Purple Pain Forums Round Table: Assessing the Vikings Offeseason
The good folks over at Purple Pain Forums – a great spot for passionate Vikings fans – are back for yet another round table. This month’s iteration focuses in on some of the free agent moves, the upcoming draft, and what is going to happen with Danielle Hunter. As per usual, my answers are first; readers who are looking for the real insight ought to skip right over the initial answer and jump into what Forum Funky and Danchat have to offer. Enjoy!
1) Fill in the blank. Minnesota’s decision to prioritize Dalvin Tomlinson and Patrick Peterson was: __________. Explain.
Norm: Unexpected. I, like many Vikings fans, expected Zim and Spielman to finally prioritize the offensive line. I was a big David Andrews fan, and thought there was a reasonable chance Minnesota made a move for one of the high-end iOL options. I was very wrong. Instead, the Vikings now have a 1T who will play 3T and a once-elite corner. I’m not discouraged by this reality. I’m confident both players will improve our defense. I do fear, though, that Captain Kirk is going to be taking his fair share of sacks this season.
Forum Funky: I’ll say a little surprising. I went into free agency thinking we wouldn’t be able to do much of anything. Making a couple splash signings was refreshing. From what I can tell, most people are more excited about the Tomlinson signing than bringing in Peterson, but I feel optimistic about both. Anything to try to improve the DL and secondary, and I’m all in! Last year was painful, so fingers crossed these moves make a difference. I know there is hesitation about the Peterson signing, but I think we all realize that beggars cannot be choosers. Maybe the change of scenery helps. Look at Rhodes with Minnesota the last couple of seasons, and look at Rhodes with Indianapolis. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Danchat: Fine. I like Tomlinson more since he’s in the prime of his career and is a massive upgrade from Stephen/Johnson. I would have preferred a DT who was better at rushing the passer, but there weren’t many options out there. The Peterson signing was a subpar one – I’ve lost faith in Zimmer’s abilities to coach up CBs, and Peterson is on the decline. Sure, we needed to add a veteran to help the young’uns, but if Peterson plays like he did in 2020, he’s not going to help this defense. I would have wanted to spend that $8-10M on the trenches.
2) If you were in charge of the Vikings, who is one free agent who is still available who you’d prioritize signing?
Norm: I love both of their answers. Patterson and Villanueva would both make a big difference for our Vikings. If neither player was an option, I’d hope the Vikings sign a safety. Look, I get that a safety is less important than a LT. What I’m trying to avoid, though, is a situation where (God forbid) something happens to Harrison Smith and all of the sudden there is serious concern at that position. Bring in a vet like Xavier Woods or Malik Hooker for relatively cheap and then focus-in on the OL.
Forum Funky: I said Patterson last time, didn’t I? I’d still love that, because that’s the loyalist homer in me. What a great return specialist, teammate, and personality! If I can’t have him, then give me Sack Daddy! Talk about personality! Too bad he was talking nonsense on Twitter several weeks back. Don’t drink and tweet, guys!
Danchat: My #1 target would be LT Alejandro Villanueva. The Vikings need a LT and the rumors say that they want Cleveland to stay at guard. Ideally we’d keep O’Neill at RT and extend him as a RT (so he’ll be considerably cheaper). This doesn’t fix our gaping hole at guard, but Alejandro has posted five positive seasons in a row by PFF’s standards. We need to sign/draft the best OL possible.
3) How does free agency impact Minnesota’s draft strategy?
Norm: I think it makes a pretty big difference. A few weeks back, Spielman said that his staff was evaluating the strengths of both free agency and the draft. The overall goal, Spielman explained, was to fill as many holes as possible. They’ve plugged defensive holes in free agency; my expectation is that they’ll plug offensive ones in the draft. Christian Darrisaw better be ready for Minnesota winters.
Forum Funky: That probably depends if we make another splash move or not. There are some rumors going around that something is in the works. Who knows, though? It’s silly season, so there is a lot of stuff going around right now. But as it is now, I would hope that the priority is OL. I feel like I say this every year though, so… But even if we get another solid OL addition in free agency, I would hope the draft strategy remains BPA OL (early and often), but, a free agent addition opens up the possibility of simply: BPA.
Danchat: It shouldn’t change the strategy all that much. We could still use DT help since we lack a stronger interior rusher (and Lynch looks like a longshot). CB shouldn’t be classified as a need for early picks, though. The Vikings have enough needs that they shouldn’t need to reach in the 1st round, and with so many good O-line prospects, there should be at least a couple good ones on the board at #14.
4) Danielle Hunter. What is going to happen?
Norm: I think Hunter stays. Personally, I’m hesitant to offer a big-time extension. I’d very gladly kick in more guaranteed money this season and perhaps next season, though. From there, I’d be open about the team’s desire to extend him next offseason.
Forum Funky: They work it out. It appears that both sides want to, so let’s hope that it gets done. We all saw what our DL looked like last year without Hunter, and I think it’s safe to say that no one wants to see anything like that ever again! Hunter loves the Vikings, and the Vikings love him. Let’s get it sorted out so we can all breathe again.
Danchat: The Vikings are going to give Hunter a raise. Spielman and Zimmer can’t afford to have him gone in a do-or-die season. They will wait until training camp to assess his health, and then work on the deal.
5) On a scale from 1-10, how optimistic should Vikings fans be feeling? 10 is Bucs/Brady level whereas a 1 is Darnold/Jets level.
Norm: I’m sitting at around a 7. The defense ought to make a sizeable improvement, and the Barr restructure gives us flexibility now and in the future. Couple that with improvements to the defensive line + secondary and the Vikings find themselves in a reasonable spot defensively (I just wish they re-signed Harris). If Minnesota can solve the o-line riddle (we’ve been unable to thus far), then the rest of the NFC should be concerned. This roster isn’t that far off.
Forum Funky: Probably between 6-7. I get a bad rap for being a “homer” on Purple Pain, but that’s not true. Yes, I always remain optimistic, because I’m not about to throw in the towel before the season even starts! I ain’t about that life! However, we’re Vikings fans. I know better than to get too excited. I think there is potential to win 11-12 games, but there is just as good of a chance to win 8 or 9. Hopefully learning from last year, getting a few of our guys back, and the new additions this offseason all add up to flipping a few games and securing a spot in the playoffs. SKOL!
Danchat: I’m still at a 4. This feels like a team that can make the playoffs in the #5-7 seeds, but will get blown out by a superior team. There’s too many holes for this squad to be considered a Super Bowl contender, and I foresee regression coming for the offense. Right now the entire run game is at the mercy of Dalvin’s health, and the entire pass rush is at the mercy of Danielle’s health. I’m a bit more optimistic since this is an odd year and Zimmer’s teams just play better in them for some reason, but I think I’ve seen enough of the Spielman/Zimmer/Cousins trio to know what to expect from this team, which lowers the excitement level.