The decision to fully guarantee Kirk Cousins’ contract didn’t pay off for the Minnesota Vikings, who missed the playoffs after falling one game short of the Super Bowl in 2017, making this offseason a make or break one in Minneapolis.
If ever there seemed to be a good fit between free agent and team, it was Kirk Cousins with the Vikings last offseason. Case Keenum had given the Vikings solid quarterback play, but Cousins represented the rare opportunity to add a free agent in his prime at the game’s most important position.
Some people even felt that Cousins could be the modern day equivalent of Drew Brees, leaving one team (San Diego) after being under appreciated while taking his new squad (New Orleans) to the top of the league. Things didn’t work out this way in year one, with Cousins putting up good numbers (70.1% completions, 4,298 yards, 30 touchdowns, 10 interceptions) but the Vikings regressed to 8-7-1 and missed the postseason.
The downside of Cousins’ fully guaranteed contract is that it leaves the Vikings hard up for cap space, with Minnesota projected to have just under $7 million to spend at the moment. The Vikings can create more salary cap room by restructuring deals with high priced veterans like Everson Griffen, Kyle Rudolph, and Mike Remmers but they need to use that money wisely to improve the holes on their roster.
Minnesota has clear deficiencies in the trenches to address, so it is no surprise that our list of top free agent targets should start there.
5. LT Trent Brown
The Vikings need to work on their offensive line, and one of the bigger disappointments on it has been current left tackle Riley Reiff. Reiff was ineffective protecting Cousins’ blindside in 2018, and Andrew Kramer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes that the team is considering moving Reiff inside to fill the left guard spot.
The move should help the Vikings get more out of Reiff, who may be better suited to an interior line position like Rodger Saffold was with the Los Angeles Rams. Current starter Tom Compton is a free agent, so the Vikings could let him walk and plug Reiff in there, but that would create a hole at left tackle.
This is where Brown, who revived his career in New England, fits in. Brown stepped in for the Patriots after 2018 first rounder Isaiah Wynn tore his Achilles’ tendon in the pre-season and thrived as New England went on to win the Super Bowl.
The 25 year old Brown is going to be a free agent, and with New England tight on cap space they may opt to let Brown go since they have Wynn waiting in the wings. The Vikings saw how poor line play disrupted their season a year ago, and adding Brown would be a massive boost to the unit.