In 2015, the Minnesota Vikings snapped the Green Bay Packers’ four-year streak of NFC North titles thanks to an 11-5 finish. That included beating Aaron Rodgers and company on a Sunday night in Week 17 at Lambeau Field to secure the division crown. Mike Zimmer’s team lost in the playoffs a week later but this certainly looked like a franchise on the rise. Then as the ’16 campaign approached, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was lost to a devastating knee injury. Early in the year, running back Adrian Peterson went down for a sustained period of time. The team opened 5-0 but dropped eight of its final 13 games to miss the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

However, there is always a new season. So as Free Agency approaches, who will the Vikings work hard to retain and which players will be allowed to test free agency?

Bring him back

If you think long-time NFL cornerback Terence Newman is showing any signs of slowing down after 14 seasons, think again. The fifth overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys (and then-head coach Bill Parcells) earned an 86.4 grade from the staff at Pro Football Focus in 2016. That made him the No. 9 player at his position in the league. While the Minnesota Vikings defense finished 20th in the NFL against the run, only the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans allowed fewer passing yards per contest. The club also has a potential star in cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

General manager Rick Spielman used a first-round pick in 2015 on Trae Waynes. Captain Munnerlyn is also slated for free agency. But there is no doubt that Zimmer would love to see Newman return for another year with the Purple Gang.

Let him go

Both of the team’s tackles, Matt Kalil and Andre Smith, can hit the open market.

The former was a first-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2012 and his play has slipped dramatically since his rookie campaign. Smith is also a former first-rounder, taken by the Cincinnati Bengals with the sixth overall selection in ’09. Smith has been a bit of an underachiever, first in the Queen City, where he struggled with numerous issues.

In seven seasons with the Bengals he played in 16 games only once. In his first year with the Vikings, he couldn’t stay on the field and managed only four outings. Both Kalil and Smith may not be re-signed by the club. But the safe bet to leave the Twin Cities is the former Bengals’ blocker.

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