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I have faith in Rick and Zim to do the right thing at the quarterback position for next season. I would like to know what round compensatory draft pick we would receive for each of our quarterbacks IF we lose any or all of them. Also, could receiving a high-round compensatory draft pick be a factor in their decision? -- Ron Ellis Lyle, MN
I have confidence in them, too. If you include Rob Brzezinski, who is in charge of the team's salary cap, the Vikings have a calculated and experienced front office that consistently fields a talented roster while also maintaining salary cap flexibility and health. The Vikings, under Brzezinski and Spielman, have demonstrated outstanding salary cap discipline and management over the years and that should put everyone in Vikings Nation at ease about the entire process and the aftermath that will follow whatever decision is made. As for the compensatory pick question, we wouldn't know until after the season what round pick(s) we would get in return. The compensatory pick allocation is based on contract value and performance on the field. It's also based on the number of free agents a team sings versus the number it loses. And yes, receiving compensatory picks can be a factor for teams when they are considering re-signing or not re-signing players.
Even if Kirk Cousins is the better player, what would giving him that much cap space take away from the other free agency decisions looming? -- Jacob Steinbauer Minneapolis, MN
There's no way around the fact that spending a lot of money on one player takes away from how much money you can spend on other parts of the roster. If there's any position for which it's worth stretching the limits, it's quarterback. With that being said, my sense is the Vikings won't do anything outrageous from a financial standpoint. Head coach Mike Zimmer pointed out last week at the Combine that the Vikings won 40 games over the last four years because they have a good TEAM, plus we know that Brzezinski and Spielman understand the importance of salary cap discipline and planning; Spielman said on Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen's radio show last week that the Vikings have been cap planning for this offseason for a couple years. This isn't to say the Vikings won't make a splash at the right time, it's just saying the Vikings won't do something to satisfy a need right now if it will put them in cap jeopardy down the road.
The Saints got a lot of media play on their draft last year, and rightfully so. Four starters and two rookies of the year. I don't think the Vikings draft gets enough credit simply because we haven't seen enough of our top picks. Help make my case, Mike. What players from the 2017 draft, including Dalvin Cook, do you see taking significant steps forward next year? -- Jeff Kilty Sacramento, CA
Pat Elflein was a tremendous find for the Vikings and it appears he'll be an anchor in the middle of the offensive line for many years. He would've been a great pick in the 1st round let alone the 3rd round. Ben Gedeon played a part-time role on defense and a significant role on special teams, but I still think he's a candidate to step up his game and be even more productive in 2018. Outside of those two plus Cook, I'd point to Stacy Coley, Danny Isidora and Jaleel Johnson. Can Isidora factor into the competition for playing time at offensive guard? Can Coley and Johnson earn their way into the rotation at their respective positions? If any of those three can answer yes to those questions, the Vikings 2017 draft class will look even better.
After we lost Shamar Stephen in the New Orleans game, our defense started giving up a lot of yards. I really believe we need three guys to rotate at his position. What are your thoughts on this and how have the defensive tackles at the Combine looked? Any in particular that you think could fill this role and eventually fill the shoes of Linval? -- Patrick Flach Altamont, IL
I agree that a rotation of at least three is needed at defensive tackle. Ideally, you'd have a starter and productive backup at each defensive tackle spot active each week. This is a key spot for the Vikings in the offseason because both Tom Johnson and Stephen are scheduled to be free agents on March 14, plus it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Vikings be aggresse in adding a new three technique to the mix. Joseph is just such a dominant player in the Vikings scheme that is seems silly to even think a player in a draft class can one day fill his shoes, but it doesn't hurt to keep an eye open for that type of player.
Towards the end of last season the pass rush seemed to taper off, especially in the postseason. Do you think other than the obvious need at tackle the Vikings will try to get another pass rusher? -- Brian Boniecki
Rushing the passer is so important for defenses that it's hard to imagine the Vikings not addressing it at some point, even if it's in the second wave of free agency and/or the late stages of the draft. There are ways to enhance your pass rush beyond adding personnel, though. There are subtleties with the stunts and games that can be improved and I'm sure coach Zimmer will look at tweaks to the schemes and play calls to help enhance the pass rush.