The St. Paul Pioneer Press was the first to report the Vikings interest in Iupati. He is listed as the second-best free-agent guard by Scout.com, and would be a big upgrade from what the Vikings had a year ago. Charlie Johnson has already been released from the Vikings, and it is likely that Vladimir Ducasse will not be re-signed after both struggled in 2014.
The Vikings’ offensive line allowed 51 sacks last season, and that is a number the team is going to want to improve on in 2015. The Vikings are hoping to keep Teddy Bridgewater upright more often in his second season, and signing Iupati could be a way of doing that.
The downside, however, is that general manager Rick Spielman said the Vikings would not pursue any of the top free agents this offseason unless a “unique” opportunity presented itself. Having the chance to sign a top free-agent offensive lineman could be considered a unique opportunity, but it was reported that Iupati would be seeking a deal around $8 million-plus a year, and that price tag could be more than the Vikings are willing to pay at that position.
The other player the Vikings have shown interest in, according to the Minneapolis Star, is Cincinnati safety Taylor Mays. Where Iupati would come in and be a Day 1 starter, Mays would likely be a backup to Harrison Smith or whoever starts next to him, or be given a chance to compete against the likes of Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo with no guarantees of a starting spot.
Mays is familiar with head coach Mike Zimmer, as Mays was a member of the Bengals defense while Zimmer was the defensive coordinator. In those three years with Zimmer, Mays was always a backup and special teams contributor. However, the Vikings could be targeting Mays as a player they believe could help them out on special teams.
The Vikings recorded zero touchdowns from their punt and kickoff return teams in 2014. This following a 2013 season that saw three returned for touchdowns. Mays would bring experience to the Vikings special teams, and would be a player that they do not have to break the bank on.
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