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What kind of impact will Linval Joseph have for us? Having not watched many NY Giants games, I don't know what kind of player he is. Fill us in please! -- Jesse M. Bismarck, ND
I see Joseph having a significant impact on the Vikings defense, against both the run and the pass. At 6-4, 323 pounds, it's easy to pigeon-hole him as a massive, space-eating, run-stuffing defensive tackle. He is that, but he's also athletic and explosive enough to be a force against the pass, too; he's had 7.0 sacks the past two seasons for the Giants. This means that the Vikings will get their money's worth out of Joseph because they can play him on all three downs. Another trait of Joseph's that will help the Vikings is durability – he's missed just two games the past three seasons. Lastly, Joseph knows what it takes to win. He was a starter for the Giants when they defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
After seeing the current deals for proven defensive ends…have we over-spent on Everson Griffen? -- Steve G. United Kingdom
Only time will tell what kind of value the Vikings will realize in the Griffen deal. While on one hand it may seem like a lot of money to give a player with just one start, let's also keep in mind that wise teams pay players for what they can do in the future, not what they've done in the past. When you look at Griffen's profile, he's a 26 year old defensive end who is entering the prime of his career and found a way to collect 17.5 sacks over his first four seasons despite playing behind Jared Allen and Brian Robison. He was a fourth-round pick of the Vikings in 2010, and the organization has spent a lot of effort and time developing him and turning him into one of the better defensive ends who was scheduled to go on the market. In addition, Griffen was set to enter the market in prime position because the top players were all signing lucrative deals elsewhere, which is what set the market for Griffen's deal.
I think it's a good signing for the Vikings and I'm anxious to see how he performs in a starting role and in Mike Zimmer's scheme.
Does the re-signing of Matt Cassel mean we are out of the hunt for a quarterback in the draft? -- Angel C. Aurora, IL
No, the re-signing of Cassel does not necessarily mean the Vikings are out of the mix for a quarterback in the draft. It does, however, give the Vikings some flexibility as to when they do take a quarterback because now they don't need the quarterback they select (if they select one) to be a guy who can start immediately. They may still take a quarterback early enough where that guy ends up being the starter, but they aren't forced into that situation now with Cassel in the fold.
I totally dig the signings of cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Derek Cox. The Vikings seem to be really smart in free agency this year. Keep it up! Any comments? -- Austin M.
In 2013, the Vikings ranked 32nd in passing touchdowns allowed, 31st in passing yards allowed and 30th in passer rating allowed. Zimmer has mentioned several times in the last month or so that he realizes improvement needs to be made, and I think it's great that he and GM Rick Spielman have put together and executed an aggressive plan to make that improvement. My sense is the Vikings will be aggressive in the draft, as well, as they continue the effort to increase the talent level and, consequentially, the results of the defense.
Any word on Kevin Williams and him being re-signed? Or is he set on leaving? -- Ronald N.
Both Spielman and Williams have spoken publicly on this topic, and my sense is that there is good communication on both sides and both sides would like to work toward a re-union under the right circumstances. Spielman has said the team will continue to monitor the market and the situation with Williams. Given that he has spent his entire career with the Vikings and has a substantial place in team history, I am hopeful an agreement can be reached that will bring him back and have him finish his career with the Vikings, but there is no guarantee that will be the case. Stay tuned.
Do you think the signing of Jasper Brinkley means this coaching staff doesn't have confidence in Audie Cole? Or do you believe that Brinkley was signed to compete for the position and add depth? From what I saw of Cole's play last year it looked like he did a good job most of the time and can only get better with experience. -- Greg S.
I do not view the signing of Brinkley as any sort of indictment against Cole or any of the Vikings other inside linebackers. The inclusion of Brinkley does not mean the exclusion of anything or anyone, from current members of the team to potential draft picks. It only means Brinkley will have the opportunity to compete for a spot on the depth chart. Head Coach Mike Zimmer is known for taking a castoff or a player with questions marks from somewhere else and turning him into a productive player. He did it in Cincinnati with the likes of linebacker Vontaze Burfict, defensive tackle Tank Johnson and cornerbacks Pacman Jones and Terence Newman.