Four backup tackle options for Vikings

The Vikings have their starters in place at offensive tackle for another year, but they could look to bolster the depth that was called upon last season. There are four backup tackles under 30 years old that received playing time and could be decent fits for the Vikings’ needs in free agency.

Last season the Minnesota Vikings had their depth at offensive tackle tested when Phil Loadholt went down with a torn pectoral muscle. During the 2014 offseason the Vikings signed Mike Harris, and he filled in for Loadholt. Harris had a lot of ups and downs in the six weeks he started at right tackle, being credited with allowing five sacks, two quarterback hits and 11 quarterback hurries, and he finished the season with a -6.6 rating from Pro Football Focus.

After Loadholt went down with injury there was a lot of question as to what would be done if Matt Kalil or Harris were to get injured. The Vikings had two other tackles on their roster in Antonio Richardson and Austin Wentworth, but Richardson was recovering from surgeries to both knee and Wentworth was viewed more as a guard in the NFL because of his size.

The Vikings brought in J’Marcus Webb, thinking he could be a viable option as a backup, but he was only with the team for a few weeks. After Webb’s departure, they signed Minnesota native Carter Brykowski off the San Francisco 49ers practice squad on Dec. 10.

Now the Vikings will have to decide if they view the players on their roster as viable backups or not. If they don’t feel comfortable with these players, they will likely look to free agency to find a veteran tackle who has had plenty of playing experience in the NFL.

If they do decide to address this position, they aren’t likely target one of the highly touted players, but instead someone they can get at an affordable price to create a battle for a roster spot with the players they already have on the roster during training camp and the preseason.

There are four players the Vikings could target when looking at offensive tackles who received playing time last season, but are not expected to draw a big price tag and are under the age of 30. They are Gabe Carimi, Marshall Newhouse, Jeff Linkenbach, and Jason Fox.

Last season Carimi – 26 years old – played in all 16 regular-season games where he played left tackle, right tackle, left guard and right guard. Even though he played in all 16 games, he only started seven of them. Carimi was a solid run blocker over the course of the season, but would struggle with pass blocking from time to time and was credited with allowing five sacks, seven quarterback hits and 19 quarterback hurries. At the end of the regular season, Carimi was given a -10.7 rating from PFF, but most of that came from his Week 1 and Week 6 games, when he received a combined -12.6 rating.

Newhouse is a 26-year-old tackle who spent the majority of his career in Green Bay but played in Cincinnati last season. In 2014, Newhouse played in 14 regular-season games and started in four of them. He received time at both left and right tackle and received a -11.6 overall rating by PFF at the end of the regular season. He was credited for allowing two sacks, three quarterback hits and 11 quarterback hurries.

Linkenbach is a 27-year-old tackle that spent the first four years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts but played for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014. He received playing time in all 16 regular season games for the Chiefs, starting three.

Finally, Fox is a 26-year-old tackle that spent the first four years of his career with the Detroit Lions but spent the 2014 season in Miami. He played in nine of the Dolphins’ regular-season games and started in two of them.

It’s very possible the Vikings decide they are happy with what they have to back up Kalil and Loadholt and don’t look for any other offensive tackles. But if they do decide to test the market, these four players could be options that they look at. This is because they are young, have had experience playing and starting in the NFL and are likely to come at a relatively cheap price.


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