An offseason that has seen more linemen go than come has become a little more digestible. The Vikings announced Wednesday that they signed former Titans and Patriots guard Josh Kline to a three-year, $15.75 million deal. The contract will push the Vikings closer to their cap limit, leaving them realistically only enough to sign draft picks. But for the moment, it seems Kirk Cousins has a new starter in front of him.
Kline and Danny Isidora are currently the only guards on the Minnesota roster. Last year’s embattled guard duo of Mike Remmers and Tom Compton is gone, as Compton signed with the Jets and Remmers was released. 2017 starter Nick Easton also found a new home, signing with New Orleans. As it stands now, the Vikings will return three of last season’s starters with Pat Elflein, Riley Reiff and Brian O’Neill. However, interior line was their greatest weakness. The hope is that Kline will partially fill that gap.
Kline began his career with New England after going undrafted, starting 18 games in three seasons. He then started 46 of 48 games over three years in Tennessee. During his time there, the Titans finished in the top half of the league in rushing all three seasons, and in the top-six twice. He also recorded only one holding penalty and two sacks allowed last season, as opposed to six holdings and six sacks surrendered by Remmers.
Kline did, however, allow his fair share of pressure. He ended up with 38 pressures allowed in total, with an average of .069 pressures per pass blocking snap, per Pro Football Focus. For reference, Remmers allowed .059 pressures per rep. That said, 2018 was certainly a down year for Kline. He surrendered only 22 pressures the year before while still starting all 16 games.
If the Vikings do indeed get the 2017 version of Kline, that would certainly constitute an upgrade at a position of significant need. The question moving forward is how Kline slides into a blocking system that is reliant on mobile linemen. The Vikings have recently been zone-heavy in the run game, similar to last year’s Titans. That said, Kline struggled a bit with the switch from a power-based scheme to a zone-based one in 2018. As the year went on, the Titans running game improved dramatically, so perhaps a full offseason with a year of zone under his belt will aid Kline’s transition to Minnesota.
With regard to money, Chris Tomasson reported that the deal appears to be a bit back-loaded. As such, even with the Vikings’ tight cap situation, they should be able to sign draft picks without making any more significant moves. However, they still could restructure some deals to give themselves more flexibility.
It still seems the Vikings are in the market for linemen in the early rounds of the draft. But they have a bit of wiggle room thanks to the Kline signing, and will at least not likely have to depend on multiple rookies to start right away.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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