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Lunchbreak: The Athletic Breaks Down NFC North Ahead of Free Agency

The NFL canceled its Annual League Meeting due to concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak, but the new league year is still slated to open on March 18, which means free agency is just around the corner.

With that in mind, The Athletic asked its NFC North beat writers to "analyze their teams and offer predictions ahead of the opening of the legal tampering window on Monday."

Arif Hasan took a look at the Vikings roster and listed the team's five "key free agents" as safety Anthony Harris, defensive end Everson Griffen, cornerback Trae Waynes, slot cornerback Mackensie Alexander and kicker Dan Bailey.

Hasan put together his personal "wish list" for Minnesota in free agency:

If the Vikings cannot re-sign Harris, a swing in free agency for an offensive lineman or a cornerback — whether that's a cornerback from outside the organization or one of their own — would be ideal. The most incredible outcome, given their cap issues, would be finding a way to bring in Joe Thuney and Byron Jones together in one fell swoop. After that, they should round out their depth with an athletic special teams linebacker — perhaps along the lines of Kevin Pierre-Louis — safety (re-signing Andrew Sendejo is viable here), competition at three-technique — like Roy Robertson-Harris — and other positions.

Hasan predicted that the Vikings bring back Griffen and "at least one of their cornerbacks" in addition to making "most boring (but necessary) depth signings."

And for Green Bay, arguably Minnesota's biggest division rival?

The Athletic's Matt Schneidman tabbed tackles Bryan Bulaga and Jared Veldheer, linebacker Blake Martinez, cornerback Tramon Williams and receiver Geronimo Allison as the Packers five key free agents.

Schneidman opined that Green Bay will not re-sign Martinez or Bulaga, calling them "two huge holes to fill."

They need to re-sign Veldheer, who filled in admirably for Bulaga at right tackle in 2019, and search for a starting inside linebacker from an external source.


Look for the Packers to try and upgrade their receiving corps in free agency, whether that be by signing a tight end, wide receiver or both, since Aaron Rodgers needs more weapons than he had at his disposal last season.

To read The Athletic's breakdown of the NFC North in its entirety, click here.

CBS Sports poses potential targets for Vikings in free agency, NFL Draft

Bryan DeArdo of CBS Sports went team-by-team, pointed out each club's biggest needs and then opined which players – either free agents or draft prospects – could be targets for them in the coming weeks.

DeArdo didn't hold back when listing needs for teams, including every position that could be added as an immediate contributor or for depth. For Minnesota, he listed cornerback, left tackle, defensive end, guard, strong safety, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, cornerback, receiver and quarterback.

Worth noting is that starting quarterback Kirk Cousins is under contract for the 2020 season, but backup Sean Mannion is slated to hit free agency.

DeArdo listed "free agent fits" as cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, tackle Cedric Ogbuehi or defensive end Shaq Lawson. For draft prospects that could benefit Minnesota, he listed defensive lineman Ross Blacklock (TCU), offensive lineman Josh Jones (Houston) and cornerback C.J. Henderson (Florida).

DeArdo wrote:

The Vikings were fifth in the NFL in points allowed last season, but they will still likely focus on strengthening their defense this offseason after they finished a pedestrian 15thin the league in pass defense and 19thin third-down efficiency. While their salary cap is tight, the Vikings have options in free agency. Along with the free agents alluded to above, a project the Vikings could think about taking on is Saints safety Vonn Bell. A former first round pick, Bell enjoyed his best season to date in 2019, tying a career high with 89 tackles while recording one of his five fumble recoveries for a touchdown.

Minnesota will also benefit from a deep cornerback class in this year's draft. That depth gives them the option to address their need at guard in the first round. One option may be Jones, CBS Sports' 28th-ranked prospect in the 2020 draft.

Chad Greenway kicks off campaign to support local mothers

Chad Greenway no longer laces up his cleats for the Vikings on game day, but he's still doing plenty for the Minnesota community.

The former linebacker continues to be active with his Lead the Way Foundation, and recently he kicked off the 52 for 52 Campaign "in celebration of local mothers and all they do." Between now and Mothers' Day, individuals can make a $52 donation (in honor of Greenway's jersey number) to sponsor the mother of a medically in-need child to attend the 2020 TendHer Heart program.

TendHer Heart is an annual program that Chad and his wife, Jenni, put on to support mothers of children facing significant medical challenges.

If you would like to donate, click here.