Disclaimer: The Vikings are not likely to be huge spenders in free agency. GM Rick Spielman was aggressive in targeting some mid-level players last season who could fit the team’s needs and profile, and they were moves that had mixed results at best.
But the team could choose to attack needy positions such as receiver. What the club will do with Percy Harvin remains unknown, but its first instinct is likely to let things cool down with Harvin and assume he’ll be back. If trouble arises, perhaps then the team can change course with regard to a trade. For now, we’ll assume Harvin will be a Viking in 2013.
That said, wideout is still a glaring need. Despite Harvin’s early-season (pre-injury) heroics, Adrian Peterson’s incredible season and TE Kyle Rudolph’s mini-breakout, more help for QB Christian Ponder is sorely needed. The Vikings thought WR Jerome Simpson would alleviate their need for a field-tilting weapon. Other than a few early pass-interference calls drawn, he was rendered mostly moot, plagued by drops and mental lapses.
The draft most certainly will be one way to target help for the position. But could free agency be another route? The Vikings are in salary-cap comfort now with more than $16 million in space (they carried over nearly $8 million from last season) and could spend right up to it for the right players. Harvin and his long-term deal likely must wait given all he and the team have been through, and he still has another year left on his contract.
Could the Vikings go after Green Bay’s Greg Jennings, Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe or Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace, for instance? It’s not an insane idea, although Bowe perhaps doesn’t quite possess what the Vikings need: deep speed. Wallace seemingly would fit that bill, although his inconsistent season in 2012 is a bit concerning. In fact, all three played less than their best ball last season, and all were plagued by injury. Jennings might not be the dynamic force he was in recent years and turns 30 next September.
Another, cheaper option to keep in mind: Colts WR Donnie Avery, whose deep speed might not be as useful in Indy’s more West Coast-based system they are implementing. Avery was a surprise performer and helped Andrew Luck develop in Year One.
The draft is the most likely vehicle to drive the Vikings to more WR help. But free agency can’t be overlooked.