Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line

The Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line is Still a Concern

  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Offensive Line
By K. Joudry April 6, 2021 0 Comment
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My assumption heading into free agency was that Minnesota Vikings were going to prioritize the offensive line. Years of lackluster play have crystallized just how important the o-line is for Minnesota’s success.

In case there was any doubt, the Super Bowl reinforced how crucial a competent offensive line is. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers teed off on Patrick Mahomes – the most gifted quarterback on planet earth – and made him look human; in turn, Kansas City’s offense didn’t know how to respond.

My thinking, then, was that Minnesota would be among the several teams competing for some of the high-end free agent offensive linemen. I knew that players like Trent Williams would be a stretch, but Joe Thuney, David Andrews, and Corey Linsley made some sense. Unfortunately, the Vikings felt otherwise.

Not only did they fail to add to their o-line (apart from a trade for Mason Cole), the Vikings actually subtracted. Riley Reiff, one of the most underrated offensive linemen in the NFL, was cut to free up precious cap space. I, like many folks who follow the Vikings, am left wondering about what Minnesota will do.

Do the Minnesota Vikings Have Offensive Line Options in Free Agency?

Recently, I wrote about where the Vikings might be able to find some continuity on their offensive line. Their unwillingness to meaningfully address the o-line in free agency (at least so far) suggests they’re planning on Ezra Cleveland being one of the team’s starting five linemen.

From my vantage point, Cleveland is likely going to stay at guard. Mike Zimmer suggested that Cleveland is currently an RG but that the situation could change. If Cleveland stays on the right side, then at least Minnesota has some continuity. The Garrett Bradbury-Ezra Cleveland-Brian O’Neill trio offers Minnesota with a super athletic, upside right-half of their line. It’s one worth building around.

The left side of the line is basically a mess. Rashod Hill signed a modest deal, but it’s best if he remains an upside swing tackle. He’s an excellent depth player, so it would be wise to keep him in that role. To keep Hill in a backup role, Rick Spielman will likely need to tap into the newfound wealth from his salary cap shenanigans.

Outside Options for the Vikings’ Offensive Line

Spielman finds himself with around $7.5 million in cap space, per Over the Cap. Kyle Rudolph is a post-June 1 cut, meaning Minnesota will get some more cap room in the middle of the summer. In other words, Spielman can confidently spend close to all of his money since he knows that he’ll have the necessary cap room to sign his draft class by mid-summer. One has to think that Spielman is currently flirting with one of the remaining veteran offensive tackles who are still available, Russell Okung, Alejandro Villanueva, and Mitchell Schwartz, foremost among them.

Otherwise, the rumors are that Minnesota is interested in Forrest Lamp. Austin Blythe seemed like a good option, but he’s no longer available. Austin Reiter may be a good option.

The Importance of the Draft

A little while ago, Rick Spielman discussed how the Vikings were going to address the offseason. Spielman suggested that the team was assessing where the strengths of free agency and the draft were: “We’ve still got a lot of work to do and we’re still in the process, but I think I have a pretty good sense right now — before free agency kicks off in a couple of weeks — where the strengths of the draft are, where the strengths are in free agency … and how we’re going to roadmap and fill as many needs as we possibly can.”

So far, Spielman has filled his team’s needs on defense. The additions of Stephen Weatherly, Dalvin Tomlinson, Mackensie Alexander, and Patrick Peterson are all important moves. The fact that they’re all on defense suggests that Spielman feels the draft has some talent on offense.

Possible Offensive Line Options

A recent Mel Kiper mock draft suggested that the Minnesota Vikings would give their offensive line a major boost by trading up for Penei Sewell. It’s an unlikely scenario, but one that Minnesota would likely welcome. Sewell is an impressive player, one who would help solidify Minnesota’s o-line for years to come. The issue, of course, is that Sewell likely isn’t getting past Cincinnati at #5.

The Vikings will therefore find themselves in an interesting spot on draft day. Christian Darrisaw may be available at #14, and if he is, Minnesota ought to be interested. The draft community holds Darrisaw in high regard. Samuel Cosmi, Rashawn Slater, and Alijah Vera-Tucker are also names to remember.

Regardless of which direction they go, fans can be close to certain that Spielman addresses the offensive line in a significant way over the draft weekend. Minnesota’s approach to free agency pretty much guarantees it.

Looking Ahead

The Vikings roster is not complete, but it’s clear that they have some serious talent. If they find a way to even raise their play along the offensive line from horrible to average, it’s not inconceivable that the Minnesota Vikings will be a contender in the NFC. Let’s collectively hope Zim and Spielman can finally solve the o-line riddle.

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I cover the Minnesota Vikings for The Brawl Network. You can find more of my work at my site: vikingsgazette.com. Skol.

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