Monday Morning Mailbag: Best Position for O'Neill, Free Agents To Be On Defense, More

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Would you prefer to move Brian O’Neill to the left side or keep him at right tackle? I’ve seen a lot of talk about moving Riley Reiff to guard and possibly O’Neill to left tackle. Two changes on the same side feels risky. I feel like if we move Reiff inside then we’d likely draft a left tackle in the 1st round.
-- Brian Spadafora

Intricate knowledge of the blocking scheme and a solid understanding of players’ traits are required in order to be able to intelligently answer that question. Is O’Neill the perfect type of right tackle for the Vikings blocking scheme? Or is he more suited to play left tackle in this system? Yours truly doesn’t possess the information to answer those questions with certainty, but we can still assess the possibilities and run through scenarios. The key to this is Reiff’s position flexibility. The fact that he’s played both left and right tackle as well as the idea that could slide inside to guard gives the Vikings the ability to remain flexible in the draft when it comes to picking offensive linemen. If a left guard is the top-rated player, then the Vikings can select him and decide which sides O’Neill and Reiff will play. If a left tackle is the best player available, then the Vikings can take him and decide what to do with Reiff and O’Neill.

I would like to know your thoughts on who we will re-sign between Anthony Barr and Sheldon Richardson, knowing it will be hard on our salary cap to keep both.
-- Gage Sanden

I know we want to know whether these players will be back or not, but there’s just no way to know right now. It’s too early. Obviously, the Vikings would love to have both players back because they’ve been productive and the team has invested in each of them. It’s safe to assume the salary cap is a significant factor for the Vikings this offseason when it comes to re-signing and signing players. The team has done a great job of locking up its young core of players. This gives the roster a solid foundation but it’s also expensive. What we can be sure about, based on the history of GM Rick Spielman and Executive VP of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski, is the Vikings won’t re-sign a player if doing so will compromise their salary cap position. As aggressive as the Vikings are at re-signing players who fit their mold, they are equally as prudent when it comes to maintaining salary cap integrity and equally as effective at replacing talent with draft picks.

What do you think of acquiring proven talent on the offensive line with ties to the new coaches (Gary Kubiak, Rick Dennison)? Is it worth sacrificing one of our cornerbacks because we have depth there? If we did this, would we still address the offensive line in the draft?
-- Matt M.
Westfield, MA

The idea of using depth at one position to increase the talent level at another position is a good one. It’s something teams are always looking to do near the end of August when training camps are winding down and the roster cutdown deadline looms. As on board as I am with adding more talented players to the offensive line (especially players who’ve already demonstrated they’re a fit in the blocking scheme), I do pause at the thought of compromising depth at cornerback. It’s such an important position in this League and the Vikings have dealt with injuries at this position the last couple of seasons. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do it if the right deal came along, but it would have to be a great deal in order to do it.

Do you think the Vikings have any interest in going after Demaryius Thomas? Gary Kubiak knew how to use him!
-- Patrick Crouse
@BigCountryBMX

With the Houston Texans releasing Thomas, his status does bear monitoring because he’s a proven veteran producer at a position the Vikings may be looking to address AND he has familiarity with some of the Vikings offensive coaches (he played for Gary Kubiak in Denver). However, his status also bears monitoring because he’s trying to comeback from an Achilles injury.

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