[NOTE: Click the links to see our free agency rankings for quarterbacks, running backs,fullbacks,tight ends, centers, guards, offensive tackles, wide receivers, safeties, cornerbacks, and linebackers. We’ll continue our way through all of the positions this week.]
Well, I have to start this one with a disclosure. The lines between a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker continue to blur more and more with each passing season. We have already done the linebacker rankings in a previous post, but there are plenty of 3-4 defensive ends on today’s list that would be best suited as outside linebackers if the Vikings were to sign them. Still, I wanted to keep these lists true to the current positions these guys are playing.
Okay, with that being said, onto the defensive end situation. The Vikings seem very solid with Jared Alllen, Brian Robison, and Everson Griffen each continuing to play at a high level. There has been talk that the Vikings might be best served to try and deal the aging Allen this offseason, but I think it is far more likely that they will try to extend his contract and ease the damage he does to the salary cap. The Vikings have talented pass rushers with intriguing developmental guys already in place behind the top three.
I wouldn’t expect them to throw a ton of money at this position during this offseason, but it never hurts to take a look at what might be available (while also scoping out an outside linebacker or two):
I’m only putting guys in this category if I think they could possibly be upgrades over one of our current starters, and the guy I think that most represents that type of talent is defensive end Michael Johnson of the Bengals. At age 26, Johnson is the exact age you want your big money free agent to be, and he is a Pro Bowl defender against both the run and the pass. He is likely to get slapped with the franchise tag.