The Vikings’ Dream Free Agency
The Vikings have some work to day before free agency begins. If they are successful when it comes to carving out cap space, they’ll be well-positioned to have a successful free agency. Ideally, the mistakes will be few and far between.
To my mind, the team will hit a home run if they get significant help in three critical areas: corner, offensive line, and at edge rusher. Can they realistically address all three needs? I’m going to give a (possibly misguided) yes to that question.
As previously noted, Ed Donatell is looking for a corner like J.C. Jackson. Acquiring Jackson means a financial commitment that spans multiple years and averages nearly $20 million per season. It is the definition of a home run swing; this approach, of course, can either lead to a huge hit or a strikeout. If they opt for less risk, Bryce Callahan makes sense. One wonders, though, what this would then mean for the draft. Does signing a CB2 mean the Vikings need to target a corner in the early rounds?
For the offensive line, there’s reason for optimism. Austin Corbett seems like a perfect fit, and Brian Allen could solidify the center position. If they wanted to pursue a veteran upgrade, then Ben Jones makes some sense. Regardless, the team cannot just do nothing. Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill are great building blocks. Ezra Cleveland has shown growth, and perhaps Wyatt Davis finds a role. That being said, the team needs to bring in talent.
Finally, edge rusher. I’ve explored some value options. At the combine, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah suggested that Minnesota is looking to retain Danielle Hunter: “He’s somebody we want to work with going forward.” Moving into the year with just Danielle would be a mistake, though. Even if he stays healthy, he needs help.
The Vikings need to prioritize edge rusher in free agency. One or even two impact players for the edge will be important. Hunter’s injury history is reason for concern, and there’s no such thing as too many players who can sack the QB. Emmanuel Ogbah, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, and even vets like Justin Houston or Jerry Hughes could fit within the right role.
The money won’t be abundant enough for the Vikings to bring in all the talented players in free agency. I imagine they’ll begin by pursuing the most talented, expensive players on their wish list. From that starting point, they can then progress to target needs through value deals. Getting an infusion of talent at corner, iOL, and EDGE would go a long way in turning things around for 2022.