The countdown is on for free agency, as the frenzy is set to open up March 18 when the new league year officially begins.
There is also a legal tampering period that kicks off March 16, meaning we're 10 days away from a flurry of news and roster moves from NFL teams.
With that in mind, NFL.com writer Grant Gordon took a look at the top three free-agency needs for each NFC squad. Gordon opined that Minnesota has two defensive areas of need — cornerback and pass rusher — and that the Vikings could also use help on the interior of their offensive line.
Thanks to the outstanding play of safeties Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris (a free agent that the Vikings should prioritize bringing back), the Vikings were one of the best cover teams (graded third best in coverage by Pro Football Focus) despite having some of the worst cover corners.
Gordon noted that PFF graded Trae Waynes 62nd in coverage among cornerbacks with 300-plus snaps and fellow pending free agent Mackensie Alexander landed at 57th. Xavier Rhodes, who is under contract for 2020, was ranked 112th.
Harris could be re-signed to play alongside a fresh-faced cornerback crop. Up front on defense, Everson Griffen is half of a heckuva potent pass-rushing tandem with Danielle Hunter — and also a free agent after opting out of his contract. Coach Mike Zimmer has voiced his desire to have Griffen back, and re-signing him would be a wise move. The offensive line needs progress from second-year center Garrett Bradbury, who struggled as a rookie, and likely some fresh blood at the guard spots.
The Vikings are currently slated to have 19 players hit free agency as either unrestricted or restricted free agents.
Minnesota's defense could be in the spotlight in free agency, as four starters — Alexander, Griffen, Harris and Waynes — are set to have their contracts expire at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 18.
Vikings host WISE Power Play event
In honor of Women's History Month and International Women's Day (March 8), the Vikings on Thursday hosted more than 120 women from WISE (Women in Sports and Events) Twin Cities for a special event at TCO Performance Center.
WISE Power Play is an annual event held by regional chapters across the nation during March, during which a panel of women is featured from one organization or specific career field within sports and events. Since its launch, WISE Twin Cities has presented panels of women around the NCAA Final Four, the X Games and the Minnesota Twins.
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Thursday's Vikings-centric event featured Heather Lang, Vice President of Marketing at Twin Cities Orthopedics and Revo Health, and five Vikings employees who shared personal experiences and career journeys: Tanya Dreesen, VP of Partnership Activation & Special Projects; Kate Shibilski, VP of Finance & Controller; Katie Bernhjelm, Director of Partnership Activation; Kaitlin Zarecki, Executive Assistant to the General Manager; and Amanda DeKanick, Assistant Athletic Trainer. The panel was moderated by Tami Hedrick, Director of Women's Initiatives and Strategic Development.
Vikings Chief Operating Officer Andrew Miller opened the evening with a brief message to the attendees, during which he shared his passion for gender equity and changing the trend of male-dominated leadership within the NFL.
"We're creating an organization that is inclusive and values diversity, and it's important for a number of reasons," said Miller, who cited two different studies from a _New York Times _article that demonstrated the lack of women working in the league.
Miller expressed appreciation for all within the Vikings organization and spoke highly of the evening's panel participants.
"They're incredibly talented, and they add a very different perspective, and that's what we're trying to do," Miller said. "We're trying to take the best ideas – regardless of race, or gender, or age, or function – and use those to become a successful, championship organization. And for that, we need people of all backgrounds to be successful."
Vikings Women hosted WISE Power Play Panel, at TCO Performance Center in recognition of International Women's Day.