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Before free-agency, Vikings' 2014 schedule looks favorable

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Before we get to the answer as to why the Minnesota Vikings have a favorable schedule next season, first know that every NFL team's roster could change dramatically between now and the start of the 2014 season.

NFL free-agency begins with teams getting a chance to meet with free agents between March 8-10. On March 11, the door to signing unrestricted free agents and making contract offers to restricted free agents will be wide open. Players will surely move around.

The Vikings, according to Sports Illustrated have quite a few players considered "key free agents." They include QB Matt Cassell, QB Josh Freeman, RB Toby Gerhart, WR Jerome Simpson, WR Joe Webb, OG Charlie Johnson, DE Jared Allen, DE Everson Griffen, DT Kevin Williams and DB Chris Cook.

It is SI.com writer Doug Farrar's belief that Minnesota should let all but Gerhart, Johnson and Griffen leave.

Though Gerhart may want to see if he can become a starting back out of Adrian Peterson’s shadow, other teams may see him as limited. Johnson played over 1,000 snaps at a league-average level and could return simply by virtue of the fact that this team has so many other holes to fill. With Jared Allen’s possible departure, Griffen is a huge priority for the team, especially in new head coach Mike Zimmer’s system — where players like Griffen, who can rush the passer from inside and outside, are used to their best abilities.

The bottom line is that free-agency and the NFL Draft will change NFL rosters a lot between now and the start of next season. That said, as of now the Vikings have the 12th easiest schedule, according to ESPN.

Based on their opponents' 2013-14 season winning percentage, the Vikings will play the league's ninth easiest road schedule, with games at Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Miami, St. Louis, New Orleans, Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit. Their home schedule ranks as the 15th easiest in the NFL, with games against Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Atlanta, Washington, Carolina, New England and the New York Jets.

Keep in mind that Minnesota will play its home games at TCF Bank Stadium, where there will be 12,000 fewer fans and no teflon roof to trap the amazing amount of noise like the Metrodome did.

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