Vikings

What Will Happen With Griffen, Kline and Other Former Minnesota Vikings Who Have Yet to Sign With a Team?

Dec 15, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) works against Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry (86) during the first quarter at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings re-signed many of their own free agents this offseason. They also brought in a couple of new faces in Michael Pierce, Tajae Sharpe and Anthony Zettel. The Vikings also had a handful of players sign on with new teams this season. There are, however, five former Vikings who have yet to sign on with any team. Today, we’ll take a look at those players and see why they still may be available and gauge their chances of signing with a new club before the start of the 2020 season.

Everson Griffen

Everson Griffen was widely assumed to be re-signing with the Vikings in 2020. He opted out of his contract, which made him a free agent, and the thought was the team would sign him to a deal that was more friendly to their cap situation. Mike Zimmer even spoke at the combine and expressed his confidence that Griffen would be back. The talks soon fell apart and Griffen thanked fans on social media for their support over the years and said goodbye to the Vikings organization.

It’s surprising that Griffen has yet to sign on with a team. He showed last year that he’s still got plenty of good football left in him. He’s coming off an eight-sack season and showed plenty of explosiveness off the snap. He was consistently in the backfield and terrorized quarterbacks like it was 2014 all over again. Griffen was reportedly close to signing with the Seahawks and then Dallas but has yet to ink a deal with any club.

So why is Griffen still available? The answer is probably due to his age. Despite showing he still has plenty to give, Griffen is 32 years old. A team isn’t going to invest heavily in him at that age, and perhaps his agent is telling him to hold out for a better or longer deal, instead of signing a short-term deal with a team in need of pass-rush help.

Will Griffen play for a team this season? The answer is assuredly a yes. Once the NFL gets the OK that teams can return to camp this season, Griffen’s market should heat up. As he proved with his eight sacks last year, he can still play and there are plenty of contending teams that could use pass rush help. Griffen can have the pick of the litter and play for either a coach he’s familiar with, or try to get that ring with a team that should be in the thick of the playoff hunt.

David Morgan

David Morgan missed the entire 2019 season because of a knee injury. He was drafted by the Vikings back in 2016 and was kind of a coaches’ favorite. He was a good special teams player and also was an exceptional blocker, who took on the H-back role of a hybrid fullback/tight end. Morgan also showed good hands and usually caught the ball the rare times he saw a target in a game. The Vikings ended up releasing him this past March, as they have plenty of young talent at the position and don’t have room for a 27-year-old tight end with an injury history.

Why is Morgan still available? It’s because of that knee injury. Morgan isn’t exactly a receiving threat and hasn’t played a meaningful snap since 2018. No team is going to invest in him with his lack of production and questionable health.

Will Morgan play for an NFL team in 2020? Probably. Morgan’s best chance to sign on with a new club is if another team’s starting tight end or key depth player goes down with an injury. Teams could then scan the waiver wire and see who is available. Morgan is an elite blocking tight end, and that could be enough for a team to show interest. If he can pass a physical, he’ll likely be wearing new colors at some point in 2020.

Josh Kline

Josh Kline was a free agent signing for the Vikings in 2019 and immediately started at right guard. He played extremely well and was able to open up holes for Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison in the run game and did well anchoring against the pass rush. Despite his solid play, the Vikings cut him this offseason to save a paltry $1 million dollars. Despite his solid season in purple, Kline has yet to sign on with another team.

Why is Kline still available? The answer to this is probably for two reasons: He suffered multiple concussions a season ago, which cost him a few games, and he’s 30. While he’s still got a few years left in him, the combination of his age and concussion history is enough for teams to look at other options.

Will Kline play in 2020? Probably. Josh Kline was too good a season ago to not play this year. He was the Vikings’ second-best offensive lineman and should get a chance with some team. There’s even the possibility that Kline returns to the Vikings this season if their youth movement at guard doesn’t work out. Kline could also choose not to play this year and turn down an offer from a team. Players have been more mindful of their long-term health, and the fact he suffered numerous concussions a season ago could be enough for him to decide to be done playing in the league.

KENTRELL BROTHERS

Kentrell Brothers was a fifth-round pick of the Vikings in 2016. Despite a stellar collegiate career where he racked up over 350 career tackles, Brothers couldn’t find similar success in the NFL. Brothers has only registered 55 career tackles in the NFL and has only started one game in his four-year career. While Brothers hasn’t been a great asset to the Vikings’ defense, he has been a key special teams player and was a standout in that area. Despite the proficiency on special teams, Brothers wasn’t offered a contract by an NFL team in the offseason.

Why is Brothers still available? The answer to that is that he just isn’t very good. Brothers hasn’t been able to crack the Vikings starting lineup in four seasons in the league. Playing behind Eric Kendricks hasn’t helped his cause, but Brothers hasn’t been able to cash in on the opportunities he’s been given.

Will Kentrell Brothers play in 2020? That really depends. He clearly didn’t generate a lot of interest this offseason, so his perception around the league can’t be all that great. If a team has some injuries at linebacker in camp this season, they could give Brothers a call. Otherwise, his time in the league could be coming to an end.

MARCUS SHERELS

The last Minnesota Viking who hasn’t landed with a team yet is Marcus Sherels. The former Vikings, Dolphins and Saints cornerback and punt returner didn’t generate a ton of interest in the 2020 offseason. It makes sense, too. Sherels isn’t a very good cornerback. Any time he was pressed into action on defense he struggled. It was his ability as a returner that kept him in the NFL since 2010, as he’s totaled 2,503 punt return yards and 1,416 kick return yards in his career. He’s also taken five punts to the house and was a major spark on special teams for the Vikings for many seasons.

Why is Sherels still available? His age. Sherels is 32, and it is starting to show. While he came back to the Vikings twice last season when they were hit with injuries to punt returners, he just didn’t have the same wiggle and burst he showed in recent seasons. If Sherels can’t be a top punt returner anymore, his playing days are all but done.

Will Sherels play in 2020? Never say never. While it’s unlikely any team will give Sherels a deal after he’s bounced around the league and spent much of the past season as a free agent, there’s a chance he could get a call at some point. The Vikings have gone back to the Sherels well numerous times, and if their returners are hit with injuries yet again this season, they could call up the old man and see if he’s up for one last go around in purple.

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Free Agency vs. the Draft: Assessing the Minnesota Vikings' Approach to Improving Their Offensive Line

Dec 15, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) works against Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry (86) during the first quarter at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have tried throwing hefty contracts at free-agent offensive linemen. More recently, Minnesota adjusted its philosophy and devoted draft capital to building their offensive front. Which has worked better, and what’s the plan going forward?

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