Vikings free-agent focus: Defensive tackles

The Vikings have created a big need at defensive tackle, and "big" is what they could be going for in their replacements. With Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion and Fred Evans either scheduled to be free agents or already on the open market, there is little doubt bodies are needed.

Between scheduled free agency and the release of Red Bryant, the NFL appears ready to produce close to 10 legitimate starters at defensive tackle and perhaps more in free agency.

From the spendy types, like Randy Starks and Linval Joseph, all the way down to the Vikings' own free agent, Fred Evans, who could be anywhere from a fringe starter to on a roster bubble, there are a lot of options in the interior defensive line expected to reach the open market on Tuesday.

VIKINGS VIEW

The Vikings could see a nearly complete overhaul at defensive tackle. Kevin Williams and Fred Evans are free agents. Letroy Guion was released. Those were three of the top four tackles in the rotation, at least for the base defense.

They have to find a nose tackle, likely in free agency, and add depth.

INSIDE OPTIONS

The team's first pick in 2013, Sharrif Floyd, is expected to move into a starting role with some of the qualities that new head coach Mike Zimmer likes, at least from what he sees on film. But finding a big nose tackle will be one of the top tasks for the Vikings, either in free agency (more likely) or in the draft (also possible for finding a developmental/rotational guy).

But with Floyd and little-used Chase Baker as the only defensive tackles currently on the roster, the defensive rebuilding project starts in the trenches.

TOP OUTSIDE OPTIONS

Linval Joseph: Staring all but two games over the last three years, he has averaged more than 50 tackles per season and three sacks. He has the size to play nose tackle at 6-foot-4 and 323 pounds and is considered one of the top prospects among free-agent defensive tackles.

Paul Soliai: At 6-4, 340 pounds, Soliai has been a space eater more than a playmaker, but the Vikings are going to ask their nose tackle to take on double teams and try to anchor and occupy space more than penetrate into the backfield. Soliai can fit that role well, but he, like Joseph, won't come cheap. New Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, who coached linebackers for the Miami Dolphins last year, will give the Vikings all the information on Soliai they need to make an informed decision.

Cam Thomas: If the Vikings are looking to get further down the salary scale for their nose tackle, San Diego's Cam Thomas, who has slowly worked his way into a starting role over the last three years with the San Diego Chargers, could be a possibility. He, like Joseph and Soliai, is 6-foot-4 but not quite as big at 330 pounds. And, like Soliai, the Vikings should be able to get some in-depth, first-hand information on him. Thomas spent the first three years of his career with Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner as his head coach in San Diego.

THE FREE AGENTS

Randy Starks
Linval Joseph
Jason Hatcher
Henry Melton
Paul Soliai
B.J. Raji
Red Bryant
Tony McDaniel
Jonathan Babineaux
Pat Sims
Clinton McDonald
Kevin Williams
Vance Walker
Earl Mitchell
Cam Thomas
Terrence Cody
Clifton Geathers
Mitch Unrein
Al Woods
Ziggy Hood
Mike Patterson
Fili Moala
Peria Jerry
Ryan Pickett
Leger Douzable
Antonio Johnson
Fred Evans
Shaun Rogers
Johnny Jolly
Nate Collins
Andre Fluellen
Terrell McClain
Aubrayo Franklin
Jarius Wynn
Landon Cohen
Colin Cole
Brandon Deaderick
Demarcus Dobbs
Gary Gibson
Corvey Irvin
Tom Johnson
Derek Landri
Kyle Love
Daniel Muir
Ogemdi Nwagbuo


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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