The 2019 offseason is in full swing for the Vikings, who have turned the page on a disappointing 2018 season and are now looking forward.
Minnesota will have two main opportunities to improve its roster, including the 2019 NFL Draft in late April. But the first chance will come in a month when free agency opens.
Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune recently looked into some offensive linemen whom the Vikings could consider, as that position has been a hot topic for media members and analysts after the unit had an up-and-down season in 2018.
Improvements to the Vikings offensive line will be first attempted when free agency opens March 13. The best typically don’t become available, but there are more than a handful of players set to become unrestricted free agents who could intrigue the Vikings.
Nothing may be excluded in the overhaul, where guards Nick Easton and Tom Compton are free agents. Guard Mike Remmers is coming off a down season with an expendable contract. They could be in the market for a tackle or at least tackle depth.
Krammer listed a center, five guards and four tackles that the Vikings could be interested in.
He included center Matt Paradis, who has spent time with Denver. The guards listed were Roger Saffold of the Rams, Pittsburgh’s Ramon Foster, Quinton Spain of the Titans, James Carpenter of the Jets and Buffalo’s John Miller.
New England’s Trent Brown, Buffalo’s Jordan Mills, Ty Sambraillo of the Falcons and Washington’s Ty Nsekhe were the tackles Krammer mentioned.
Krammer wrote that Paradis has ties to a coach the Vikings recently hired.
Paradis, 29, is recovering from a fractured fibula in November, but he was one of the NFL’s best centers last season before his injury. Gary Kubiak knows him well. Paradis started 35 games in 2015-16 while Kubiak was the Broncos head coach, including all 19 games during Denver’s Super Bowl season.
Keep in mind center Pat Elflein was a standout right guard at Ohio State, where he was a two-time All-Big Ten selection before becoming the nation’s top center as a senior.
Carpenter is a veteran with plenty of playoff experience.
Carpenter, who turns 30 in March, has started 102 games, including both of Seattle’s recent Super Bowls. More noteworthy is he started 10 games at left guard last year for the New York Jets and offensive line coach Rick Dennison, who was recently hired to the same post in Minnesota. He is coming off a shoulder injury that prematurely ended his season, but could bring veteran competition.
Nsekhe played with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in Washington.
Nsekhe, 33, has been a standout replacement for Washington, including 11 spot starts in front of Kirk Cousins. He’s versatile, proving so again last season with starts at left tackle and left guard.
Vikings slotted 17th in future power rankings
Every general manager around the NFL is constantly looking to improve his roster, and not just for the upcoming season.
Those who make personnel decisions are always looking multiple years ahead, a philosophy Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman is fond of.
How do the Vikings look over the next few years?
Adam Stites of SB Nation recently released his future power rankings, which take a look at where teams stand in 2020 and beyond. He had Minnesota ranked 17th in his piece.
Stites wrote that the Vikings will need to be better with Cousins to move up in his rankings.
[Cousins] wasn’t bad in 2018, but he definitely wasn’t a player worth $28 million per year fully guaranteed. But it’s too late now — the Vikings are stuck with him and desperately need to make the most of that by finding offensive line help. That’ll be tough with a draft pick in the back half of the first round and a cap situation that will likely cause Anthony Barr to leave in free agency.
Minnesota is 47-32-1 under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer over the past five years and has won a pair of NFC North titles in that span.
The Vikings rank sixth in the NFL with 47 wins over the past five years behind New England, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Dallas.