Update: the Minnesota Vikings have signed left tackle Jake Long.
The Minnesota Vikings have had one weak spot this season–the offensive line. Left tackle Matt Kalil is likely out for the season with a hip injury. Tackle Andre Smith, also on IR, has an elbow and biceps injury. Guard Mike Harris will likely never see the field in 2016. Guard Alex Boone is playing through injuries. Guard Brandon Fusco simply hasn’t played well the past two seasons. In other words, the Vikings need help on the offensive line–particularly in pass protection.
Jake Long, drafted first overall by the Dolphins in 2008, earned four pro bowl appearances before being sidelined with ACL surgeries in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, Long only managed to play 11 snaps with the Atlanta Falcons. Now, however, Long claims to feel the healthiest he has been in six years.
Long is also willing to play around the NFL’s veteran minimum of $885,000 which is good because the cash-strapped Vikings only have about $1.8 million left in cap space–the result of attempts to bolster the offensive line in the offseason.
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For the Minnesota Vikings, nothing would be sweeter than to sure up the team’s weakest position while campaigning for a super bowl. Still, the Vikings front office must know by now that you can’t buy an offensive line (the Vikings had the highest paid offensive line at the start of preseason).
Without much of a choice, however, the Vikings will be hoping for Jake Long to return to some resemblence of his pro bowl self, keeping Sam Bradford clean into the post season. Now the question is whether Jake Long will start at right or left tackle. T.J. Clemmings has looked inexperienced, yet improved at left tackle, but his performance against the Texans was miserable.
Jeremiah Sirles has shown a lack of physical traits at right tackle, but his effot level has been a nice change of pace from Andre Smith’s onfield aloof persona. If Long can still move his feet, expect him to play at left tackle. That brings the other issue of who will be playing at right tackle. Clemmings is an upgrade over Sirles in the run, but Sirles moves off the snap more quickly on pass plays despite showing less athleticism.
In any case, the Minnesota Vikings will welcome any depth on their dwindling line. If truly healthy, Jake Long will prove to be more than just a necessary signing. For updates, follow @SportingSota on twitter.