With Thursday’s news that left guard Nick Easton will be headed to injured reserve with a bulging disc in his neck, it’s worth wondering if the Minnesota Vikings will look outside the organization for help. In 2015, they acquired Easton and Jeremiah Sirles in trades to bolster the offensive line depth. Currently, they have two starters besides Easton missing practice in Pat Elflein (ankle/shoulder) and Mike Remmers (ankle).
Head coach Mike Zimmer said the team is examining all of its free agent options. “We’re looking at all free agent areas, really,” he said. “That’s what those guys do at night. They come in here and watch other teams, they watch guys on the street.”
Spotrac.com lists 15 available guards at the moment. While it might be more likely the Vikings would wait for a player to get waived on roster-cut day — or attempt a trade in the near future — let’s see if any of the current free agents make sense for the Vikings.
MAYBE WORTH A CALL
Jahri Evans: At 34 years old, Evans may be past his prime, but the veteran still posted a top-20 pass-blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus, allowing just two sacks in 14 games with the Green Bay Packers last year. His knowledge of the rival Packers might be enviable to the Vikings.
Allen Barbre: Barbre has a very Joe Berger-like career arc in that he started 30 games in the last three years after starting just eight games in his first seven years. Played for the Packers, Seahawks, Eagles and Broncos. Much better at run blocking than pass blocking in 2017.
Zane Beadles: Didn’t miss a start between 2011 and 2016 with the Broncos, Jaguars and 49ers. His play declined in 2017 in a rotational role, and he was released in May. Has familiarity with Vikings offensive line co-coach Clancy Barone.
WATCH THEIR FILM, PERHAPS?
Luke Joeckel: The former first-round pick has 50 career starts for Jacksonville and Seattle, but he ranked 84th in pass blocking efficiency last year with the Seahawks, per PFF. Also lost the better part of the 2013 and 2016 seasons due to injury.
Jeff Allen: Started 26 games the last two years for the Houston Texans but was placed on the PUP and eventually released with an injury settlement. Graded poorly in pass blocking (91st) and run blocking (84th) last season.
Anthony Steen: Coming off season-ending foot surgery in Miami. Better against the run than the pass last year when he played, according to PFF. Started 13 games over the last two seasons with the Dolphins.
Orlando Franklin: Cut by the Chargers before last season and couldn’t crack the rotation with the Saints or Redskins but does have 89 career starts. Allowed 30 hurries in 2016 when he started 16 games with the Chargers.
SOME NAMES YOU MIGHT RECOGNIZE, BUT NO
Joe Berger: Even though he announced his retirement in the offseason, the Vikings reportedly reached out to former starter Joe Berger, but the ex-Viking said he would be staying retired.
Alex Boone: Minnesota cut Boone prior to the 2017 season while he still had three years left on his contract. If the Vikings didn’t value Boone then, it’s hard to imagine a reunion now.
David Yankey: Has only taken 21 offensive snaps in the league since being drafted by the Vikings in 2014. Finished out his rookie contract on injured reserve with the Panthers after a back injury.
VERY, VERY, VERY UNLIKELY
Richie Incognito: Nope. Mike Zimmer quickly shot down any rumors of Minnesota’s interest in the controversial Incognito earlier in the week, saying “No interest and totally false.”
Donavon Clark: A former seventh-round pick, Clark spent his first two seasons on IR in San Diego/Los Angeles and has never played a down in the league.
Chris Barker: Has taken just four offensive snaps in his five-year NFL career.
Dan France: Has not played a down in the league since going undrafted in 2014 and bouncing around with three teams.
Bryce Johnson: An undrafted rookie out of St. Cloud State, he was waived by the Cowboys earlier in the week.