As the Vikings head into free agency, rumors involving them and some top names have run rampant. Quarterback, offensive line and defensive tackle are considered the three positions the team needs to upgrade. While players like Andrew Norwell, Zach Fulton, and Justin Pugh are the most popular names, there is another under the radar option that would be great for the Vikings. That is Jack Mewhort of the Indianapolis Colts.
Mewhort has the ability to play both guard and center, a feature Rick Spielman loves in his linemen. At 27, Mewhort is another player coming off his first NFL contract. The story with Mewhort has been his health the past couple years, however. In 2015, Mewhort allowed zero sacks, but he lost part of his last two seasons due to injury. In 2016, he missed the final six games and he only played in the first five this past season. The theme here for Mewhort has been knee injuries. But they have been more of freak injuries than a notable pattern to label him as truly “injury prone.”
Mewhort’s injury history may actually be a blessing for a team like the Vikings. When healthy, Mewhort has shown to be one of the better linemen in the NFL. Playing on perhaps the worst offensive line in football in Indianapolis showed how reliable Mewhort was when healthy. Entering free agency, it will be interesting to see the market for him. He may be willing to take a shorter one- or two-year “prove-it” deal that is heavily incentivized by the amount of games he is able to play. If this is the case, the Vikings may be able to swing a deal for him in the $5-6 million per year range.
Looking at other options, Norwell and Fulton are guys that will get at least $10 million a year. For Norwell, the price may be closer to $15 million per year. If the Vikings feel comfortable with Mewhort’s knees, the team could theoretically sign him for half, even a third of the price some of these other linemen are going for. It is the ultimate risk and reward for the Vikings. The team has had mixed success with signing linemen lately. Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers were good signings, but Alex Boone and Andre Smith were giant disappointments.
At best, Mewhort gives them a potentially elite lineman and brings consistency to the guard position. At worst, he is not able to stay on the field. On a short deal, he is exactly the risk-reward linemen the Vikings should make a priority this offseason.