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Lunchbreak: Vikings Rank Among NFL's Most Improved Teams

Entering the 2018 offseason, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer each talked about the need to avoid being complacent and keep adding to Minnesota's roster. 

The Vikings were coming off a 13-3 season, a division title and an appearance in the NFC title game, but Spielman, Zimmer and the rest of Minnesota's front office weren't satisfied. 

So they went to work, adding quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency and trading for backup quarterback Trevor Siemian. The Vikings also added help in the trenches, signing defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and offensive lineman Tom Compton. Minnesota also re-signed kicker Kai Forbath earlier this week.

The moves impressed NFL.com writer Marc Sessler, who said the Vikings have been one of the most improved teams this offseason.

Sessler said while the Vikings haven't made a huge flurry of moves, the additions of Cousins and Richardson "serve as tangible upgrades for a club with Super Bowl expectations."

Sessler said Vikings fans should be excited about the new faces in the quarterback room. 

He wrote:

[The] *signing of Kirk Cousins gives Minnesota a rugged, long-term answer at the most important position on the field. Cousins brings genuine toughness to the role, toiling through punishment and performing courageously when the pocket crumbles. He's the perfect addition to an offense littered with playmakers. Adding Trevor Siemian as your backup checks out as another nice move for general manager Rick Spielman.*

The Vikings defense led the league in both yards allowed and points allowed in 2017, but brought in a key piece in Richardson, who is expected to start at defensive tackle next to Linval Joseph.

Sessler noted that Richardson earned a top-10 pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus last season and said he "gives Minnesota a juicy agent of chaos."

The Vikings were listed as the second-most improved team on Sessler's list. The Chicago Bears, one of Minnesota's NFC North rivals, topped the list. The Browns, Jets and Rams rounded out the top five.

Richardson rated as one of free agency's top value signings

Richardson was listed as one of the top 10 free agents available before the Vikings went out and snagged him in free agency.

Jared Dubin of CBS Sports thinks the pairing of Richardson and the Vikings will be a successful one, as he called the addition of the defensive tackle one of the best value signings in free agency.

Dubin wrote:

Richardson wasn't as dominant last season as he was early in his career with the Jets, but something tells me he will be just fine while playing on the same defensive line asLinval Joseph, Everson Griffen, and* anielle Hunter**, among others. Richardson should be able to rotate in and wreak havoc along the defensive front on the inside and out. Considering his "down year" in Seattle saw him finish seventh among defensive tackles in quarterback pressures despite being just 14th in pass-rushing snaps, per Pro Football Focus, that's quite a signing. *

Originally drafted by the Jets with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Richardson spent the past season with the Seahawks.

He has started 70 of 73 career games played in five seasons, including 15 with Seattle when he had 44 tackles (27 solo), a sack, one pass defensed, two fumble recoveries and his first career interception.

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