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Monday Morning Mailbag: Fortifying An Already Elite Team

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. 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.

I am beyond excited at the move to bring Kirk Cousins in to lead our team. What are your initial thoughts on the move? From his press conference it appears that he will fit right in to the character of this team. What a well-spoken and professional first impression he just showed us. Skol! -- Jerry Provost

What excites me most about the Cousins signing is I think the 2018 Vikings roster will be the best team on which Cousins has ever been. Think about that. Cousins has had very productive seasons in his career – he's on a run of three consecutive 4,000-yard seasons and he's averaged 27 touchdown passes per season in that stretch. He's now in position to do what the previous three season's worth of starting quarterbacks for the Vikings (Teddy Bridgewater – 2015; Sam Bradford – 2016; Case Keenum – 2017) have done, which is have a career season when playing within the current Vikings system. If the 2018 season is the best of Cousins' career, the Vikings will be a very hard team to beat.

I just watched a highlight tape of (Sheldon) Richardson. Three things stood out about him: his ability to create turnovers, his speed and his strength. What else have you noticed about him? -- Gary Gross @LFRGary

I will always remember it was Richardson who nearly ran down Jarius Wright from behind on the game-winning screen pass Teddy Bridgewater threw to Wright in overtime against the New York Jets in 2014. I loved seeing that hustle from him. It's not often you see a defensive lineman 40 yards downfield coming up a shoelace shy of tracking down and tripping up a wide receiver. I've also always noticed his ability to penetrate the offensive backfield and disrupt the design of the play. It doesn't always result in him making a tackle and being credited with a statistic, but so often he's using a great burst to get past a blocker and into the backfield to cause the play to be disrupted.

We are locked and loaded. How much better can we get? First Kirk Cousins, then Sheldon Richardson. What will be next? I think we will draft offensive line and depth. It will be interesting to see who we find in the draft this year! It is a good time to be a Viking fan -- Gerald Goblirsch

Mike Zimmer has said this offseason there are several areas where the team can get better, so let's not have a "mission accomplished" vibe after a couple really good free agent signings. But you're right – it's a good time to be rooting for the Vikings. The team is coming off an exceptional 2017 season and they are doing anything but standing pat and expecting it to happen again. They've upgraded at key spots and they are still in position to retain core members of the team who are approaching free agency in the next couple offseasons. Plus, the draft is around the corner and that is where GM Rick Spielman does some of his best work.

I like the Sheldon Richardson signing but why for only one year? -- Chris Kulak

One-year deals can be good for both the team and the player. In this arrangement, Richardson is motivated to have the best 2018 he can have so that his stock increases for next offseason in case he hits the market again. That is also good for the Vikings because they have a higher probability of getting the best version of Richardson. If the Vikings like what they see during the season, they have the opportunity to extend Richardson's contract before he becomes a free agent. If they don't like what they see or if Richardson wants to move on, that option is there for both sides because it was a one-year deal.

Assuming Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and Jerick McKinnon all have good-to-great seasons in 2018, can the Vikings look forward to high compensatory draft choices next year? Possibly even as high as a 2nd-rounder? -- Joe Warner

Compensatory selections begin at the end of the 3rd round, so there will be no 2nd-rounders awarded to the Vikings. But yes, those four players will count in favor of the Vikings in the compensatory formula in 2019. But remember, signings like Cousins and Richardson count against the Vikings. You are only awarded compensatory picks if you lose more valuable free agents than you sign.

With us landing a big-name quarterback and the run game potentially locked down, are there any talks of us going for another receiver in free agency? Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are tops in my book, but behind them we really don't have anyone to feel confident in to step up. -- Nathan Riggs

It wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings sign a receiver at some point before the offseason program begins and I would say the same about the prospects of drafting a receiver. Another part of roster building that's important, though, is player development. Stacy Coley, Cayleb Jones and Laquon Treadwell are young receivers on the roster who now have a chance to take a step forward and prove they deserve to get a shot. The development has been slower than hoped for Treadwell, but he has an opportunity once again this offseason to take that big jump. Coley is entering his second season in the League and Jones is coming off a year on the practice squad with the Vikings, so they are both players to watch during the offseason program this spring.

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