A Huge Defensive Tackle with a Flores Connection is Hitting the Open Market. Will The Vikings Explore the Fit?

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Very soon, the NFL’s free agents will get to test the open market. The fateful day is scheduled for March 11th, so we’re sitting in the calm before the storm.

Of note, however, is what the Patriots decided to do with a huge defensive tackle. Per Tom Pelissero, New England has moved on from Lawrence Guy, a 6’4″, 315-pound defender: “The #Patriots are releasing veteran starting DL Lawrence Guy today, per source. New England is doing right by Guy — a two-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee — to let him go early. He should have a strong market.”

Anytime a former Patriots defender enters free agency, Vikings fans will perk up because of Brian Flores’ history. After all, Guy signed on with the Patriots in 2017 when Flores was still calling Foxborough home. The two will know each other.

Does Guy make sense in Minnesota?

Lawrence Guy, A Huge Defensive Tackle, is a Free Agent

Needing to play a game on February 20th would go poorly for Minnesota (for a variety of reasons).

Harrison Phillips would be locking down one of the spots along the defensive line, but then Flores would need to turn to Dean Lowry and Jaquelin Roy to fill the other two openings. The veteran disappointed last season and the soon-to-be sophomore still has much to prove. No doubt, depth is a concern up front, especially since Lowry is a cut candidate and Phillips needs his deal adjusted.

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Dean Lowry (94) and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, Guy is older than ideal for the Vikings since the defender will hit his 34th birthday on March 17th. Does he still have a role to play, though?

So often, folks, the issue isn’t that teams are dealing with bad players but with bad roles and/or bad contracts. Signing a veteran for a depth role at a modest price can be very beneficial, so don’t instinctively scoff at the Guy idea simply because he’s well into his 30s.

One of the main things working in his favor is that he gets moved all over the defensive front. In 2023, Guy picked up 239 snaps over the guard, 225 snaps over the tackle, and then 53 snaps along the outside. The breakdown in 2022 — 221/247/34 — and 2021 — 269/191/64 — tell a similar story of moving all over the line.

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
Dec 7, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Miotch Trubisky (10) throws under pressure from New England Patriots defensive lineman Lawrence Guy Sr. (93) during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. The Steelers lost 21-18. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing in Guy won’t be about ratcheting up the pass rush. Last year, the veteran snagged 38 tackles but didn’t have a single sack or QB hit. The goal would likely be to have a DT/DE who could slot in behind the starters as a versatile depth piece, someone capable of filling-in for an injured player or just giving solid reps throughout the course of a game.

Keep in mind, as well, that the Patriots have decided to move on from safety Adrian Phillips (again, per Pelissero): “The #Patriots are also releasing veteran safety Adrian Phillips, per source. So two veterans on defense gone as New England gets younger in the post-Bill Belichick era.” Phillips turns 32 at the end of March, so he’s also moving through the backend of his NFL career.

Vikings WR Coach Is in the Running to Be Bill Belichick's Next OC
Jan 8, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines in the second quarter game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

In the coming days, the NFL is going to see a pile of players get released. The end result is a major talent infusion. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Kevin O’Connell, and the rest of the Vikings’ leadership will be watching with keen interest (while also needing to make their own tough roster decisions).

Minnesota currently has a bit below $24 million in cap space but that’s a number that’s going to grow by a large amount.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.