In a span of five minutes, the Vikings re-signed one of the worst starting interior offensive linemen in the NFL last season and missed out on one of the best IOL still on the market. Ouch.
The Vikings are bringing back Dakota Dozier, who started all 16 games for them at left guard last season despite inconsistent results for much of the year that turned into a disaster over the final month of the season. And the Chiefs are signing former Rams center/guard Austin Blythe, who was one of the top free agents out there with the potential to play guard in Minnesota. Both moves were reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Despite the above tweet, which was mostly in jest, this isn't actually a reason to panic.
Dozier is almost assuredly signing for the veteran minimum. As a depth option, he's probably still better than unproven young players like Dru Samia, Kyle Hinton, or Zack Bailey. He's been with the Vikings for the past two seasons, so he at least would know what to do in the event that he was needed for a spot start or to come in during a game.
If Dozier wins a starting job at guard again in 2021, you're allowed to panic. That the Vikings started him all of last season despite watching him look overmatched week in and week out remains one of the more perplexing things I've witnessed in all of my years watching and now covering football. He finished 77th out of 80 qualified guards in PFF grade, led all interior linemen by a wide margin with 46 pressures allowed, gave up six sacks and contributed to several others, and committed nine penalties.
But again, if Dozier is merely a backup lineman, this move is fine. The optics and social media reaction are amusing, but it's not something to freak out over, for now.
Blythe signing with the Chiefs is also not a huge deal. He could've been a solid pickup for the Vikings, but there are still plenty of options out there. Guards still on the market include Trai Turner, Forrest Lamp, Lane Taylor, and a bunch of other decent-but-uninspiring options. This year's draft is also deep at both guard and tackle.
For now, the Vikings' starting guards are Dozier and recent trade pickup Mason Cole (or Ezra Cleveland, if you want to start Rashod Hill at left tackle). That's not great, although I think Cole has some upside.
If those are still the starting guards for Week 1 this fall, the Vikings are in trouble. But there's still plenty of offseason left to go, folks. Let's wait and see what else they do to address the offensive line before we declare that the sky is falling.
One other note: the Vikings placed tight end Hale Hentges on the Reserve/Retired list. The only tight ends currently on the roster are Irv Smith Jr., Tyler Conklin, and Brandon Dillon.
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