After Jordan Gross and Vernon Carey re-signed with their teams, it seemed like the Vikings were going to have to address the right side of their line through the draft. The tackles available in free agency were either old, had injury issues or both. Any long term answer was going to have to come from the draft. That might not be true anymore, as the Cleveland Browns just released their starting right tackle, Kevin Shaffer. Of course, I might be wasting my time on this post, just like I wasted my time on a post about Vernon Carey, as Shaffer is considering re-signing with the Browns for a smaller contract than before.
If he does decide to enter free agency, however, the Vikings should jump on him. First off, he has a ridiculous beard. Look at it and tell me you don't want him in Purple:
Secondly, he's relatively young, just turning 29 last week. And he can both run and pass block (two skills Ryan Cook doesn't have). He moved from left to right tackle to accommodate #3 pick Joe Thomas in 2007 showed that he was much more effective on the right side. And since then, when the Browns have run to the right, they've been successful. In 2007, they averaged 4.73 Adjusted Line Yards running over the right tackle and 5.03 ALY running to the right end, the 3rd and 2nd most yards in the NFL respectively. In 2008, they averaged 4.64 ALY and 4.59 ALY, the 7th and 6th best totals in the league. In contrast, the Vikings were 21st in ALY to the right tackle and 28th to the right end in 2007 and 28th and 8th to the right end (remember, the tight end is equally important in plays to right end) in 2008.
While its hard to isolate Shaffer's pass blocking from the rest of his linemates, odds are he was a very good pass blocker, because the Browns just did not give up sacks the past two years. In 2007, they were 5th in Adjusted Sack Rate, only allowing 19 sacks all year, and in 2008 they were 8th, allowing only 25 sacks. The Vikings, in contrast were 28th in ASR the past two years, allowing 38 and 43 sacks in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Kevin Shaffer, like Vernon Carey, would be a very good answer to the Vikings' troubles at right tackle. He'd also free up Ryan Cook to challenge John Sullivan for the starting job at center, give Tarvaris (or Sage) some more time to throw the ball and allow the Vikings to successfully run the ball to the right. If he doesn't re-sign with the Browns, the Vikings need to do everything they can to bring Shaffer to Winter Park and get him signed.
[All statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders]