The Boom-or-Bust Vikings Free Agent in 2024
Last offseason, pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith threw the Vikings a curveball by asking to leave the team.
As a result, one of Minnesota’s “to-do” items in free agency was to find a replacement for Smith next to Danielle Hunter. That was supposedly checked off when the Vikings decided to sign Marcus Davenport, who spent his first five NFL seasons with the New Orleans Saints.
Unfortunately, Davenport’s season in Minnesota did not go as planned, largely because of an ankle injury that lingered throughout the season. Now, the boom-or-bust Vikings free agent is set to hit the open market again, but should Minnesota consider bringing him back?
The Boom-or-Bust Vikings Free Agent
Let’s first look at Davenport’s contract with the Vikings. The pass-rusher signed a one-year deal worth $13 million last spring, but only $6.2 million of that money counted towards the salary cap in 2023. The rest of the $6.8 million was spread across four void years, offering the potential for an extension at the end of the season.
However, considering Davenport played just four games during the 2023 season, an extension could prove to be very risky for the Vikings. The pass-rusher has never been particularly healthy, either. He’s missed at least three games in five of his first six seasons.
Still, when he has been on the field, Davenport has the ability to be a big-time producer for a defense. He played the majority of defensive snaps in two games for Minnesota this year (at Carolina, versus Kansas City). He recorded sacks in each of those games while totaling seven QB pressures between the two contests.
This is the difficult part of Davenport’s free agency. He isn’t always capable of being on the field, but if he can ever figure out how to stay healthy throughout an entire season, the potential is very high.
During the 2021 season, Davenport put together nine sacks over the course of just 11 games. According to PFF, he had a pass-rush win percentage of 18.5%, which tied for fifth in the entire NFL among EDGE players with at least 200 pass-rushing snaps. The player he tied with? His future teammate Danielle Hunter.
On its surface, Davenport’s 2022 season seems like a flop, considering he recorded just half a sack over the course of 15 games. Once again, though, the pass-rusher constantly applied pressure on opposing QBs despite not being able to put up large sack numbers.
Davenport again had a solid pass-rush win percentage at 17.3%, which ranked 11th in the NFL among EDGEs with at least 200 pass-rushing snaps, ahead of players like Maxx Crosby, Hunter, and Montez Sweat.
The potential for Davenport is certainly there, and we saw it for about two games in Weeks 4 and 5 with the Vikings. However, does this potential fully outweigh the injury risk that has continuously popped up throughout Davenport’s career?
That is the question Minnesota has to answer this offseason as they decide how to build their roster for the 2024 season.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. 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.