Offseason Forecast: Minnesota Vikings
- By Marc Sessler
- Updated: Feb. 18, 2013 at 05:00 p.m.
With the offseason officially under way, Around the League will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Minnesota Vikings.
The future of Percy Harvin is set to dominate the Vikings' offseason. No matter what the front office says, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the 24-year-old wideout traded away before next season. Filling that void won't be easy, but even if Harvin stays, the passing game must be addressed. Quarterback Christian Ponder isn't exactly the second coming of Fran Tarkenton, but he was hamstrung by a lack of targets last season. Leaning heavily again on Adrian Peterson in 2013 won't help this offense evolve.
Biggest free agents
» RT Phil Loadholt: An unsung hero behind Peterson's epic 2012 campaign, Loadholdt appears destined for the franchise tag, helped by the fact Matt Kalil was signed to a salary cap-friendly rookie deal last July.
» LBs Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson: Brinkley struggled against the pass in Minnesota's Cover-2 scheme and can't be counted on as an every-down player. Henderson is expected to test the market. Whether or not this duo is re-signed, the Vikings could use more depth at linebacker.
» FB Jerome Felton: The 26-year-old Felton played on a one-year deal last season and made a strong case for his return in 2013. Emerging as one of the NFL's more punishing lead blockers, the Vikings likely will re-sign him.
Other key free agents: WR Devin Aromashodu, WR Jerome Simpson, S Jamarca Sanford, LB Marvin Mitchell, OL Joe Berger and OL Geoff Schwartz.
What they need
The Vikings can't ignore the weaknesses which prevented this team from doing damage in the playoffs. If Harvin exits stage left, the receiver group becomes an immediate dumpster fire. When Percy wasn't on the field last season, Ponder's play was impacted dramatically. This quarterback needs targets to grow with. The linebacker position needs depth and the Vikings could use a boost at defensive tackle. Interior lineman Letroy Guion was a disappointment and Kevin Williams, at 32, isn't getting any younger.
Offseason crystal ball
The Vikings were a welcome surprise last season -- and coach Leslie Frazier deserves credit -- but Ponder's growth will decide where this team goes in 2013. Keeping this offensive line intact by locking down Loadholt is a start. General manager Rick Spielman is a build-through-the-draft guy, but April alone might not be enough to gather dynamic pass-catchers and patch up the front seven. Dipping into free agency might be required for the Vikings to fill all of their needs.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.