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Grading the Vikings Signing of Latavius Murray

The recent signing of Latavius Murray has officially put an end to the Adrian Peterson era in a Viking jersey. While it is a sad day we all knew it was coming. His production will be missed, but the Vikings are clearly going in a different direction with this offense.

Murray is a former 6th round pick by the Raiders who has overachieved in his young career. The 27 year old has racked up 2,278 yards on the ground with a 4.2 per carry average and 20 touchdowns on the ground. Add that to 91 career receptions and his above average ability to be a blocker in the backfield and the Vikings did pretty damn good. With only 3 years in the league he has plenty of tread left on his tires and as of now would most likely be looked at as a week 1 starter. Murray has a completely different style than Peterson, he is a more straight ahead runner who doesn’t dance much, gets tough yards and moves the chains.

The tough part will be trying to compare the newcomer to days of old where we would watch AP rip off 150 yard games left and right. So Viking fans need to be realistic on expectations. I see a lot of 70-90 yard games with a few bigger ones in between. Is Murray a longterm solution? I doubt it, but he could help bridge the gap for whatever rookie is drafted in 2017. Murray/McKinnon/Rookie TBD could end up being a 3 head monster for the Vikings offense … and I would be just fine with that.

Grade for signing Latavius Murray: B

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Vikings Offseason Grades and Moves

Below we track all Viking offseason moves both incoming and outgoing. Along with handing out grades for each and every signing. Click the guy below to see a full breakdown.

Free Agent Signings

OT – Mike Remmers – Five years, $30 million

OT – Riley Reiff – Five years, $58.8 million

DE/DT – Datone Jones – One-year, $3.75 million

RB – Latavius Murray – 3-year deal

Free Agent Losses

WR – Cordarrelle Patterson – Signed w/Raiders

CB – Captain Munnerlyn– Signed w/Panthers

LB – Audie Cole – Signed w/Jaguars

TE – Rhett Ellison – Signed w/Giants

P – Jeff Locke – Signed w/Colts

T – Matt Kalil – Signed w/Panthers

WR – Charles Johnson – Signed w/Panthers

OT – Andre Johnson – Signed w/Bengals

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Grading the Vikings Signing of Datone Jones

After a few quiet days on the Viking free agency front, the purple finally made some noise with the signing of former Packer defensive lineman Datone Jones.

The former 1st round pick is still only 26 years old and will have plenty to prove sticking around the NFC North. He has managed to start only 7 games during his 4 years in Green Bay, but honestly he never really seem to fit in the Packers scheme. They played him all over the place but never really seemed comfortable. I could see him being an above average depth player along the line for Minnesota, someone who can play either defensive end or kick inside to tackle if needed.

While he won’t wow you with his stats or flashy moves, he kind of does it all well. He plays well against he run and pass, and with guys like Griffen, Joseph, Robison around him he could easily end up putting up his best season as a pro in 2017. While that isn’t saying much considering he hasn’t done a ton, the Vikings defense doesn’t need a ton from him.

The numbers of his contract are a one-year prove-it deal worth $3.75 million but could increase to $5 million. All in all a pretty team friendly deal.

Grade for signing Datone Jones: B-

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Grading the Vikings Signing of Riley Reiff

After all the piss’n and moaning that the Vikings weren’t landing guys like Ricky Wagner and Andrew Whitworth, the Vikings finally got their guy in Riley Reiff.

The former 1st rounder found his new home right after free agency officially began. While some fans might feel the Vikings settled, or where outbid, fact is they landed one of the top younger offensive tackles available in free agency.

Yes, Vikings still have plenty of holes to fill on the offensive line this offseason, they put a good sized dent at the need with Reiff. He can play either tackle position and only time will tell where he’ll line-up for the Vikings. He plays at an above average level, and when push comes to shove the fact is he plays at about the exact level of former Viking (now Panther) Matt Kalil.

The 6’6, 305 lb tackle has started 69 games in his Lion career, and should be looked at as a leader for the Vikings offensive line in 2017. Overall ….. a huge signing for the Purple.

Grade for signing Riley Reiff: B

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Potential Free Agent Signings for the Minnesota Vikings

We are only days away from the 2nd best part of the offseason …. Free Agency. Come Thursday we’ll see guys switching teams at a rapid pace, and if the hype is true we should see the Vikings as one of the more active teams. Below are a few tiers of players that I feel the Vikings could be interested in, sticking to some of the more prominent needs when it comes to position with offensive line, defensive line and running back.

Also check out the Vikings current Free Agents and our thoughts if they will be back or not

The “Potential Holy Sh!t” Possibilities

These are the homerun type signings that will get every Viking fan talking about a Super Bowl run in 2017. The guys that everyone talk about prior to free agency and your team actually lands them …. aka Steve Hutchinson… Antoine Winfield.

wagRicky Wagner OT, Ravens

Would instantly fill the right tackle spot and be a HUGE upgrade. Wagner at the ripe age of 27 years old has slowly become one of the best right tackles in the entire league. He still has a good 3-4 years left in the tank and would be welcomed with open arms. I actually see the Vikings as a one of the top contenders for his service come Thursday, so while this is a big boy signing it is absolutely possible.

