matt casselCould things really have gotten worse for the Minnesota Vikings in 2013? A team with good speed at receiver, a better than average pass rush and the best runner in the NFL.

Those are pretty good ingredients to work with on a daily basis. But with all good things, there were bad things they team needed to address…

  • Poor play at quarterback
  • Poor secondary play
  • Inconsistency in play calling
  • A failure to capitalize and finish ball games

If the Vikings are to have any success this season, they must focus on getting solid players in both free agency and through the Draft to have any hope of challenging for the NFC North crown. Out goes Leslie Frazier and in comes Mike Zimmer. A new defensive philosophy emerges and a new spirit of hope in a city that needs it. And with the team playing in the cold the next two seasons at home, this is a franchise that must make a statement both early and often.

In order to do that, here are five players this franchise should look to sign in free agency.

Michael Vick

It all starts at quarterback and the Vikings know they don’t have one right now. Matt Cassel has stated he wants to test free agency this year and Christian Ponder has been a bust since he was drafted in 2011. Vick has been rumored to be on the wish list of Oakland and possibly Cleveland, which makes sense. Playing in Minnesota does as well.

Michael Johnson

The pass rusher played with new coach Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati, so he knows the scheme Minnesota will run. There was talk that Jared Allen will hit the free agent market, so finding his replacement is paramount. Johnson can play on the line as an end in a 3-4 defense or as a linebacker/pass rusher in a 4-3. He could be the biggest target of this team in the free agency period.

Linval Joseph

The space eater in the middle of the defense for the Giants would be a nice fit in the middle in Minnesota. How he fits in a 3-4 scheme is debatable, but he would be a welcomed addition to this defensive line.

Travelle Wharton

I do not see this happening, as the Panthers could lose both Wharton and Jordan Gross come March. But Wharton had his best season last year and will want to be rewarded for his efforts. He also helps stabilize an offensive line that needs to open more holes for Adrian Peterson.

Jonathan Vilma

He was just released by the Saints and the Vikings have a huge hole in the middle of their defense after cutting Erin Henderson. With Vilma, what you see is what you get. A run stuffer and a player who can drop back into coverage of a tight end of running back. And he is an unquestioned leader in the locker room.