Greatest picture ever? Greatest picture ever.
Vikings defacto GM Rick Spielman said he has a 'pretty good idea' who the Vikings are going to target once free agency begins. And I have no doubt, as Minnesota has been one of the better teams in acquiring free agents and re-signing young talent since 2006, the year Spielman was hired to be one third of the now infamous Triangle of Authority.
Obviously, no one really knows what's going to be in the new CBA, and what the terms will be to consider someone a restricted free agent, and unrestricted free agent, or whether or not the franchise and transition tags will be back. But we can still make some educated guesses as to which of their own players the Vikings will target.
I think Ray Edwards gets a long term contract extension and will be back for the Vikings.
I know Ray Edwards has said things that make it seem unlikely he will return to the Vikings. But all of that comes down to 'respect'. And of course by 'respect', I mean 'money'.
Has Edwards been slighted? Yes, but not by the Vikings. Edwards has been, for a large part, a victim of the nebulous labor situation. When the labor deal was nullified by the owners, Edwards had been set to be an unrestricted free agent, but that nullification caused his status to change to restricted free agent. The Vikings, not having to pay a guy before they had to, made a smart business decision by tendering him as a restricted guy. That upset Edwards, and rightly so. He went from what he thought was going to be a big pay day with a signing bonus north of $10 million, to something substantially less than that. It was still a pisspot of money, but when you get 80% less than what you thought you were going to make, it's going to hurt.
Spielman and company have done a good job at retaining young, productive players, and Edwards has definitely been that. He has had 16.5 sacks over the last two seasons, and has been a consistent force off of the left end. The Vikings will need Edwards and Jared Allen to be productive and carry the line through the first quarter of the season, as Kevin WIlliams will be suspended and Pat WIlliams will probably not be back.
The Vikings know that, and I don't see Brian Robison and Everson Griffen being able to replace what Edwards has to offer.
When free agency does begin, I think the Vikings will offer Edwards a very fair deal to retain him, and if they aren't ridiculously overbid, he will be back.