Free Agency Market Gets Another Injection of Talent (and Possible Vikings Targets) after Recent Releases

Dec 11, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) takes to the field prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

While legal tampering has been going on for two days, NFL free agency officially started on Wednesday.

As a result, teams officially began announcing that they would be signing players that they have spent the past couple days negotiating with. However, it also meant that teams had to make final decisions on a few players that they had planned to cut. As the new league year arrives, here is a look at some of the influx of talent that the free agency market has seen come its way.

DT Arik Armstead

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers
Dec 11, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91) reacts after the 49ers made a defensive stop on third down against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Arik Armstead was the 17th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and he has spent each of his first nine NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. However, the team has officially opted to release him. Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweeted, “#49ers officially released Arik Armstead. He has interest from #Texans #Bengals #Lions among others, per league sources.”

The Vikings have utilized this offseason to fill in some of their holes at edge rusher, but they still do not have a truly dominant defensive tackle presence to help take the pressure off new players like Jonathan Greenard or Andrew Van Ginkel. Armstead and his 33.5 career sacks could do just that.

CB Xavien Howard

Dec 25, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) takes to the field prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve known for some time that CB Xavien Howard would be hitting the open market when the new league year began. Now that it is, after spending his entire eight-year NFL career with the Miami Dolphins, the veteran cornerback is officially a free agent.

As such, it could open up an opportunity to reunite with his former head coach, Brian Flores, in Minnesota. Howard will turn 31 years old in July, so age could be a factor in the coming years, but he has remained a very productive player over the past few seasons.

DT Jerry Tillery

Oct 1, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (90) has words with Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) after he was called for unnecessary roughness by referee John Hussey (35) with a late hit on Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) in the first half at SoFi Stadium. Tillery was ejected from the game. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Again, the Vikings need to find some sort of help along their defensive line. They brought back Jonathan Bullard on Wednesday afternoon, but with the release of Dean Lowry a day earlier, Minnesota still only employs three players at the defensive tackle spot in Bullard, Harrison Phillips, and Jaquelin Roy.

Jerry Tillery, a 2019 first-round pick, could be an option for Minnesota as a depth player rather than a star such as Armstead mentioned above. Tillery played all 17 games for the Raiders this past season and put together 31 tackles, a pair of sacks, and a fumble recovery.

Pelissero reported the news of his (and multiple other Raiders) release, tweeting, “The #Raiders have officially released QB Jimmy Garoppolo, QB Brian Hoyer, WR Hunter Renfrow and DT Jerry Tillery.”

WR Hunter Renfrow

Free Agency
Sep 24, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) warms up before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter Renfrow had a very strong season in 2021, catching 103 passes for 1038 yards and 9 TDs. However, since Josh McDaniels came in as head coach of the Raiders, Renfrow’s production has fallen off a cliff. Over the past two seasons, Renfrow has caught just 61 passes for 585 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Considering his drop off in production, the Raiders have decided to release the veteran receiver after five seasons with the team as reported by Pelissero in the same tweet regarding Tillery. However, Renfrow is only 28 years old and very well could have plenty of productive football ahead of him. If he were to hop aboard the Vikings, he could be, at the very least, an extremely reliable WR3.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

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.