The 2014 NFL season has officially begun – the free agency market officially opened on March 11. Now is when teams begin to release old players and sign new ones in preparation for the playing season. The Minnesota Vikings began their 2014 season on a high note.
The Vikings went into the free agent market with a great deal of money available for them to spend, and they didn’t hesitate to use that money. Prior to the official start of free agency, the Vikings resigned Defensive End Everson Griffin to a five-year contract reported to be worth $42.5 million, according to Sports Illustrated.
The same day, the Vikings resigned Quarterback Matt Cassel to a two year contract reported to be worth $10 million, according to the NFL website. This was a big move for the Vikings, as it added another quarterback to their roster. Prior to signing Cassel, the Vikings only had one quarterback on the team, Christian Ponder. According to the same NFL site, Cassel threw 11 touchdowns and 1,807 yards in the nine games that he played.
Since the Vikings’ free agency began, it’s become clear that the team is focused on rebuilding their defense. Despite releasing Defensive Linemen Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, the Vikings have made some significant deals with players to improve their defense, which was one of the worst defenses in the league last year.
In its first significant signing for their defense, the Vikings signed former New York Giants Defensive Tackle, Linval Joseph. According to ESPN, Joseph and the Vikings agreed to a five year contract worth $31.5 million. This was a great move for the Vikings as they added a player who was productive for the Giants during his four-year tenure with the team. Joseph will bring a tough, physical presence to this defensive line. According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, Joseph’s primary role was to help stop the run in a 4-3-defense system. Joseph did well in this role and also managed to add pressure to opposing quarterbacks during his time with the Giants.
After signing Joseph, the Vikings set their sights on making improvements at the defensive back position. They accomplished that by signing former North Carolina Panthers Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. The deal was reported to be worth $15 Million over three years, according to NFL Insider’s Ian Raporport. Munnerlyn is coming from a team that was one of the top defenses in the NFL in 2013. Munnerlyn is a threat to offenses who throw in his direction due to his ability to make interceptions and score on those opportunities. According the NFL website, Munnerlyn has seven interceptions with five touchdowns. Munnerlyn is also a durable player as he’s played in 14-16 games a season. The Vikings also resigned Former San Diego Chargers Cornerback Derek Cox to a one year contract. These two additions should add some much needed depth to what was a weak Viking’s secondary.
The Vikings have been busy this offseason, but General Manager Rick Spielman made it clear that the team is not done making significant offseason pick-up, according to the Associated Press.
The Vikings haven’t been the only team busy gathering free agents this offseason. In fact, their division rivals have also made some significant additions, as well. The Green Bay Packers signed former Chicago Bears Defensive Lineman Julius Peppers to a three year contract. In addition to Peppers, the Packers resigned Defensive Tackle B.J. Raji and Running Back James Starks. The Chicago Bears signed former Oakland Raiders’ Defensive Lineman Lamarr Houston, former Packers Safety M.D. Jennings, and the Viking’s very own Defensive End Jared Allen.
Outside of the NFC North, many other NFL teams have made some big free agent signings to help improve their teams. The 2013 AFC Champion Denver Broncos signed Defensive Lineman DeMarcus Ware to a three year deal. In addition, the 2013 NFC and Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks signed Defensive End Michael Bennett to a four year contract.
Some of the other popular free agency pick-ups in the NFL, include the New York Jets signing Quarterback Michael Vick, the New England Patriots signing Cornerback Darrelle Revis, and the Oakland Raiders trade with the Houston Texans for Quarterback Matt Schaub.
There are bound to be plenty more roster moves made prior to the 2014 NFL season, including the NFL draft, which will take place May 8 through May 10. It may be the offseason, but this is still an exciting time for NFL fans as their teams add players to make their teams better. Follow your favorite NFL teams throughout the offseason to see what big moves they make in preparation for the 2014 NFL season.