Options, options and more options. The Vikings have plenty of questions to answer entering the NFL's offseason, but nobody knows for sure what the team will do when it comes to some very important decisions that need to be made. Here's a look at five offseason talkers we'll be watching closely.
5. Chad Greenway's future?
- Good cop: Greenway is under contract through the 2015 season, but his salary cap number is a hefty $8.8 million. But ESPN notes that Greenway is open to restructuring the deal. The Pioneer Press speculates that Greenway may have played his final game as a Viking, citing the emergence of rookie outside linebacker Anthony Barr as a candidate to purge playing time from the soon-to-be 32-year-old veteran. A broken hand, broken ribs and a knee injury slowed Greenway this season, but prior to his rib injury, Greenway played in 90 straight games. $8.8 million for a durable veteran tackling machine on an otherwise young defense? That doesn't sound too bad.
- Bad cop:A recent rash of injuries, a large contract and being more than 30 years old were the issues standing in the way of Greenway returning to the Vikings. Now there's another one, the play of Audie Cole. According to FOX Sports Net, Cole led the Vikings with 14 tackles, while playing for the injured Greenway on Sunday. Pro Football Focus put Cole on its All-Star-Team-of-the-Week and rated his performance as a +7.8. 1500 ESPN notes that Greenway watched both Jared Allen and Kevin Williams clean out their Winter Park lockers for the final time last season. Monday he may have done the same thing.
4. What's next for Matt Kalil?
- Good cop: "I think I've got things figured out," the left tackle said following Minnesota's Week 17 win over the Bears, as reported by 1500 ESPN. After allowing ten sacks in the first 11 games, Kalil was beaten for a sack just once in the final five games of the season. The Vikings surely won't be giving up on the team's highest draft pick since Chris Doleman.
- Bad cop: Giving up on Kalil isn't likely at this point, but the Vikings certainly should be concerned by what they saw in 2014. While Kalil has finished the season strong, even he admitted to being humbled after his play early in the season. 1500 ESPN's Judd Zulgad points out that many of Kalil's supporters note that it was "only four or five bad plays a game." But Zulgad notes "The elite left tackles have four or five bad plays a season."
3. Any 'Flash' left in Cordarrelle Patterson?
- Good cop: If Patterson rolled a bunch of strikes as a rookie in 2013, his 2014 was a year of gutter balls. But it took Patterson a long time to get going as a rookie; he exploded with six touchdowns in the final five games of the season. That was his first year in Bill Musgrave's offensive system. 2014 was his first year in Norv Turner's system. As Pro Football Talk notes, Patterson is eager to learn Turner's philosophies this offseason – and if he does, the league might have to again deal with a dangerous playmaker.
- Bad Cop:Dictionary.com defines flash as a sudden brief burst of light. Perhaps "Flash" is an appropriate nickname for Patterson. Like Kalil, Patterson finds himself near the top of Zulgad's most disappointing Vikings list. Also like Kalil, the Vikings aren't going to give up on him that quickly. Patterson spent the majority of the second half on the sideline Sunday. Afterwards, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters he has a plan for Cordarrelle, but that it would be up to Patterson to improve. According to The Daily Norseman, Patterson has one teammate willing to help out. Veteran receiver Greg Jennings is willing to take Patterson under his wing. Patterson may want to heed some of the veteran's advice, or the flash may disappear just as quickly.
2. What to do early in the NFL Draft
- Good cop: Best. Player. Available. If that player happens to fill a position of need, then it's all the better. The latest CBS Sports mock draft has the Vikings using the No. 11 pick on Teddy Bridgewater's former go-to-guy, Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker. But let's get real; this is Mike Zimmer's team and he's a defensive mastermind. After giving up nearly 500 yards of total offense in a Week 16 loss to the Dolphins, Zimmer, via the Pioneer Press, said you can "bet your butt" he'll fix the defense. Defense and solid quarterback play wins championships, and it seems like the Vikings have the quarterback part of the equation figured out.
- Bad cop: It is hard to find something wrong with Rick Spielman's recent draft success. That said, there are plenty of needs for the Vikings to address. Whether it's a receiver, linebacker, cornerback or offensive tackle, you can bet the Vikings will be looking to improve one of these spots. The Bleacher Report has the Vikings selecting Stanford tackle Andrus Peat in the first round. Considering the team invested in a quarterback last year, it only makes sense they try and protect him early in this draft.
1. Bring back Adrian Peterson?
- Good cop: Matt Asiata told Sid Hartman he thinks he can replace Adrian Peterson next season. The Vikings will have to pay Peterson $15.4 million if he returns in 2015. It's either pay for one of the best running backs in the league or cut him, saving $13 million in the process and entrusting the position to Asiata, Jerick McKinnon and/or a player added via free agency or the draft. KFAN's Paul Allen says "those whose opinions matter most around here (Vikings) all want him back," and it will be up to Peterson to say "yes."
- Bad cop:In 2012, Adrian Peterson fell nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. Still, it took a four-game winning streak for the Vikings to even make the playoffs and they were eliminated the following week in Green Bay. The league has changed, as the Star Tribune's Michael Rand points out by using a new stat created by Advanced Football Analytics to measure a player's value to winning and losing. According to the "Win Probability Added" statistic, in 2012 Peterson was a 1.24 (the highest of his career), meaning having Peterson on the team helped the Vikings win one extra game. That seems like a lot of money to pay for one more win, especially considering Peterson has only played in one of the last 20 Vikings games.