With the combine in the rearview window, free agency just around the corner and the NFL Draft fast approaching, the Vikings are in the process of determining which areas on the roster need to be addressed and the best approach to do so.
In an ongoing series, NFL.com's Matt Harmon has been taking a look at each team's status, position by position, heading into 2018. Most recently, he delved into cornerbacks across the league.
Harmon opined that the Vikings should "Stay the Course" at the position and aren't in any immediate need of an upgrade. He wrote:
[Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer's defense finished as the No. 1 unit in the NFL last season and was excellent at all three levels. The secondary has long been Zimmer's point of pride and is stocked full of successful draft picks courtesy of [General Manager] Rick Spielman. Xavier Rhodes is the headliner and enjoyed another strong season in 2017. He's more than capable of tracking top receivers around the field and has an argument to wear the crown of the best corner in the NFL. Opposing teams spent the early part of the year picking on Trae Waynes in the deep game, but the former first-round pick stabilized his play as the year went on. Waynes gave up a 55.9 percent completion rate when thrown at this year. The Vikings only decision to make in the offseason will come at their slot corner position. Minnesota could bring back Zimmer favorite Trae Waynes for his seemingly 100th NFL season, or they could elect to pass the torch to 2016 second-rounder Mackensie Alexander. The former Clemson defender was picked on at times in the postseason, and Newman has expressed interest in returning for another [run at the] Super Bowl.
And as far as the Vikings NFC North rivals?
Harmon placed the Packers and Lions in the "Upgrade" category, saying both teams could use some strengthening of their secondaries. He put the Bears in the "Plan for the Future" category, which they started on Tuesday when they placed the transition tag on cornerback Kyle Fuller.
Fellow 2017 starter Prince Amukamara is set to hit free agency for the third straight offseason after a solid campaign. The Bears have plenty of cap space to retain both, but will have to retool this position if they lose their services.
NFL 2018 salary cap increases $10 million from previous season
The NFL announced Monday that the salary cap for 2018 is once again increasing. Edward Lewis from NFL.com wrote the following:
The league will increase the cap's total from $167 million to $177.2 million for the 2018 season, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported, according to two team executives who were informed.
The raise is a nice one, but it didn't quite reach the $12 million jump teams were afforded when the cap increased from $155.27 million in 2016 to $167 million last season. The jump from 2017 to 2018, though, does mark the fifth straight year the cap has increased by at least $10 million over the previous year.
NFL.com calculated that the Vikings have more than $47 million in available cap space to roll over heading into the 2018 season, which is eighth-highest in the NFL. The three teams with the most available space are the Browns, Jets and Colts.
Super Bowl LII committee 'passes the ball' to Final Four
Minneapolis' hosting of Super Bowl LII was deemed a success, and next spring the area will have another chance at a national stage.
Rochelle Olson of the *Star Tribune *wrote about the handoff from the Super Bowl LII Host Committee to that of the Final Four. Olson wrote:
*The Super Bowl LII crew handed a basketball to the 2019 Final Four organizers during a ceremonial event Monday, hoping to transfer some of the NFL excitement to the next massive gig at U.S. Bank Stadium. *
Downtown workers on their lunch hour looked down from the skyway level in the atrium of the U.S. Bank Building as Gov. Mark Dayton received the ceremonial basketball from Final Four host committee CEO Kate Mortenson and expressed gratitude that he wasn't expected to jump for the ball or put it in a basket.
Olson quoted Dayton, who said, "The Final Four is a chance to show [that] this is what happens when you come to Minneapolis, Minnesota – you get the best."
*Minneapolis will host the annual NCAA men's basketball Final Four April 5-8, 2019. While it's the capstone weekend of March Madness, it's a significantly smaller event than the Super Bowl. *
*The influx of Super Bowl visitors is a topic of hot debate, but organizers put the figure above 100,000. More than 1 million people visited the Super Bowl Live event on Nicollet Mall, organizers said, but that number includes repeat visitors. *
Final Four weekends in other cities … have drawn some 60,000 visitors through their airports and another 60,000 have driven in from more than an hour away.
According to Olson, the Final Four will surpass Super Bowl LII in one area: seating capacity. While attendance at U.S. Bank Stadium for the NFL championship game was 67,612, Olson quoted Final Four spokesman Steve Mann, who said that the three games could draw "more than 7,000" apiece.
*Monday's lunch-hour handoff featured U.S. Bancorp Chairman Richard Davis, who was a Super Bowl chairman, and David Mortenson, chairman of Mortenson Construction and Kate Mortenson's husband, who is also a chairman for the basketball event. "We will be with you every step of the way," Davis pledged to Kate Mortenson. *