If there were an expansion draft this offseason, who would the Vikings make available?
That's (obviously) not something that's going to happen, but it's a fun hypothetical scenario to think about. There hasn't been an expansion draft since the Texans joined the NFL in 2002. It's possible that the league could look to surpass 32 teams – perhaps moving internationally with a franchise in Mexico City, Canada, or London – in the not-so-distant future.
ESPN's Bill Barnwell recently took a stab at what an expansion draft this offseason would look like. Here were his rules:
All 32 teams have to make five players available in the expansion draft, and only one of those players can have 10 or more years of NFL experience. Every player nominated must have played at least one snap for their team in 2019. This eliminates any 2020 draft picks or undrafted free agents. It also means players who missed the entire season via injury, such as Alex Smith, can't be left exposed. Punters and kickers can't be included, and I'll limit myself to a maximum of two players off any one roster.
Our new franchise has to pick 30 players or acquire contracts equal to 38% of the salary cap, which is just over $75.3 million.
Here are five players he made available for the Vikings under those criteria:
- C Brett Jones ($840,000)
- WR Davion Davis ($675,000)
- CB Nate Meadors ($675,000)
- TE Brandon Dillon ($610,000)
- CB Mark Fields ($610,000)
Barnwell chose Jones as one of the 30 players to add to his hypothetical 33rd NFL team.
Jones started for the Giants at center during their disastrous 2017 campaign before being sent to the Vikings the following year. I'm not sure he is an average starting center, but he is both competent and cheap, so he's well worth adding to our roster.
The Vikings get fairly lucky here in that they don't lose much. The minimum criteria is one snap played in 2019, and Minnesota has several players who come very close to that minimum. Including special teams, Dillon played seven snaps, Fields played eight, Jones and Davis played 11, and Meadors played 34. There are some interesting depth pieces here, but losing any of these players wouldn't affect the Vikings' 2020 outlook much, if at all.
Some other players I would consider including here are Jalyn Holmes, Aviante Collins, and Alexander Hollins.
Barnwell ended up with 30 players to kickstart his expansion team, which would also add players through the draft and free agency. He didn't get a ton of talent, but there were some interesting names on his squad, including Jacoby Brissett, Josh Rosen, Tyrell Williams, Adam Shaheen, Deatrich Wise, Luke Willson, and Andrew Norwell.
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