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Monday Morning Mailbag: A Starting Spot For Hunter?

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the mailbag. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

We all know the Xavier Rhodes is a shutdown corner, but which NFL cornerback was scored on the least and had the least amount of receiving yards allowed? -- Mike Weilage

According to this article from Pro Football Focus, which ranks the top 101 players from the 2016 season, Broncos CB Aqib Talib didn't allow a touchdown, surrendered only 351 receiving yards and never allowed a reception of greater than 26 yards this season. The same article also has impressive statistics on another Vikings CB – Terence Newman. According to PFF, Newman, ranked No. 76 on the list, allowed only 245 receiving yards and one touchdown this season.

With the release of Brandon Fusco and Mike Harris, what are the odds that we sign guard Kevin Zeitler from Cincinnati in free agency? -- David M. Marshall, MN

As fun as it is to speculate on free agency, the one thing to remember before doing so is that Cincinnati has the best chance to sign Zeitler because he is under contract with them until March 9. That is the case for all upcoming free agents. As badly as one team wants a particular player, if that player and his current team reach agreement on a new contract, then it doesn't matter. Also, I know that Vikings fans like to speculate a lot on former Bengals players because of Zimmer's history there. But keep in mind there are other head coaches in the League with Cincinnati ties whose teams could also be linked in that same way. Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson and Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden both were assistants in Cincinnati, for example, so it makes as much sense to link Bengals players to those teams as it does to the Vikings. The bottom line is, as hard as it is to do, we just have to wait and see on free agency because a lot can happen between now and March 9.

We have a very good coach in Mike Zimmer, a good quarterback in Sam Bradford, a top five defensive unit. We will let Rick Spielman work in the offseason and bring the Lombardi Trophy home in 2018. What do you say? Skol Vikes! -- Non Bangkok, Thailand

I say I'm on board with that plan. You're correct that several key pieces are already in place – namely the head coach and quarterback. But you are also correct that there is still work to be done. It may be the offseason, but that doesn't mean there will be a lack of action on the part of the Vikings.

What do you think is the number one thing the Vikings need to improve on this offseason besides the offensive line? Will we need any help on defense? -- Caden Oatey

I wouldn't neglect any part of the team this offseason. Many people would consider the defensive line one of this team's strengths, but I can very easily make the case to add at least one other defensive tackle this offseason. Kyle Rudolph is coming off a career season, but I can similarly make a case to add another tight end this offseason. So, yes, the defense can use some help this offseason. As for another top priority aside from the offensive line, I'd point to the running game in general. Having a more effective ground game will only make it easier for Bradford and the pass catchers to generate more explosive plays through the air.

I feel like not enough people are talking about Danielle Hunter. If he can get a starting job, he can really boost our pass rush, don't you think? -- Bridget Baer

Hunter has already boosted the Vikings pass rush. The Vikings have brought him along very well during his first two years and I think a big reason it's gone so well is they haven't forced more playing time upon him than he was ready for. Having Brian Robison on the roster gave the Vikings the luxury to develop Hunter the right way. I agree with what Bridget is insinuating, though – that it appears Hunter may be poised for a starting role in 2017. At the end of the day, though, we should be less concerned about who is labeled as the starter and who is being talked about the most and we should be more concerned with what it takes to get the job done. So far, Zimmer and his defensive staff have parsed out playing time between Hunter and Robison perfectly and I look forward to a new balance being reached in 2017 with both of them on-hand.

Being fairly new to the NFL, I was wondering how the offseason works and how it will help us win the Super Bowl next year? I'm counting down the days until the Vikings rock London. -- Gemma Apps

A big part of the offseason is player acquisition via free agency and the draft. In looking at this year's Super Bowl teams – Atlanta and New England – you will see many examples of how they acquired players in free agency (Patriots – WR Chris Hogan, Falcons – WR Mohammad Sanu) and the draft (Falcons – Dion Jones and Keanu Neal). Just as significant a part of the offseason, though, is player development. Teams who are able to foster long-term success are good at developing their own players over time so they don't have to rely on expensive free agents and young draft picks. Atlanta with pass rusher Vic Beasley and the Patriots with RB James White both were well-served this season with players they were able to develop last offseason. You'll find that the offseason may move at a slower pace compared to the regular season but it still is jam-packed with action and events

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