NFL free agency: Vikings looking to fill a few holes

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The NFL's shopping season kicks off on Tuesday, which is the first official day of the new league year. No, it's not quite the holiday hustle and bustle, but it is the first day of free agency.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has said repeatedly over the years that he prefers to build through the draft, but at times Spielman has been willing to spend to fill some holes through free agency.

Here are some of those holes.

Quarterback

After Teddy Bridgewater's rookie season, the Vikings are not looking for a starter during free agency. But following the team's trade of backup Matt Cassel to Buffalo and Christian Ponder's impending departure, the Vikings are in the market for a backup.

The focus appears to be on a pair of former Vikings. Tavaris Jackson said last week he'd be open to returning to Minnesota as Bridgewater's backup. Jackson, who played for Minnesota from 2006-2010, has spent the last two seasons backing up Russell Wilson in Seattle.

More likely, though, is former Viking Shaun Hill. He played for Minnesota in 2005 and has a connection to Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Reports are that Hill is very interested and so are the Vikings – in fact ESPN reports the Vikings have already made an offer to the 35-year-old veteran.

Other teams including Dallas and Oakland are also reportedly interested.

Running back

The Vikings have the NFL's best running back on their roster and under contract for 2015, but Adrian Peterson's future remains uncertain. Peterson's situation could come to a head this week.

While Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said earlier in the offseason that they wouldn't pursue a running back in free agency, we can't totally discount a report from the Pioneer Press that Minnesota may have some interest in Stevan Ridley, if Peterson doesn't return.

Ridley's best season in the NFL came in 2012, when he rushed for 1,263 yards during his second season with the Patriots. He was benched for being fumble prone during stretches of 2013, and missed much of last season after tearing his ACL.

Wide receiver

It's not clear what the Vikings will do at receiver, but one name they have been linked to is 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree. If Crabtree were to become available it is thought the Vikings may have some interest.

Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com notes that while a couple of free agents may be valued ahead of Crabtree, he thinks the 27-year-old receiver would be a solid addition for the Vikings depth chart.

Offensive line

The Vikings' biggest need along the offensive line is at left guard after the team cut starter Charlie Johnson, earlier this month, and could be looking to fill it with an offensive lineman with connections to coach Zimmer.

As we noted earlier in the day, the Vikings are interested in Cincinnati offensive lineman Clint Boling. According to Boling's trainer, the feeling is mutual as he has "a lot of interest in Minnesota."

Pro Football Talk reports the Falcons and Jets are also interested in him.

Linebacker

The Vikings will more than likely address linebacker in some way during free agency. In the wake of Rey Maualuga's decision to re-sign with Cincinnati it's unclear how the Vikings will proceed, but one thing is clear, the team has needs.

If there's one thing Spielman is noted for it's his track record of signing former Packers and as fate would have it, A.J. Hawk is on the market after he was released by Green Bay earlier this month.

According to The Daily Norseman, the Vikings have reached out to Hawk. But he may not be exactly what Minnesota is looking for, as he has played for Green Bay his entire career in a 3-4 scheme.

The report also notes that Hawk doesn't fit the mold of the younger player the Vikings have typically been interested in. He was selected fifth overall in the 2006 NFL Draft – the same year in which the Vikings selected Chad Greenway.

Minnesota may not be on Hawk's list anyway; he was visiting Cincinnati on Monday. One option might be re-signing Jasper Brinkley, whom they brought back on a one-year deal last year. Or Minnesota could skip free agency altogether and draft someone to compete with a player already on the roster.

Defensive backfield

This is one of the bigger areas of need for the Vikings, and as a result they have been linked to a few players.

According to the Daily Norseman, Broncos safety Rahim Moore would be a great fit for the Vikings. He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft and has played his whole career in Denver. He's also expected to command a salary of around $5 million a year, which the site notes would also fit the Vikings situation.

"Moore would be a great get for the Vikings, in my opinion, as he and Smith would immediately become one of the NFL's top safety duos."

The Vikings have also been interested in a few cornerbacks.

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