With the official start of free agency looming in roughly 24 hours, the Vikings have only agreed to deals with a pair of their own free agents. But they continue to have discussions with the agents of players from other teams. One of the positions they have been targeting is at left guard.
The Vikings released starting left guard Charlie Johnson two weeks ago and Joe Berger and Vlad Ducasse, a pair of veteran backups, are scheduled to hit free agency tomorrow afternoon. So the left guard position, perhaps the weakest spot on the offensive line in 2014, is an obvious need heading info free agency.
The Vikings have expressed some interest in bringing Berger back, but a deal is not imminent, according to a league source. It is unclear if the team sees Berger, who will turn 33 in May, as a potential starter in 2015 or if they want him to resume his role as a valuable backup who can play all three interior positions in a pinch. He ended up starting nine games in that role last season.
The top guards in free agency are considered to be Mike Iupati, Orlando Franklin and Clint Boling. But Iupati is reportedly signing with the Cardinals and Franklin is joining the Chargers.
Still, Boling is an intriguing option. While he does not have the accolades of Iupati, a three-time Pro Bowler, the former Bengal is a good run blocker who would likely come cheaper than Iupati.
Plus, it probably doesn’t hurt that Mike Zimmer was on Cincinnati’s staff his first three seasons.
Boling, 25, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2011. He has been a full-time starter for them since 2012 and has started 47 games in his career. Most of those starts were at left guard.
Other free-agent options include Justin Blalock, James Carpenter and Dan Connolly. Or if the Vikings don’t sign a starting guard in free agency, they could look in next month’s NFL draft for someone who can compete with second-year guard David Yankey, who did not play as a rookie.
In other news, the Vikings have also stayed in touch with the veteran quarterback Shaun Hill and maintain interest in signing him to back up second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater. But they aren’t the only team that is interested in Hill, who reportedly has a few suitors.
Additionally, the Vikings must decide by tomorrow what to do with restricted free agents in running back Matt Asiata, offensive tackle Mike Harris and linebacker Dom DeCicco. The expectation is that Asiata and Harris will be tendered — I’m not sure about DeCicco — though there is a chance that the Vikings could agree on a new contract with Asiata, a player the coaching staff is fond of, first.
What else do the Vikings need to do beyond finding a starting left guard and a backup quarterback? Check out Mark Craig’s offseason to-do list in our Access Vikings free agency tracker blog post.
The Vikings have reached a one-year deal with restricted free agent Matt Asiata, according to a league source. The deal will give the running back an opportunity to make more through incentives.
While Asiata’s role for 2015 is uncertain due to the Adrian Peterson situation, the Vikings like what the 27-year-old brings to the table. Last season, Asiata was trusted to be a pass protector, the goal-line back and the guy they gave the ball to when they couldn’t afford a fumble. If a player can do many things — and is willing to do them at a reasonable price — why not keep him around?
Last season, Asiata started in nine of his 15 games and rushed for 570 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns. He also caught 44 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown. He lost one fumble.
In his Vikings career, Asiata, who at one point was a fullback here, has rushed for 745 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has averaged 3.5 yards per carry during his three seasons on the active roster.
The Vikings now have two remaining restricted free agents that they must choose whether to tender by tomorrow afternoon. They are swing tackle Mike Harris and linebacker Dom DeCicco.