With his "new star receiver" standing several feet to his left, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman closed his introduction of Greg Jennings on March 15 by suggesting the contract the team had just given the free-agent receiver would be the last notable deal it would make for a while. The five-year, $47.5 million deal the Vikings gave Jennings represented one of the team's few forays into the open market over the past two seasons. It was for a veteran receiver Spielman called "unique," and combined with the other moves the team made during the first week of free agency, it consumed most of the Vikings' available salary cap space; the team has less than $5 million available after re-signing linebacker Marvin Mitchell. "We'll continue to look out there in the (unrestricted free-agent) market, but we're really going to hone in now," Spielman said after introducing Jennings two weeks ago. "I'm very excited about this next process of making the Minnesota Vikings better, and that's the draft coming up, with a lot of the picks we're going to have." They have 11 of them, including two in the first round. They also have needs other than receiver, and with Jennings on the roster, the Vikings have the freedom to address a few of them at the top of the draft. Here's a look at how the Vikings' roster shapes up, which holes they need to fill and what they could do about them for the rest of the offseason: A MAN FOR THE MIDDLE? Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told reporters at the NFL owners' meetings this month that the team wants to "potentially draft someone" to play middle linebacker, adding depth to a position where the Vikings are strikingly thin. Mitchell and Audie Cole are the only middle linebackers on the roster, and both saw most of their action last season on special teams. With two first-round picks, the Vikings have a chance to acquire a top middle linebacker, either by taking one late in the round or packaging one of their choices to move up. Georgia's Alec Ogeltree could be gone by the time the Vikings pick, though he's been dogged by off-field concerns. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o might have answered his own well-documented off-the-field troubles, but concerns about his speed and his poor performance in the national championship game persist. LSU's Kevin Minter could go before Te'o, and NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said Rutgers' Khaseem Greene or Kansas State's Arthur Brown could fit the Vikings, though both are projected as outside linebackers. Could the Vikings dip back into the free-agent market? It's possible, but they might have a hard time finding a veteran who would play on the kind of cap-friendly deal that would allow them to sign all their draft picks. That, and the Vikings' focus on younger players, might make ex-Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher a long shot.
Minnesota Vikings have holes and very little money
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Mar 31