Kevin Zeitler G, Bengals

Zeitler is the best guard available in free agency, hands down. Like Wagner this would be a game changing signing for the offensive line. Zeitler is still young at the age of 26, and still has plenty left in the tank. Zimmer has familiarity with the former Wisconsin Badger which could give him a leg up … they just need to be willing to pony up on the high price that he will command.

Tony Jefferson S, Cardinals

Let me be clear from the start, the chances of the Vikings tossing a ton of money at the safety position when they have greater needs is slim to none. But remember, this is a “Holy Sh!t” type of signing we are talking about. Jefferson is one of the better safeties in the league and pairing him up with the Hitman would be magical. At only 25 years of age the Cards simply can’t afford to bring him back and where ever he lands, he will have a huge impact on their secondary.

The “Still Sexy But More Realistic” Possibilities

Here we have the signings that don’t get as much love but usually end up being the better signings. These guys fly mildly under the radar but are still considered better than average, they just don’t get the buzz to go along with it….. aka Chester Taylor.

murrayLatavius Murray RB, Raiders

Murray to the Vikings picked up steam immediately after it was announced AP would be hitting the free agent market. Murray has been a good not great running back during his time in the league. He has managed to put up some good numbers, but has also been behind a very good offensive line. His main attraction to the Vikings is his great ability to pass block … but what he is going to command in $$$, I just don’t see it being worth it, especially with the talent at RB in the upcoming draft.

Riley Reiff OT, Lions

Former 1st round pick Reiff has the ability to play either left OR right tackle which makes him extra appealing. Minnesota has gotten to know the big man quite a bit during his time in the league, and like Kalil he has had his ups and downs. He has enough talent to get himself a good chunk of change this free agency and I see him as a real possibility if the Vikings miss out on any targeted top guys (Wagner, Okung)

Larry Warford G, Lions

I gotta be honest, it is a toss-up on who I would rather have when it comes to Zeitler or Warford. Warford is only 25 years old and has a total of 57 starts under his belt during his time in the NFL. I would consider him an above average guard who has really yet to meet his potential, while it is a bold statement, I think the Warford signing could make as big of an impact as the Steve Hutchinson signing from years past.

The Just …. “Sure OK ” … Possibilities

These are the guys that don’t really get you excited, but deep down you know they have a shot to contribute and help the team. I compare this group to the mid-rounds of the draft, this is where you can find the hidden gems, aka, Tom Johnson.

fairleyNick Fairley DT, New Orleans Saints

I have loved Fairley ever since his days at Auburn, while he hasn’t lived up to his hype coming out he has proven to be a late bloomer. He notched 6.5 sacks last year in part-time duty and might have finally reached his stride. Pairing him up with Linval Joseph and (if healthy) Sharrif Floyd, Minnesota would have a pretty damn solid group of interior lineman. I would LOVE to see what Zimmer could do with this guy.

Austin Pasztor, OT, Browns

Pasztor is a 26 year old right tackle who has started 43 games over his career. While I think a guy like Pasztor would be an instant starter with the group the Vikings currently have, I wouldn’t consider him a game changer. I see him more of a stop-gap until the Vikings groom the rookies they draft in the coming years.

Andre Ellington RB, Cardinals

Ellington showed promise early in his career but after some injuries ended up buried on the depth chart behind David Johnson and Chris Johnson. Ellington is a homerun type runner who can take it to the house on any touch. He can be an explosive player at times makes plays in the run and pass game. But don’t let me sugar coat it too much, he is a low-risk/high-reward type of guy out to prove that he can be a number 1 back in the NFL.

The “Head scratching What The” Possibilities

These are the signings that either make you physically ill …. or just boggle your damn mind. The signings that don’t get you excited and are usually casualties come final cuts … the crap shoot signings, aka, Taylor Mays.

ljLuke Joeckel, G/OT, Jaguars or Chance Warmack, Titans

Here are a few guys that are former top picks in the draft who will be looking for new homes. Both haven’t even come close to living up to their hype, but still have the intrigue and potential to turn their careers around. I honestly love signings like this, you get a young guy who is hungry to prove people wrong, worst case they get beat out by a better player and don’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Christine Michael RB, Packers

Vikings tried to put a claim on him when he was available but were sniped by the Packers. So we know the interest is there, and we absolutely know the Vikings will be looking for depth at the running back position. But Michael is just a guy who has never lived up to his potential, he would be on a prove-it deal and would be pushing just to make the roster.

Geno Smith QB, Jets

Truth is the Vikings need more bodies at quarterback. Teddy won’t see the field in ’17 and Shaun Hill is a free agent that nobody expects back. Smith fits the mold, he is a younger guy coming off his 1st contract who could add depth on the cheap. Minnesota wouldn’t be a horrible spot for Smith to land, get him out of the lime light and allow him to just concentrate on being a back-up in the NFL.

 

 

 

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