Free agency is underway and there already have been plenty of huge deals given out to players who will be playing in new cities in 2020.
The Minnesota Vikings have extended some players and traded away a star receiver, but have yet to bring in any new faces. They did add some cap room with the recent moves they’ve made, but are still unlikely to be very active, especially in this first wave of free agency.
That being said, they do have plenty of holes to fill on the offensive side of the football and here is a free agent fix for each one.
Cedric Ogbuehi, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tackle
The Vikings would love to find the heir apparent to Riley Reiff either in the upcoming draft or in free agency. With their limited budget, they are better off finding the long term answer this April, but could look for an economically-priced free agent with some upside and a guy like Ogbuehi could be enticing.
Ogbuehi is a former first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals. He missed the majority of his rookie season as he was coming off an ACL injury and only appeared in five games. Though he’s had 25 starts in his career, he has yet to regain the form that made him the 21st overall pick in 2015. Ogbuehi has the size and athletic ability to be a quality starting left tackle in the league, he just needs to regain his confidence.
Perhaps he just needs to find the right fit and get the right coaching staff to light a fire under his butt and help him reach his potential.
If the Vikings were to sign Ogbuehi, it wouldn’t prevent them from taking a tackle prospect early in the draft. What it could do would be to make Reiff expendable if they thought Ogbuehi and a rookie could adequately man the left tackle position. That would free up cap space for the team to extend a guy like Dalvin Cook or Ifeadi Odenigbo next season.
Mike Iupati, Seattle Seahawks, Guard
The Vikings could look to the Seattle Seahawks to provide a short-term fix for their offensive line woes. Pat Elflein‘s struggles a season ago are well-documented. He was consistently the reason Kirk Cousins was taking hits, or why there were yellow flags on the field after the Vikings ran a play. They can’t roll him back out there again in 2020.
Now, the Vikings do have last year’s fourth-round pick Dru Samia waiting in the wings. It was a little concerning that he was only active a couple of games last year but when he did finally get in and took some live reps, he looked good. He could be the long-term solution. The question is whether or not he’ll be ready by the start of next season. If he isn’t and the team wants a short-term upgrade, they could look to this ageless wonder.
Iupati is 32 years old and still playing at a high level. He’s spent his entire career playing out on the West Coast for the 49ers, Cardinals and the Seahawks. It would be odd to see him leave that division but perhaps playing with an offense loaded with star talent would be enough to make him try something new. Iupati is an aggressive road-grader type of blocker. He can overpower defensive tackles and move them out of the way, creating big holes for Cook and company to run through.
He’s also stout in pass protection and would be a huge upgrade over Elflein in that area. Iupati only cost the Seahawks $2.75 million last season, and the Vikings, even with their limited funds, could afford that. He’d be a great fill-in option for a year while the team continues to groom Samia to be the long term answer.
Brett Hundley, Arizona Cardinals, Quarterback
The Vikings’ recent track record at bringing in backup quarterbacks isn’t a sexy one. Though they hit on Case Keenum in 2017, the guys they’ve chosen after haven’t exactly inspired confidence. Trevor Siemian and Sean Mannion are below-average NFL quarterbacks who were only brought in because of their cheap price tag. It makes sense though, because if Cousins was to get injured for an extended period of time, the Vikings season would be all but lost unless something crazy happened like the Keenum year.
The Vikings would’ve liked to have landed a slight upgrade at backup quarterback with a guy like Keenum or Chase Daniel but surprisingly they were both snapped up fairly quickly, as Keenum was reunited with Kevin Stefanski in Cleveland and Daniel joined the Lions. That leaves very undesirable choices left and the Vikings will have to settle for another mediocre option. If they don’t bring back Mannion for peanuts, they could go with a guy who has slightly more upside in Hundley.
Hundley has been far from great in his NFL career so far. He played the most in 2017 after Anthony Barr took out Aaron Rodgers in that completely legal hit. That year he started nine games, throwing for 1,836 yards with nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. That came out to a 70.6 quarterback ranking — or in short, not terribly good.
Hundley isn’t a runner but can get yardage on the ground if he needs to. He is still only 26 years old and there is some upside with him. Whoever the Vikings backup quarterback is in 2020 isn’t going to be a name that gets fans excited, so getting a guy like Hundley could be the best Vikings fans can hope for.
Devin Funchess, Indianapolis Colts, Wide Receiver
The Vikings now can add wide receiver to their list of major needs. They traded disgruntled star Stefon Diggs to the Bills and now need to find not only a young stud to pair with Adam Thielen, but also have to round out the rest of their depth chart. With the 2020 NFL Draft being very wide receiver rich, they could find most of the help they need there. They should look to bring in at least one veteran and they could look at Funchess, who has most recently played with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Vikings receiving corps lacks one thing — size. Their tallest starting receiver is around 6’2″, and while that is by no means short, they don’t have a guy who is built to go up and outmuscle a defender for the football.
That is something Funchess can do. He’s 6’4″ and 225 pounds. He could be a very viable red-zone target for the Vikings, giving Cousins another option there in addition to Kyle Rudolph. Funchess has never really lived up to his potential and that is why he could come in at a cap-friendly price for the Purple.
The former second-round pick’s best season was in 2017 when he caught 63 balls for 840 yards with eight touchdowns, so he can clearly produce in the NFL. Since then he’s caught just 44 passes with four touchdowns.
In his defense, he missed a large portion of last season with a collarbone injury but that could work to the Vikings advantage, as it could also keep his asking price at a reasonable and affordable number. The Vikings are likely going to add at least one wide receiver in free agency, and Funchess could be an intriguing option with some upside.