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Offseason Forecast: Minnesota Vikings

With the offseason officially under way, Around the League will examine what's next for all 32 teams.

What's changing


With the offseason underway, Around The League explores what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | 49ers | Rams | Seahawks

Coach Mike Zimmer is bringing in a strong personality and defensive scheme that should whip a disappointing Vikings group into shape. The key for Minnesota, however, will be the quarterback position. General Manager Rick Spielman insisted Christian Ponder would be back in 2014. The Vikings must draft a young quarterback and bring in a veteran. Matt Cassel, Minnesota's best quarterback in 2013, voided his contract.

Biggest free agents


» DE Jared AllenThe Vikings' sack-master the past six seasons could have played his last down in purple. With 11.5 sacks in 2013, the Rhinestone Cowboy extended his streak of double-digit sack seasons to seven -- including 22 in 2011.  However, at 31 years old, he's likely to chase a ring.

» DE Everson Griffen:The young pass rusher has been inconsistent, but displays explosiveness on the edge. He could thrive under Zimmer. Griffen will likely cost less than Allen and could possibly sign a 'prove it' contract similar to what Cliff Avril signed with the Seahawks last offseason.

» QB Matt Cassel: Cassel knows he'll likely find a better situation and more lucrative contract on the open market.

Other key free agents: DT Kevin Williams, QB Josh Freeman, WR Jerome Simpson, WR Joe Webb, RB Toby Gerhart.

What they need


Quarterback is the most obvious need, though Spielman could fear forcing another Ponder-type selection if his top targets are off the draft board come pick No. 8. The Vikings desperately need to add secondary playmakers after getting toyed with last season. The linebacker position is also a mess.

On the way out?


» TE John Carlson: He hasn't produced in two seasons in Minnesota -- putting up only one big game. He could save the Vikings $2 million in cap space if cut. Carlson also has injury concerns.

» LB Chad Greenway: While the Vikings' linebackers corps can ill afford to get thinner, Greenway is too inconsistent to justify his $8.2 million cap number. The Vikings' $23 million cap space could save the veteran, but a restructure might benefit both sides.

» DT Letroy Guion: Another player that might benefit from Minnesota's healthy-cap situation and feeble defensive personnel. However, he would save $4 million if cut. The fifth-round pick isn't worth close to that type of money.

Offseason crystal ball


The Vikings will take their quarterback of the future in the draft and then load up on the defensive side of the ball via the draft and free agency. Greenway and Guion will restructure their contracts freeing up even more room to re-sign Griffin and chase Michael Johnson -- who played for Zimmer in Cincinnati. Allen and Gerhart both leave Minnesota. Cassel entertains returning but decides to move on, leaving Norv Turner with a youngster, scrap-heap veteran and Ponder at quarterback.

On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys debate Joe Philbin's future in Miami before playing another round of "Win Wess' Toaster."

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