Vikings position outlook: Offensive tackles

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
10:20
AM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- We're continuing on with our position-by-position outlook at the Minnesota Vikings' roster. Today: the offensive tackles.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

2014 free agents: J'Marcus Webb

The good: The Vikings know they're set at the position, with Matt Kalil signed through 2015 and Phil Loadholt under contract until 2016. Both players got better after rough starts to the season; Loadholt allowed just one sack in the Vikings' final 13 games after giving up three in their first three, and Pro Football Focus ranked him the 10th-best tackle in the game. Kalil's best work came in the month of December, when he was credited with just two quarterback hits and no sacks, per Pro Football Focus. The Vikings know who both of their tackles will be for the foreseeable future, and they might have the best tackle tandem in the division.

The bad: When taken as a whole, it's hard to see Kalil's year as anything other than a setback from his superb rookie season. He gave up four sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 33 hurries, after allowing three sacks, four hits and 20 hurries as a rookie. The Vikings might be able to get Kalil some help on the left side of the line if they upgrade at left guard from veteran Charlie Johnson, who is a free agent after a disappointing year, but they'll be counting on Kalil to build on what he did toward the end of the season and get back to playing the way he did as a rookie. He seemed to struggle more against speed rushers in 2013 than he did as a rookie. With offensive line coach Jeff Davidson looking likely to return, Kalil will at least have some of the same structure in place he did during his first two years.

The money (2014 salary-cap numbers): Loadholt ($5.57 million), Kalil ($5.39 million), Mike Remmers ($495,000). The Vikings also had tackle Kevin Murphy on their practice squad, and signed him to a reserve/future contract after the season. The Vikings might also look for a veteran backup at the position, like they had in Webb this season. Webb is a free agent this spring, but it's possible the Vikings could bring him back.

Draft priority: Low. The Vikings' fortunes (literally and figuratively) are tied up in Kalil and Loadholt at the position, and anything they do with their tackles would be simply to add depth to their roster.

Ben Goessling

ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter

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