While much of the talk has centered on the Minnesota Vikings’ free-agent signings and the needs left to fill, the team also lost numerous free agents.
Matt Kalil, Captain Munnerlyn and Charles Johnson all signed with the Carolina Panthers. Rhett Ellison joined the New York Giants, Audie Cole signed with Jacksonville, Jeff Locke will be in Indianapolis and Andre Smith returned to Cincinnati. Cordarrelle Patterson signed with the Raiders and has tried to influence Adrian Peterson to join him.
Peterson remains the biggest Vikings free agent that is unsigned. The combination of his age (32) and reported asking price left the Vikings relatively uninterested, but salary always plays a factor in free-agent decisions.
“It was just the way it was with some of the guys, salary. He’s still a good player,” Zimmer said of Peterson.
The Vikings head coach said no teams called him to inquire about Peterson, but Zimmer still believes Peterson can be productive, although he said he has no idea where that might be.
“I honestly don’t know,” Zimmer said. “I’m sure he’ll find a place to play and he’ll have a good year.”
One option that Peterson seemed interested in was the New York Giants, the team that Ellison joined as a strong blocking tight end.
“Rhett’s a great kid, number one. He’s a great competitor. He’s tough,” Zimmer said. “I walked up to him one day during the season last year and said, ‘Rhett, I want to tell you how much I appreciate how you go about your work, the things you do, the kind of person you are.’ He’s going to fight and do everything he possibly can to help the team.
“He’s a good guy in the locker room. He’s quiet, but he’s a good guy.”
So far, Patterson’s efforts to recruit Peterson to the Raiders have failed, as Oakland reportedly had interest in swinging a deal to get Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. That hasn’t happened either, but when it comes to Patterson and why he didn’t work out in Minnesota, Zimmer said that’s now Oakland’s conundrum.
Kalil got the biggest contract of the former Vikings free agents, signing a five-year, $55 million deal to join his brother, Ryan, in Carolina.
“The injury hurt him a lot [last] year. Going into the last season, I felt like he was getting better,” Zimmer said. “Matt’s a great kid. He’s going to work real hard. He’s not going to miss practice, he’s not going to miss games, not until after he had the surgery. I think Matt has a big upside.”
Zimmer admitted a change of scenery could be good for Kalil, who said he quit using Twitter because of the harassment he took from Vikings fans.
Munnerlyn didn’t receive as much of that, as he turned into a very solid nickel corner for the Vikings after starting his career in Carolina. He’s back there once again.
“He’s a very smart nickel player that will go in there and use every means possible to cover the slot guys,” Zimmer said. “Good, tough competitive kid.”
FORMER VIKINGS AND BENGALS
- After being waived by the Vikings, former third-round pick Scott Crichton was claimed by the Buffalo Bills, then quickly waived by them the next day after failing his physical. Zimmer felt some responsibility that the Vikings couldn’t get more out of the oft-injured Crichton. “That was disappointing for me that I wasn’t able to do a better job with him. Scott was a guy that coming out of college was really a hard-playing kid, good athlete and it just kind of never clicked,” Zimmer said. “I don’t know if we ever really got him in the right position for whatever reason. It’s probably more on me.”
- Former Vikings tackle Carter Bykowski, an Eden Prairie, Minn. native, retired. He most recently was with the Atlanta Falcons and was placed on their reserve/retired list.
- Zimmer said the Vikings didn’t have any interest in trying to sign one of his former defenders in Cincinnati, Domata Peko, because the Vikings weren’t going to allocate big money to sign a backup nose tackle. Peko signed a two-year, $7.5 million free-agent contract with the Denver Broncos.