Tuesday marked the first day of free agency in the National Football League, and the money was flying around fast and furious. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the St. Louis Rams to re-unite with his former head coach, Jeff Fisher. Wide receivers also cashed in, as Pierre Garcon and Vincent Jackson cashed in with the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively.
Much to the chagrin of many of their loyal fans, the Minnesota Vikings did not make any signings in the opening hours of free agency. While the faithful might not have gotten the immediate gratification of one of the biggest names available wearing a hat with their team's logo on it, such a strategy is really the most beneficial route for the Vikings to take at this point.
With over 500 players hitting the free agent market on Tuesday afternoon, the Vikings will undoubtedly get involved in the process at some point in time. But, as a team that is not "one player away" from contending, their best bet is to wait until the most outrageous sums of money finish getting thrown around and going after more reasonably priced additions to their roster. How outrageous has the money gotten so far?
The three players I mentioned in the first paragraph were all signed to five-year contracts. The combined value of those contracts? $147.5 million. . .$55 million for Jackson, $50 million for Finnegan, and $42.5 million for Garcon. Now, don't get me wrong, I think Pierre Garcon would have been a nice get for the Minnesota Vikings. But Pierre Garcon is not, quite frankly, a $42.5 million receiver (particularly with $21.5 of that $42.5 million coming in the form of guaranteed money) Now, that's not all guaranteed money, but it's still an outrageous amount of cash that gets thrown around in the opening hours of free agency. As a Viking fan, I don't want them giving that kind of money to guys that, in all likelihood, won't be around when the rebuilding process finally starts bearing fruit in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Vikings have a lot of holes to fill on their current roster, and approximately $25 million in salary cap space to fill them all with. With 16 of the players from last year's roster reaching free agency (the team did re-sign backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels and defensive tackle Letroy Guion before Tuesday's deadline), there are going to be plenty of new faces on the sidelines at the Metrodome for the 2012 season. But Rick Spielman and company are not going to be in the business of throwing ridiculous amounts of money at players who, by and large, aren't worth those ridiculous amounts of money.
The Vikings will get some free agents, but their main focus should be to "win" the 2012 NFL Draft. In the National Football League, free agency is for patching the proverbial holes, while the draft is for building for the long-term. This current Minnesota roster has too many holes to simply patch, and they know that. It's something that Viking fans, many of whom have never seen a real, long-term rebuilding project, are going to have to accept before going crazy about the team's lack of activity in the first day of free agent action.