Veteran Offensive Tackles the Vikings Could Still Target in Free Agency
The first wave of free agency has come and gone, and we're probably past the second wave as well. But as we head into mid-April, there are still plenty of capable veterans on the market that could help a team win games in 2020.
When it comes to the Vikings and their myriad roster holes, it may be smart to target a couple free agents instead of relying entirely on the draft to replace the large crop of talent that departed this offseason. The Vikings have roughly $8 million to spend when you exclude the money needed for their incoming rookie class, and more could be cleared depending on what happens with Anthony Harris, Riley Reiff, and a few other players.
With that in mind, we're going through the Vikings' positions of need to see who's still out there. We started with wide receivers back in late March, and the Vikings ended up signing one in Tajae Sharpe. We looked at veteran cornerbacks last week. Now we're onto the remaining free agents at offensive tackle.
The Vikings need a tackle of the future to pair with Brian O'Neill, and have been linked to scheme-fitting players like Josh Jones, Austin Jackson, and Ezra Cleveland in the first two rounds of the draft. But they could also find themselves in need of a veteran stopgap at the position; it all comes down to what they do with Reiff.
Reiff's $13.2 million cap hit in 2020 is the second-highest on the roster, and his play – while solid – hasn't lived up to that figure. He remains a candidate to be cut, as doing so would only come with $4.4 million in dead money, clearing $8.8 million in cap space. If he's cut or traded with a post-June 1 designation, that dead money could be spread across this year and next year's cap. Another option that has been discussed is bumping Reiff inside to guard, which would open up a spot for a veteran tackle.
If a move involving Reiff is made, and that move doesn't bring Trent Williams to Minnesota, the Vikings could be in the market for a free agent tackle. They're probably not going to want to rely on Rashod Hill or Oli Udoh as a starter in 2020.
Here's who's left on the market:
Jason Peters, LT
Peters is by far the top remaining free agent tackle. Sure, he's 38 years old, but the longtime former Eagle remains capable of playing at a very high level. Last year PFF graded him as the sixth-best tackle in football. In 2017, he was No. 4. The 2010s All-Decade team member isn't the elite athlete he was when he was younger, but Peters still has the movement ability to survive in a zone blocking scheme. More importantly, he'd be the best pass-protecting left tackle the Vikings have had in an extremely long time. Signing Peters to a one-year deal worth $7-8 million and letting a rookie develop underneath him is something the Vikings should seriously consider.
Demar Dotson, RT
Another former undrafted free agent, the 6-foot-9 Dotson would make the Vikings' offensive line better in 2020. He's primarily a right tackle, so O'Neill would shift over to the left side, where he played in college. The 34-year-old Dotson has consistently been a very good tackle, and would come at a cheaper price than what the Vikings are paying Reiff.
Kelvin Beachum, LT
Beachum is just 30 years old, making him notably younger than Peters and Dotson, but he also doesn't come with the same track record. He was outstanding in his early-career days with the Steelers, posting excellent PFF grades in 2014 and 2015. Since then, during his time with the Jets, he's been a much better pass-protector than run-blocker. That makes him similar to Hill, so the Vikings probably won't be interested.
Cordy Glenn, LT
Glenn's case is fairly similar to Beachum's. He's been a really good left tackle in the past (2012-2016), but hasn't played up to that level in recent years, especially in run-blocking. Given how much the Vikings run the football, that might take him out of their consideration. Injuries have been a factor in Glenn's decline, so there's a possibility he could regain his old form if he stays healthy. Either Beachum or Glenn could be appealing at the right price.
Other scrap-heap options: Jordan Mills, James Hurst, Jason Spriggs, Cam Erving
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