Every year before training camps start, multiple free agents are still looking for a team. Some of them even go into the season without a team. There are big-name players like Odell Beckham Jr available, just like underrated ones. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox released a list of the eight most underrated remaining free agents. None of them ever had a trip to the Pro Bowl or was part of an All-Pro team. Three of them played for the Minnesota Vikings at some point in their career.
After selecting Laquon Treadwell in the first round, former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman picked a defensive player in the second. The player was Clemson’s cornerback, Mackensie Alexander. In his first four seasons on the purple team, the cornerback played 55 games for Mike Zimmer’s strong defense and started ten.
His snap counts got bigger over time. He played just 8% of snaps during his rookie campaign but 37% as a sophomore. In year three, the number rose to 58% and 60% in his final year. The Vikings let their defensive back leave in free agency, just like the two other starting cornerbacks, Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes. Waynes and Alexander both signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Alexander, the slot cornerback, was on the field for a career-high 75% of the snaps and once again became a free agent. The Vikings, desperate for cornerback help, signed their former draft pick to a cheap one-year contract. That year was a disaster, as he was one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL. PFF even graded him as the worst of 116 CBs. His PFF grades over the years:
- 2016 – 47.5
- 2017 – 54.7
- 2018 – 78.1
- 2019 – 65.7
- 2020 – 60.4
- 2021 – 40.2
In 2018, Alexander was ranked 16th but since regressed. Knox named the two best fits for the cornerback, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys.
Riley Reiff & Mike Remmers
After the closest comparison for the 2016 Vikings offensive line is a train wreck, the Vikings were big spenders in free agency to protect their quarterback Sam Bradford. Spielman signed two offensive tackles. The former Carolina Panther, Mike Remmers, was relatively cheap, but Riley Reiff, formerly with the Lions, was a big investment.
Reiff handled the left side of the Vikings for four seasons and even became a team captain. He was never great but always solid. Reiff was released after the 2020 campaign and signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. He was part of the Vikings’ postseason run in his first season in 2017 and of the Bengals playoff run in 2021.
Mike Remmers, on the other hand, didn’t have the success of Reiff in Minnesota. He played just two seasons in a purple jersey. After lining up at the right side of the line in 2017, he played the right guard spot in 2018 and got released after the season.
In 2019 he was part of the Giants, and since 2020, he played in the line protecting Patrick Mahomes. As a guard, that was alright, but once he had to move to tackle, it turned into a disaster, especially in the Super Bowl against the Buccaneers.
Two solid veteran offensive linemen. Reiff can be a totally average but dependable starter and could upgrade multiple lines. Remmers can be one of the better backups. Two AFC North teams are called the best fit for Reiff, the Browns and the Steelers. The Raiders and the Cowboys, meanwhile, fit for Remmers.
Vikings Called Fit for Veteran Center
J.C. Tretter became the desired free agent for Vikings fans since he was surprisingly cut by the Browns right before the start of free agency. Garrett Bradbury struggled in his three seasons as the Vikings’ center. A healthy Tretter is a huge upgrade.
His PFF grades ranked him in the top 10 in four consecutive seasons. Especially his pass-blocking grade is elite every season. The question mark is his health. He rarely practiced in the 2021 season because of severe knee problems. If he’s healthy, the Vikings should give him a call in an attempt to protect quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt