Bad News for the Vikings

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that’s some bad news for the Vikings.

Pass rusher Leonard Floyd will be joining the Buffalo Bills, per Ian Rapoport. As a result, one of the most commonly-linked free agents to Minnesota is no longer available. Take a look at the info Rapoport provides: “The Bills are making a late splash in free agency, agreeing to terms with former Rams standout pass-rusher Leonard Floyd. He gets a 1-year deal after 9 sacks last season. And Buffalo adds another key player on the edge.”

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
Dec 19, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to pass while under pressure from Los Angeles Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd (54) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Previously, I’ve spilled a pile of digital ink making the case for Mr. Floyd’s employment in The State of Hockey. The veteran has a connection to the coaching staff given that he most recently played for the Rams. He worked alongside head coach Kevin O’Connell and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips in LA’s Super Bowl winning season.

Alas, the deal with the Bills officially ends the possibility of him coming over to Minnesota. Good for Buffalo; not as good for Minnesota.

Bad News for the Vikings

Over the past 3 seasons, Floyd has put up 29 sacks, meaning the veteran has still been productive even as he gets older. The hope would have been that he’d complement Brian Flores’ defense by functioning as another pass rushing specialist to make QBs uncomfortable. A tried-and-true method of helping young, inexperienced corners is to have a truly ferocious pass rush.

Currently, the team’s main pass rushers are Danielle Hunter and Marcus Davenport. Behind them are Patrick Jones, D.J. Wonnum, Andre Carter II, Benton Whitley, Curtis Weaver, and Luiji Vilain.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) and Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) celebrate after a sack against the Washington Commanders during the third quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In his career, Floyd has 47.5 sacks. What’s notable about that total is that the majority have arrived over these past few seasons. He had 10.5 sacks in 2020, 9.5 in 2021, and 9 in 2022. Could he have sustained that production in Minnesota?

Originally the 9th overall selection in the 2016 Draft, Leonard Floyd has an intriguing combination of length and speed. He’s 6’5″ and 240 pounds. He ran a 4.60 forty leading up to the draft, an excellent number for an edge rusher. For reference, Danielle Hunter ran a 4.57 and Marcus Davenport a 4.58. In other words, a Floyd-Hunter-Davenport three-headed monster would be a lot of speed for opposing offenses to contend with.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
Dec 4, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Xavier Crawford (37) runs past Los Angeles Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd (54) in the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

By failing to sign Leonard Floyd, the Vikings will stare down an increasingly thin free agent market. In all likelihood, Minnesota won’t be making a humongous effort to revamp their pass rushing department in the coming weeks and months. Adding a proven veteran, though, does have merit, especially when we consider the Davenport and Hunter injury histories.

The Vikings’ defense is being led by Brian Flores, a coach praised far and wide for his aggressive style of play. He’ll be tasked with avoiding a fourth straight season of Vikings defensive struggle, mostly by leaning on a youthful secondary and a front-7 that blends strong veterans with unproven youngsters.

Currently, Minnesota sits at roughly $9.75 million in cap space.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.