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Due to the upcoming free agency of Larry Fitzgerald, do you think it's possible the Vikings will pick him up because of past connections? -- Cody C.
Fitzgerald is under contract to the Arizona Cardinals for 2015 and therefore is not scheduled to become a free agent this March. A recent report from FOX Sports Arizona, though, suggests that Fitzgerald's large cap number for next year along with displeasure in his role within the offense could lead to the two sides splitting up in the coming months. If Fitzgerald does indeed become available, it's possible a return to his home state to play for the Vikings is in the cards. But the reason for the Vikings-Fitzgerald union would not be past connections (he was a ball boy for the Vikings as a youth). It would be based on how the Vikings feel Fitzgerald could help the team moving forward and Fitzgerald's desire to play in Minnesota. We've already gotten too far ahead of ourselves on this topic, but you can't blame Vikings fans for anticipating this storyline given the connection between Fitzgerald and the Vikings.
The Vikings won six games without their best player this past season. The fact that this team should've been .500 (Miami) and arguably above .500 (Buffalo) should keep Vikings fans extremely happy throughout the offseason. Given only what we know right now about how the team will look next year (Adrian Peterson's status up in the air, free agency, draft, etc.), does this team challenge for the division title next season? It is a large mountain to gain another 3-4 wins in one year. -- Alex Z.
There is no question in my mind the Vikings will compete for the NFC North title next season. I agree with Alex that they weren't far off this season, despite the 1-5 division record suggesting otherwise. The Vikings have an answer at quarterback with Teddy Bridgewater and his development will accelerate even more if the Vikings can find a way to generate an explosive rushing attack. Defensively, Mike Zimmer found a way to make massive improvements in his first season at the helm and he'll likely make more improvements in Year 2. All of that leads me to believe the Vikings will be a division contender in 2015.
Knowing we have the 11th overall pick in the draft, what position should we use it on? What do you put as most important? -- Matti L. Hopkins, MN
At this point in the offseason it's difficult to have a strong opinion about that because many of the factors that dictate which position will be addressed are still unknown. Will Chad Greenway be back? Do the Vikings plan to sign a big-time receiver or a middle linebacker in free agency? The answers to those questions and several others will come in March and they will help determine what the Vikings do in May's draft. Also, we don't know all the players who will be eligible in this year's draft. Each year there are 50-100 underclassmen who declare early and without knowing which of them will come out it's hard to know which players the Vikings should target. I don't mean to sidestep the question or give a non-answer, but there really is no way to know right now which direction the Vikings should or will go.
With all of that being said, four positions to keep an eye on as the offseason begins are defensive end, cornerback, linebacker and wide receiver.
Cordarrelle Patterson did not live up to any expectations this season, as a wide receiver or a kick returner. How will the Vikings address this through work in the offseason? -- Tom W. Dallas, TX
Aside from his Week 1 performance, the 2014 season was one that fell short of expectations for Patterson, there's no denying that. The good news is Patterson is still a young player and it's clear the organization remains committed to the young and dynamic playmaker. Zimmer has said he has a plan for Patterson this offseason and he also made it clear that Patterson himself bears responsibility this offseason to make strides. Here's another facet to this situation that should yield some optimism: this will be the first offseason for Patterson in which he'll be working in the same offense as the season prior. He's gone through three different offenses in as many seasons, and now he'll be able to take experiences from this past season and apply them to his preparation for the upcoming season. That will help Patterson quite a bit heading into 2015.
If Chad Greenway isn't here next season, any chance we have his potential replacement in Gerald Hodges or Audie Cole? -- Paul S.
Greenway's shoes are big ones to fill, if indeed the Vikings are forced to replace him this offseason. He led the Vikings in tackles for six straight seasons from 2008-13 and finished second this season, just five behind tackling champion Harrison Smith despite missing four games. Cole and/or Hodges could be trained in Greenway's spot should the Vikings be forced to move on without him. Hodges started in Greenway's place early in the season, joining Anthony Barr and Jasper Brinkley in the lineup. In Week 17, though, with Hodges already starting in place of Barr, it was Cole who got the start. Cole and Hodges will compete for a starting spot this offseason and into training camp, but don't be surprised if the Vikings add other bodies in free agency and the draft to beef up the depth and talent at linebacker.
Last Sunday's game was the best game I have seen all season. The defense and offense played with heart and composure and had on-field leadership and team mentality. When I saw Coach Zimmer talk about Xavier Rhodes in the after-game presser and saw him take a minute to collect himself when he discussed Xavier's appreciation of help getting better, I realized we have a good coach. All of the above, with some additions and subtractions, will mold this into a team with the ability, coaching, team mentality and heart to win. Good feeling for a long-time Vikings fan. Go Vikes! -- Don L. Lanesboro, MN That Bridgewater and Rhodes both sought Zimmer after the season finale – Bridgewater to give Zimmer a game ball and congratulate him on his first division win and Rhodes to thank his coach for helping him improve – tells you how this team feels about its head coach. I share in Don's optimism about the direction of the Vikings, and I know much of the fan base does, as well. This is an important offseason for the franchise as it looks to use the momentum and optimism generated from Zimmer's first season at the helm to build a team that can compete consistently for many seas