<
>

Free-agency review: Vikings

Most significant signing: Unless you count the trade for Miami Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace -- and for the purposes of this post, we won't -- your only choices are backup quarterback Shaun Hill or one of the role players the Minnesota Vikings re-signed. In a fairly quiet first week of free agency for the Vikings, we'll go with defensive tackle Tom Johnson, who received a new three-year, $7 million deal from the team after posting 6 1/2 sacks a year ago. Johnson, who signed a one-year deal in 2014, proved to be a slippery pass-rusher in the Vikings' nickel package. Wallace is one of the fastest receivers in the NFL, and gives the Vikings the pure deep threat they had been lacking. It's up to a veteran triumvirate of coaches -- head coach Mike Zimmer, offensive coordinator Norv Turner and wide receivers coach George Stewart -- to work with him after he fell out of favor in Miami.

Most significant loss: Again, unless we're counting Greg Jennings (whom the Vikings released on Saturday), there aren't many major names. The Vikings already had locked up their top pending unrestricted free agents for 2015, signing tight end Kyle Rudolph and guard Brandon Fusco to contract extensions. The biggest loss might be linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys. He did a decent job against the run, and the Vikings now have to find a new middle linebacker, but they had shown only lukewarm interest in bringing Brinkley back. As for Jennings, he seemed to click with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater toward the end of the season, but probably wasn't going to be back at his $11 million cap figure for 2015. Since the sides couldn't work out a restructured deal, the Vikings could make Jarius Wright a full-time slot receiver in Jennings' absence.

Biggest surprise: The Vikings have mostly kept to their plan of shopping the bargain rack in free agency, staying out of serious contention for the top prizes on the open market. Their interest in former Buccaneers defensive end Michael Johnson was noteworthy in the sense that the Vikings appeared willing to commit significant dollars at a position where they already have two players (Everson Griffen and Brian Robison) scheduled to take up $13.9 million of cap room in 2015. But Johnson's long history with Zimmer and his status as a "street free agent" after being released by the Buccaneers still put him squarely within the Vikings' blueprint. Street free agents don't hurt the Vikings' chances at compensatory picks, and even though the team hasn't suffered any significant defections, the cumulative loss of Brinkley, fullback Jerome Felton and quarterback Christian Ponder might net the Vikings an extra selection. At the very least, the team certainly can't hurt its chances at an extra 2016 draft choice if it picks up a prominent player who has been released.

What's next: There are still needs at a number of positions, such as safety, middle linebacker and left guard, and the Vikings clearly are in the market for additional help at defensive end, after talking to Tampa Bay's Adrian Clayborn and Dallas' George Selvie, among others, in addition to Johnson. They will sift through the remaining players on the market to address some of those needs, and it wouldn't be a shock to see them pursue another cornerback. The Vikings pick 11th in the draft, and could go a number of different directions. The highest order of business, though, is figuring out the future of Adrian Peterson, with whom the Vikings are trying to mend fences before he can be reinstated next month. The Vikings remain in contact with Peterson, who told ESPN last month that he was "still uneasy" about returning to Minnesota, but general manager Rick Spielman said on Friday night that the team has no additional meetings scheduled with Peterson.