition’ in the NFC North.
This isn't a suggestion that Kline … is set for a breakout year at 29 years old after the lowest-graded season of his career, per PFF. It is, however, an acknowledgement of how consequential he could be to the Vikings in 2019. The offensive line was a disaster for Minnesota last season, and thus far, Kline has been the only addition to the group. That figures to change come the draft, but Kline is penciled in as the starter at right guard, and he has to be at least functional for his new team if Minnesota doesn't want to relive the nightmares from its disappointing 2018 campaign. He's made 46 consecutive starts at right guard, which is the longest active streak among NFL guards, and the Vikes are going to need the consistency – along with solid play – up front that they sorely lacked.
An undrafted free agent out of Kent State, Kline is an Ohio native who spent part of the 2013 season on New England’s practice squad before being activated to the 53-man roster for good in November.
He made 18 starts and appeared in 33 total games with the Patriots from 2013-2015, and he dressed but did not appear in Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle after the 2014 season.
Kline then landed in Tennessee, where he helped the Titans rank in the top half of the league in rushing — and finish in the top 10 twice — in the three seasons that Kline started.
Kline, who has appeared in 79 career games in six seasons and has made 64 starts, told the Twin Cities media last month that he felt right at home on his visit to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
“What drew me there the most was the family-first culture that Coach [Mike] Zimmer and Rick Spielman gave me as soon as I walked in the building,” Kline said. “Everyone … all the coaching staff around there … and from the training staff and the equipment staff … everyone in the building was just super nice.
“They were super welcoming and had that Midwest feel I’m accustomed to since I’m an Ohio boy,” Kline added.
ESPN has Vikings 15th in Power Rankings
There are still five months to go until the 100th NFL season kicks off.
But there is always time for power rankings, and ESPN recently unveiled its latest list of projections on where their experts believe teams stand across the league.
The Vikings, who are coming off an 8-7-1 season in 2018, were ranked 15th on the list.
Financial restrictions pertaining to the salary cap made things difficult for the Vikings in free agency. Minnesota wasn't nearly as active as it wanted to be, especially in replacing all the parts that departed along the offensive line, and was forced to make either/or decisions with the personnel it retained and let go. Defense was prioritized, with the Vikings ponying up the funds to retain linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive end Everson Griffen, which means adding pieces around quarterback Kirk Cousins will have to come via the draft.
Chicago was ranked sixth and Green Bay was at No. 15, while Detroit was 23rd.