The first day of free agency is like Christmas morning to fans young and old. It’s a brand new year and anything can happen for your favorite team. There’s no doubt Purple Nation wants to see changes, and many fans may have been left scratching their heads after day one. With rumors flying about Michael Johnson, Alterraun Verner, and other big names; we were all expecting a splash signing. It didn’t happen. But the moves we made on day two, and moving forward, have been nothing shy of excellent! Let’s take an in-depth look at what the Vikings have done, and what could be coming next.
It was on Wednesday that Minnesota inked nose tackle Linval Joseph: (5 years, $31.5M; $12.5M guaranteed). Joseph comes in at six-four, 323 pounds. He played the first four years of his career for the New York Giants, after being drafted in Round 2 of the 2010 NFL Draft out of East Carolina. Joseph started 46-48 career games, averaged 55 tackles and 3.0 sacks over the last three years, and won a Super Bowl in 2011. He has lived up to his draft status, and I don’t know what the G-Men were thinking letting him walk. Maybe they thought they could keep him for less than market value, and it back-fired. Either way, we should be rejoicing.
Nose tackle is the foundation of Mike Zimmer’s defense, and we have been searching for an upgrade at the position since Pat Williams left the team after the 2010 season. Joseph is only 25 years old, and has spent his career modeling his game after the man we have been desperately trying to replace. Linval is a massive run-stuffer, and has grown as an interior pass-rusher. Joseph said it best: “I have speed…I make plays.” That sounds good to me. The newest member of our once proud franchise is going to make life miserable for Aaron Rodgers, and the rest of the NFC North signal-callers. Interior pressure is a quarterback’s worst nightmare. Also, keep in mind that Pat Williams was 32 years old when he signed with Minnesota. Linval Joseph has the opportunity to solidify our defensive line for years to come! Now that he’s playing with Shariff Floyd, Everson Griffen, and rising star Brian Robison, the Purple People Eaters may be back in town once more.
Thursday was a busy day for the Minnesota Vikings, which began with a key signing. Welcome to Minnesota Captain Munnerlyn! The former Panther defensive back agreed to a contract worth: (3 years, $14.25M; 7M guaranteed). Munnerlyn is entering the prime of his career, as he will only be 26 entering the 2014 season. He will instantly become the starting cornerback across from second-year stud Xavier Rhodes. The former Gamecock is a solid five-eight, 195 pounds, and can also play nickel corner on third down. He could also compete with Marcus Sherels for the punt-returning job which will only make the team better. Drafted in Round 7 of 2009, Munnerlyn has: 274 tackles, 5 sacks, 7 INT’s, and two forced fumbles for his career. Five of those seven picks have been returned for touchdowns. It’s going to be exciting seeing this playmaker flourish under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer. Munnerlyn admired the playing style of former Viking Antoine Winfield. He happens to be the same age Winfield was when he signed with the team in 2004. This signing instantly improves our secondary by giving us a solid starter, and nickel back (Not the terrible band). Josh Robinson could play outside on third downs, and a unit that was a weakness last season may now be a huge strength.
After signing Munnerlyn, the Vikings then added veteran defensive back Derek Cox to a “prove it” deal: (1 year, $780,000, no guarantees). Cox began his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009 and looked to have number one cornerback potential. He signed a 4 year deal with the Chargers last season, but became a cap causality after inconsistent play. Cox lost his starting job to veteran Richard Marshall, who happened to be replaced in Carolina by Captain Munnerlyn. I like this signing though. He will add depth to the secondary, costs nothing, and who better to get the most out of him then defensive backs guru Mike Zimmer? He’s not a big name, but it’s signings like this that fill holes and save valuable draft picks.
These may not have been household names in Minnesota, but these players are going to be much better than people think. Also, we still have roughly $9M to spend in free agency after accounting for what incoming draft prospects will be paid. We have been kicking the tires of defensive tackle Henry Melton, which would be an awesome signing, so we might not be done yet Vikings fans. Our defense has the potential to be great. The only upgrades left in my opinion are at safety and linebacker. We have a lot of options in the upcoming NFL Draft after our recent signings. I would love a scenario where Johnny Manziel is still on the board at Pick 8. We could let Cassel play for this season as Manziel learns Turner’s offense for a year. They did do that back in the day before coaches started ruining rookie signal-callers. I think Spielman will move up and down the draft again this year, and we could have some realistic hope for the future. It feels good to be a Vikings fan right now. SKOL Vikings!