There are only two ways the Minnesota Vikings can approach free agency when the opening bell rings at 3 p.m. today. They can go in with an aggressive approach, trying to sign the top players available, or they can sit back and use their money on less eye-catching free agents.
Based on what head coach Mike Zimmer told the Star Tribune, the second route seems like the more likely option.
“We’ve got a lot of holes to fill, but we want to be smart with how we use the money,” Zimmer said. “We don’t want to go crazy in this thing.”
After signing quarterback Matt Cassel and defensive end Everson Griffen to new contracts, the Vikings are believed to be about $25 million under the NFL's $133 million salary cap. If General Manager Rick Spielman decides to get aggressive, one name to keep an eye on is Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner.
ESPN reports the Vikings called to "express interest" in Verner on Saturday, the first day teams were allowed to openly negotiate contracts with players. NFL.com's Marc Sessler says it's a good bet that Verner will command $10 million per year.
The projection falls in line with a prediction by Rotoworld's Evan Silva, who believes Verner will end up in Minnesota on a four-year, $40 million deal.
Breakout 2013 campaign after Titans spent all spring trying to bench him for Tommie Campbell. Can cover slot but best at right corner. Strong run defender. Only 25. Will leave Tennessee. Has history with new Vikings DBs coach Jerry Gray.
Verner would be a huge upgrade to a Minnesota passing defense that allowed a whopping 4,598 yards last season, second worst in the NFL.
However, Verner says he wants to play for a team that can win right away. The 25-year-old could pass on the Vikings for that very reason.
“I feel more compelled to go to a team that I think can win. I haven’t had that experience for the past four years in Tennessee,” Verner said on Monday, according to Pro Football Talk. “Money is [priority] but it isn’t. I look at it differently. Some look at it tangibly. I look at it as more of a respect value. I would feel more obliged to go to a team that paid me $6 or $7 million and made me one of the highest-paid players on the team than go to a team that paid me $8 or $9 million and I wasn’t one of the highest-paid players on the team.”
The Vikings have the money to pay Verner, but will they choose to go for a big name or build depth with lesser known names? It's a question we could have an answer to very soon.