PFF Suggests Vikings Could Land Future Hall of Famer in 2024
Free agency in the NFL is just over a month away, and there are a number of intriguing names on this year’s list of players set to hit the open market.
Of course, a few of those players are from the Minnesota Vikings’ roster, including QB Kirk Cousins and OLB Danielle Hunter. While the Vikings will have to make a decision regarding whether or not they want to bring these players back, they will also need to find players to bring into the fold to improve the team.
PFF’s Brad Spielberger recently listed potential landing spots for free agent running backs, and an interesting connection he made involved Derrick Henry, a future Hall of Famer, coming to Minnesota for this upcoming season.
PFF Suggests Vikings Could Land Future Hall of Famer
Here is Spielberger’s defense of the idea:
Minnesota’s rushing attack was one of the least efficient across the NFL this past season, and they may also be looking to bring along a young quarterback whether or not they keep Kirk Cousins in the fold. This front office may not be viewed as one very likely to pay top dollar to the running back position, especially after they sharply moved on from Dalvin Cook before the 2023 season, but maybe there’s enough of a buy-low opportunity here on Henry.
To speak on some of the inefficiencies that Spielberger mentions regarding Minnesota’s rushing attack in 2023, the Vikings finished the year 28th in total carries, 29th in rushing yards, tied for 24th in yards per carry, and worst of all, tied for last in rushing touchdowns.
Three of their seven rushing touchdowns on the season can be attributed to Josh Dobbs. Not only was there no balance between the passing and rushing attack, but Spielberger is very correct to assert that, when they did run the ball, there simply wasn’t any efficiency behind it.
As a result, Henry is a pretty intriguing target for the Vikings in free agency, despite the fact that he is a 30-year-old running back.
Since taking over the full-time starting job in 2018 for Tennessee, Henry has surpassed 1000 rushing yards five times, and the only season in which he didn’t accomplish the feat was 2021 when he amassed 937 yards in just eight games before missing the remainder of the campaign with an injury.
All signs have pointed to 2023 being Henry’s final season in a Titans uniform, and while the 30-year-old has certainly taken a bit of a step back in terms of his explosiveness, he has proven he is still capable of putting together massive games.
Look no further than his Week 18 performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in which Henry willed the Titans to a win and spoiled Jacksonville’s playoff hopes by totaling 153 rushing yards and a touchdown on his 19 carries. It was his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season. The 2023 Vikings got only one such game from a running back this season (Ty Chandler in Week 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals).
While Henry’s best days as a workhorse back may be behind him, the area that really might make him an intriguing target for Minnesota is his efficiency in the red zone. According to Fantasy Pros, Alexander Mattison totaled 23 carries in the red zone this season and mustered a paltry 21 yards on those carries, an average of 0.9 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Chandler got just 11 carries in the red zone for 24 yards and scored three times.
While Henry might not be able to put together massive rushing totals on a regular basis anymore, he remains a beast near the goal line. His 34 carries in the red zone this season resulted in 88 yards and a whopping nine touchdowns, which ranked tied for sixth among NFL running backs.
At the end of the day, Henry likely recognizes that the days of him being a true workhorse back in the NFL are coming to an end. However, the Vikings could revitalize their rushing offense by allowing the young legs of Chandler pick up chunk yards in the open field while giving Henry the chance to bowl over defenders with his 250-pound frame near the goal line.
Henry isn’t the only running back that Spielberger connected to the Vikings, though. In addition, Devin Singletary could be a free agency target for Minnesota this spring as well as their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers. Here is what Spielberger had to say about the five-year veteran and his fit in either Green Bay or Minnesota:
Singletary showed proficiency as a zone runner in Houston, becoming the starting back in Week 9 and earning a 79.4 rushing grade from that point forward, which ranked 18th at the position. Singletary’s 2.9 yards after contact per attempt ranked inside the top 30 despite his size, and he was leaned on more and more as a check-down outlet, as well. Green Bay may prefer a bigger pack to pair with Aaron Jones, not just because of the loss of A.J. Dillon, but Singletary is a solid piece of a rotation.
The Vikings are going to add a running back in some form or fashion, and perhaps they continue to deploy a committee approach with lower-cost options instead of making a bigger splash.
Singletary spent the 2023 season with the Houston Texans, totaling 216 carries for 898 yards and four touchdowns. The 26-year-old is an efficient runner, but what would make him especially intriguing are his capabilities as a receiver. The running back has totaled 30+ receptions in four of his first five NFL seasons.
Regardless of which players the Vikings ultimately target, the running back position should be one where Minnesota explores their options to improve the rushing attack in 2024.
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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.