Vikings Lose DT James Lynch for the 2023 Season

Vikings Will Be Down a Defensive Lineman
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle James Lynch (92) tackles Las Vegas Raiders running back Brittain Brown (38) in the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings practiced under the lights on Thursday night, allowing fans to get an up close look at the team ahead of the 2023 season.

While the practice was an exciting one overall, some somber news came in the aftermath of the session. On Friday, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that DT James Lynch tore his ACL during the practice, and he will be out for the 2023 season.

DT James Lynch
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle James Lynch (92) and cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) tackle San Francisco 49ers running back Tyrion Davis-Price (32) during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Pelissero tweeted on Friday, “#Vikings DT James Lynch tore his ACL in practice Thursday and will undergo season-ending surgery, per source. A fourth-round pick in 2020, Lynch has played in 37 games over three seasons in Minnesota. He’ll have time to get healthy before hitting free agency in March.”

Lynch was a fourth-round pick in the 2020 Draft after a three-year playing career at Baylor from 2017-2019. Over those three seasons, he played 33 games and recorded 100 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, and 20 sacks. 13.5 of those sacks came during his final year in the program during 2019.

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Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle James Lynch. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

Lynch has been a rotational piece on the Vikings defensive line over his first three NFL seasons, taking on over 270 defensive snaps in both 2021 and 2022 for Minnesota. The expectation was that he’d be in the thick of Minnesota’s battle for a spot on the defensive line this year, but obviously, that possibility is out the window with his injury. He started two games for the Vikings last season.

Unless Minnesota decides to add another player, it seems that the Vikings will be relying on either Jonathan Bullard, Ross Blacklock, or Khyiris Tonga to take a starting spot next to Dean Lowry and Harrison Phillips.

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Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (11) is tackled in the second quarter against Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle James Lynch. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

Blacklock was acquired via trade from the Houston Texans during training camp last season, and he appeared in 11 games for the Vikings, recording a sack. Bullard actually started seven games for Minnesota last season, appearing in 12 games, but a bicep injury held him out of five games during the year. He had 23 tackles during the year, including 5 tackles for loss.

The most intriguing remaining option may be Tonga, who was picked up by Minnesota after the Bears cut him at the end of training camp. He really came on strong towards the end of the season, starting the final two games of the regular season, and putting together 28 tackles, a tackle for loss, and half a sack.

As for Lynch, this is the final year of his contract in Minnesota. He will get a chance to heal up before hitting free agency next March.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.