The Minnesota Vikings' plans to address areas of need on their NFC North Championship team will start to come into focus in less than a week, when NFL free agency opens.
Vikings GM Rick Spielman has never been one to break the bank on free agents. Instead he prefers to build a team through the draft. But with holes along the offensive line, at wide receiver, safety and linebacker Minnesota may have to give this year's soon-to-be-available talent a look.
One name that quickly gets connected to the Vikings in free agency is Cincinnati safety George Iloka. The blog DraftSeason calls the Vikings the front runners for Iloka.
"This just makes too much sense, not only does Iloka fill a huge need next to Harrison Smith, but also played under Zimmer for Cincy. As of now I would say the Vikings are the front runner for his services. How I see the Vikings losing out is if a team like the Browns or Lions overpay for his services... something we know Spielman won't do."
Familiarity is an important factor for the Vikings when they are deciding if they should pursue a free agent.
"When you're messing around in free agency, I think the more you know a player the better chance you have of being correct," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told 1500 ESPN this week. "So for me, a lot of it has been familiarity. Not only me knowing them, but them knowing me and how I am. I think that's an important part of the process as well."
On the surface it appears Iloka would be a fit for the Vikings. NFL.com ranks him as No. 24 on their list of the Top 99 players available in free agency.
At 26, he has rare size (6' 4", 225 lbs.) and coverage ability. He also has 47 starts in the NFL at strong safety and knows Zimmer's system, having been drafted in the fifth round when Zimmer was Cincinnati's defensive coordinator.
Teams are permitted to begin talking and negotiating with free agents on Monday. Free agency opens at 3 p.m. next Wednesday.