The PFF Vikings FA Grades Are a Mixed Bag

It doesn’t take too long before analysts and prognosticators sink their teeth into the free agency decisions. On PFF, there is a massive running tally of not just the deals, but assessments of the deals. The Vikings FA grades are a bit of a mixed bag, containing some positive and negative assessments.

Unsurprisingly, the Josh Oliver deal was met with surprise. Anyone who tells you that they could foresee this deal as the first one Minnesota would make is almost certainly lying. I know I didn’t have the talented TE anywhere near the PurplePTSD top free agents list.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars
Nov 27, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Josh Oliver (84) spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The analytics website gives the Oliver signing a C+ for fit/need and then a C- for value. A brief snippet from their assessment:

Kevin O’Connell wants to be able to operate more effectively out of 12 personnel, and Oliver’s 74.6 run-blocking grade in 2022 ranked second among tight ends with at least 100 run-blocking snaps on the season.

After Minnesota traded for tight end T.J. Hockenson, they’re likely about to pay him near the top of the position market and could approach $25 million per year in spending on their top two tight ends.

The low 2023 cap hit for Oliver – it’ll be a touch above $3.5 million, per OTC – means the Vikings are unlikely to flirt with $25 million on their tight ends in 2023. After all, T.J. Hockenson appears to be heading for an extension, one that lowers his cap hit in the current year. Nevertheless, the point about improving out of 12 personnel is probably exactly right. Expect much more of that personnel grouping in the upcoming season.

The Marcus Davenport and Byron Murphy deals get more love. The EDGE gets an A for fit/need and an A- for value; the CB gets an A for fit/need and a B for value.

Sep 25, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) rush off the field against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

PFF describes Davenport as “arguably the best edge rusher available in free agency” who is “a very worthwhile gamble” despite the injury concerns. Meanwhile, Murphy receives praise for his consistency and capacity to limit explosive plays: “Murphy has three straight seasons with coverage grades above 63.0, and he has allowed an explosive play of 15 or more yards on 1.8% of his targets in coverage over the last two seasons, a top-25 mark at the position.”

Though perhaps not as notable, PFF also offers up some thoughts on the deal for Garrett Bradbury. That signing gets an A- for fit/need and a B for value. To my mind, it was a smart move for Minnesota since the deal is so team friendly.

Taken together, the Vikings FA grades point to some positives and negatives. We’ll need to wait for the actual season to begin before being able to arrive at firm conclusions.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap helped with this piece.