As the Minnesota Vikings approach free agency and the draft, the front-burner topic is going to be offensive line, specifically offensive tackle. Technically, Matt Kalil, Andre Smith and Jake Long are all unrestricted free agents, but it would appear the Vikings have no intention of re-signing Smith or Long, and Kalil is a question mark.
Perhaps no player in NFL saw his value increase by being injured more than Kalil because, for all the abuse he took from social media types, it was only when he was gone and replaced that his value was realized. If he and the Vikings can reach an agreement – likely at a team-friendly number – the need for a veteran type to compete with guys like T.J. Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles would be reduced to one.
If they don’t, the priority will climb higher.
Here’s our list of offensive tackles the Vikings may be looking at, whether they’re in the market for one OT or two.
Andrew Whitworth – Although he is 35, he is viewed as a frontrunner to be the top free agent left tackle available. Given the history with Mike Zimmer, which has been a habit of Bengals becoming Vikings, you can’t overlook him despite making $9 million last year.
Riley Reiff, Detroit – The 23rd pick in the first round of the 2012, Reiff was forced to play left tackle for Detroit, but could be a dominating right tackle. He would be more than just interesting to select because it would not only help the Vikings – whether Kalil is back or not – it would also hurt division rival Detroit.
Ricky Wagner – The Ravens are likely going to have pony up big to keep him. His contract demands could easily be in the four-year, $25 million range – great money for a right tackle.
Marshall Newhouse – He has been a starter with the Packers, Bengals and Giants, but lost his starting job in Green Bay and New York, has been a part-time player three of the last four years and hasn’t played 16 games in the last four seasons. At 28, he could be a value right tackle if the price is right.
Ryan Clady – He had an awful season with the Jets, but has a Super Bowl pedigree from his days in Denver and could be worth a look if Kalil doesn’t come back.
Cameron Fleming – A wild card in that he is a mammoth 6-foot-6, 320 pounds and a restricted free agent from the Patriots. He has started 12 games over the last two seasons and would be an immediate upgrade for the Vikings, but one that would come with an offer sheet and a compensation price.
Mike Remmers, Carolina – He was exposed by Denver in the Super Bowl 50 and last year was problematic all year. The former Viking would need to come back at a much better price than he had in his first run and, with the need at right tackle, he may get a look.
Menelik Watson – A big, powerful, part-time right tackle in Oakland at 6-5, 315, he has never been a full-time starter, missed the entire 2016 season and has started 17 of 27 games (out of a possible 64 had he been healthy).
William Beatty – An eight-year veteran with the Giants, he was a four-year starter before missing all of the 2015 season and never regained his starting job. He’s 31 with an injury history at left tackle, which is a recipe for boom/bust type signings, with the busts winning out more times than the booms.
Sebastian Vollmer – He missed the entire 2016 season and, at 33, is getting a little long in the tooth, but he has proved he can play right tackle at a high level.
Eric Winston – A 10-year veteran who was a backup the last three years in Cincinnati, he’s 33, but was a seven-year starter who never missed a game in stints with the Texans, Chiefs and Cardinals. A risk-reward pick if he’s healthy.
Jordan Mills – He was a full-time starter for Buffalo last season and is only 26, but struggled badly much of the season and wouldn’t be an ideal starting candidate. But, he was a starter with the Bears in 2013-14 and has started 50 of 55 career games at right tackle.
Some of the names above will be looking for up to $10 million per season. Others will come much cheaper, but one way or another, in the draft or free agency, offensive tackle has to be the biggest priority for the Vikings.