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Top tackles fly off market without a Minnesota Vikings deal

The Minnesota Vikings’ search for a free-agent tackle is getting harder by the hour as three top ones are agreeing to deals that don’t include Minnesota.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman preached patience at the start of free agency. He will have to practice what he preached after three of the top tackles on the free-agent market have now reportedly agreed to the parameters of a deal without the Vikings being able to secure any of them.

Ricky Wagner agreed to a deal in principle with the Detroit Lions during, Matt Kalil is reportedly set to join his brother Ryan and play for the Carolina Panthers, and ESPN reports that former Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth is headed to the Los Angeles Rams.

The terms of the Whitworth deal, as laid out by ESPN, shouldn’t be surprising. He will average $12 million per season if he sees the end of the three-year deal and has $15 million guaranteed, but the surprising part of the deal is only $2.5 million is guaranteed in the second year of the contract.

Either way, Whitworth was considered the best pass-blocking left tackle on the free-agent market and with Kalil and Wagner gone, that makes three of the top five offensive tackles on the market heading to other teams not named the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings didn’t dispute that fixing their offensive line was a top priority this offseason, but so far they have lost Kalil and not been able to woo Wagner or Whitworth to Minnesota.

“Sometimes you can go in and have a plan, but you don’t control what happens, either. The market goes way out of whack where it’s overinflated and you don’t think there’s value there for what you’re going to have to pay,” Spielman said earlier this month. “You just go into this having a specific plan in place, but also have Plan B and C in place if Plan A doesn’t go through.”

Spielman knew the initial market would be hot and it has proven to be that. But he also stressed the importance of patience at the start of free agency.

“We have the flexibility to [be aggressive] with the monies we’ve been clearing up, what we’ve cleared up over the last couple weeks. But I still think we have to be patient and you have to be smart and not hit the panic button,” he said last week. “We don’t have an opening-season game a week from now. There’s plenty of time between now and the draft, even potential trades before the season. There’s a lot of ways you still have time, where if you don’t come out of the gate and having something done by Thursday or Friday, it doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end.”

One big-name left tackle remains, as Russell Okung will hit the market at 3 p.m. Central Thursday, and the Vikings have reportedly shown an interest in him.

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