A Trio of Cheaper Free Agents with the Potential to Do Damage for the Minnesota Vikings

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills
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Expect Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to pursue some huge names in free agency, seeking to onboard at least one or two major players as he moves his Vikings into the next step of the competitive rebuild.

Of course, the GM will have limits. Yes, there’s cap space, but resources are still finite, even after massaging the money in such a way as to allow for digestible cap charges in the short term. Agreeing to deals with the cheaper free agents — relatively speaking — will thus be necessary.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Indeed, the point is simply that Minnesota’s effort to enhance the roster talent — as Kevin O’Connell prophesied about not long ago — must involve doing some value shopping. After all, we’re still considering the team that’s being led by the value GM.

Adofo-Mensah will be hoping some of the more overlooked signings actually result in starters capable of tilting the games’ outcomes in the Vikings’ favor. Helping me to sift through the league’s vast array of players is Brad Spielberger’s Top 150 Free Agent Rankings, an annual must-read for those curious about free agency.

A Trio of Cheaper Free Agents to Consider

First, the players under consideration. Each of these guys would slide into positions of need and each are still in their mid-20s. Take a look:

1. Bryce Huff, Edge Rusher, New York Jets
2. Devin White, Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3. Gabriel Davis, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills

The Vikings desperately need to enhance their pass-rushing prowess. Brian Flores gets a lot of love for being so ready and willing to blitz, but there’s a pile of merit in being able to disrupt a QB with just four pass rushers. Finding pass-rush success with four men means having several players capable of beating a blocker with consistency.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) tries to get around New York Jets linebacker Bryce Huff (47).

Danielle Hunter will be a priority to re-sign, but he’s simply one piece within the pass-rushing puzzle (albeit a massively important one). Give the man some help.

The 25-year-old Huff is coming off of a 10-sack season for the New York Jets. He stands at 6’3”, 255 pounds and was playing under a $4.3 million deal in 2023. The age, production, and upside all point toward someone who will be looking for a nice raise, but he won’t be matching the numbers of a Brian Burns, Josh Allen (the Jacksonville edge rusher), or, indeed, Hunter.

Keep in mind that he hit the notable sack benchmark without starting a game and while playing only 480 snaps. ESPN’s pass-rush win rate has Huff at 8th overall (Spielberger similarly praises Huff’s pass-rushing efficiency), placing him ahead of players like Trey Hendrickson and Brian Burns. In other words, the Jet was quite efficient in his limited opportunities, so there’s some reason to believe he could shine even further with more chances.

Would a two or three-year deal get the job done, maybe with an average around $10-$12 million per season? Spielberger puts the estimate at a bit under $17 million per season. At that price, the critical details would be guarantees as the years progress and what kind of initial cap hit could be finagled.

Meanwhile, Devin White is a name to monitor.

The 5th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, White has seen his relationship with the Buccaneers decline a bit. At his best, he’s a menace as an off-ball linebacker since his athleticism allows him to be a sideline-to-sideline player and he’s aggressive enough to make a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jan 1, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) pressures Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

His most impressive season arrived in 2020 when he was a sophomore (he finished as a second-team All Pro). In that year, White had 9 sacks and 15 TFLs to go alongside his 140 tackles. His 4.42 speed means he tested faster than Justin Jefferson while standing at 6’0” and weighing 237 pounds.

He’s still only 25. Basically every detail — insane athleticism, youth, position of need, former high selection — points toward someone Kwesi would be interested in signing. Just imagine what Flores could do with a LB pairing of Ivan Pace and Devin White.

PFF predicts the deal will be just for a single season and $7 million. At that rate, the deal is more than worth it. A ton of upside, little risk.

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Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before a wild card game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

And then there’s Gabriel Davis, who has played in Buffalo for the duration of his four-year career. Davis would offer Minnesota something it doesn’t have: tremendous size at receiver. The 24-year-old is 6’2” and weighs 225 pounds. Partnering him with Jordan Addion (5’11”, 175) and Justin Jefferson (6’1″, 195) makes sense, at least on paper.

Davis’ 4.54 speed won’t wow anyone, but his yards-per-catch average is pretty nifty. On average, his receptions went for 16.6 yards in 2023 (Addison was at 13.0; Jefferson was at 15.8). Adding a receiver with size who can challenge defenses deep has its appeal, especially if Brandon Powell (who is 5’8”, 181) comes back as the WR4.

With Josh Allen tossing him the football, Davis put up 45 catches, 746 yards, and 7 TDs.

Jan 23, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis (13) celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFC Divisional playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Davis was chosen in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft, meaning he’s looking for the first major deal of his career. Not unlike Huff, though, Davis will need to operate from within a market with some huge names (Tee Higgins, Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, Michael Pittman).

PFF suggests that a single season deal with a $12 million price tag will get the job done. If that’s the case, then Minnesota may need to look elsewhere for help. If, however, the market resembles last year when several talented receivers accepted modest money, then the Vikings could add the long and strong Davis.

Currently, the Vikings have roughly $25 million in cap space. Expect that amount to grow by a considerable margin as Adofo-Mensah resolves the contract situations for Harrison Smith, Justin Jefferson, Harrison Phillips, Byron Murphy, and several other notable Vikings.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference 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.