PFF Connects Two Remaining High-Profile FAs to Vikings

Dec 20, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter (64) blocks Las Vegas Raiders outside linebacker K.J. Wright (34) during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

PFF has published a piece that speculates where the best remaining free agents will end up, and our Vikings weren’t shutout.

According to Brad Spielberger, it’s plausible Minnesota is a landing spot for Akiem Hicks and J.C. Tretter. Take a look at the rationale for the veteran center:

For the Miami Dolphins or Minnesota Vikings, Tretter would represent a significant upgrade at the center position. Tretter’s 83.7 pass-blocking grade in 2021 — his seventh straight season finishing above 80.0 — was almost 30 points better than Miami’s centers for the season and over 40 points better than Minnesota’s. While he’s not as prolific as a run blocker, he’s proven to be an above-average run blocker in an outside zone rushing attack, which both Miami and Minnesota are expected to utilize in 2022.

And then the veteran DT:

As a run defender and a pass-rusher, Hicks brings an extremely high floor. Over six seasons with the Chicago Bears, he earned both a run-defense and a pass-rush grade of 65.0 or better in every year except an injury-plagued 2019 campaign. Hicks can reunite with edge defender Khalil Mack, head coach Brandon Staley and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers after the group was very successful together in 2018 — the year Hicks earned a career-best 91.7 overall grade.

To be clear, Spielberger doesn’t identify the Vikings as the clear-cut frontrunner for these two. Rather, the Vikings are one of three teams highlighted that make sense.

The price projections put Tretter at two years for a total of $12 million. Hicks comes in at a one-year, $6.5 million deal. Both would be a stretch for the Vikings’ finances, and yet the PFF salary projections aren’t totally unattainable.

Defensive tackle is perhaps the deepest position on Minnesota’s roster. Dalvin Tomlinson, Armon Watts, and Horrible Harry are all good players. They’ll rotate in and out, giving Donatell the chance to rest his guys. In so doing, all the DTs should shine a little brighter. Fresh legs can help in the fourth quarter. Adding Hicks, then, is more of a luxury than a need. A $6.5 million hit is likely too rich for KAM.

Tretter is the one who makes more sense. Garrett Bradbury, if we’re being frank, isn’t a starting-calibre center. I suppose it’s possible that Kevin O’Connell finds a way of better catering to his offensive line’s abilities, and yet it’ll be very surprising to see Bradbury suddenly learn how to anchor. Tretter makes an awful lot of sense, especially if the team finds a way to lessen his 2022 cap hit.

The free agency period will extend up to and beyond the draft, so PFF is right to make connections between the FAs, the Vikings, and the rest of the NFL. Stay tuned.

Purple PTSD Also Read: J.C. Tretter is Still a Free Agent