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Free Agent Defensive End Rankings

[NOTE:  Click the links to see our free agency rankings for quarterbacksrunning backs,fullbacks,tight endscentersguardsoffensive tackleswide receiverssafeties, 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):

Top Tier

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.

Next up is a guy that is probably not very well suited for the Vikings defensive scheme unless he plays outside linebacker.  Baltimore’s Paul Kruger is a very talented pass rusher that is plenty capable of covering any number of NFL tight ends and running backs.  His talents would be a waste as an outside linebacker in Minnesota, so don’t consider this a very likely scenario, as fun as it is to dream.  If Baltimore has to use their franchise tag on quarterback Joe Flacco, then Kruger could end up on the open market, but I expect a 3-4 team to be the most willing to pay the man what he deserves.

Tampa Bay’s Michael Bennett has quietly put together a very solid career on a team that has struggled to establish itself.  If for some reason the Vikings found themselves in the market for a run stuffing left end (which they’re not) then Bennett would have to be near the top of that list.  Tampa will likely make retaining his services a big priority this offseason, and they will have the cap space to make it happen.

Second Tier

4.  Anthony Spencer, DAL

5.  Cliff Avril, DET

6.  Connor Barwin, HOU

7.  William Hayes, STL

8.  Israele Idonije, CHI

9.  Shaun Phillips, SD

10.  Dwight Freeney, IND

11.  Osi Umenyiora, NYG

12.  Kyle Vanden Bosch, DET

Third Tier

13.  Trevor Scott, NE

14.  Andre Carter, OAK

15.  Patrick Chukwurah, SEA

16.  Jason Hunter, DEN

17.  Dave Ball, TEN

18.  Clark Haggans, SF

19.  Antwan Barnes, SD

20.  Darryl Tapp, PHI

21.  Lawrence Jackson, DET

22.  Quentin Groves, ARI

23.  Jarius Wynn, TEN

24.  Matt Shaughnessy, OAK

25.  Kyle Moore, BUF

26.  Shawne Merriman, BUF

The Rest

27.  Juqua Parker, CLE

28.  Victor Butler, DAL

29.  Wallace Gilberry, CIN

30.  Keyunta Dawson, TEN

31.  Bryan Thomas, NYJ

32.  Jamaal Westerman, IND

33.  Lawrence Sidbury, ATL

34.  Jesse Nading, HOU

35.  Edgar Jones, KC

36.  Turk McBride, NO

37.  Chris Wilson, WAS

38.  Antwan Applewhite, CAR

39.  Frostee Rucker, CLE

40.  Robert Geathers, CIN

41.  Erik Walden, GB

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. A year from now this list could have 3 Vikings leading the way with Allen, Robi, and Griffen all in contract years.

    1. thats why I’m hoping they atleast extend one of the “young” guys in B Rob or Griffen this year.

  2. Also a little update to WR and TE in free agency, Kevin Boss and Steve Breston just got released

  3. I think Barwin deserves to be in the top tier over Bennett. I know they’re aging but seeing Freeney and Vanden-Bosch so low is depressing.
    I also think Kruger would be better in Minnesota than most think. He wouldn’t play de but instead play a Von Miller role where he could excel. That said there’s no way he comes here but it could be sweet, imagine that front 7 with a decent draft…
    Re: Jared Allen
    DT: K Williams/Ballard
    NT: Jesse Williams/?(maybe Guion)
    Le: Robison/Griffin
    OLB: Greenway
    Mlb: Teo?
    OLB: Kruger

  4. a reporter-stalker asked harvin for his trade rumor response and got shut down. wish harvin would’ve at least said something positive, as ponder did the other day about percy. don’t wanna lose ph, but it doesn’t look good, and the more i think about it, the more i like the idea of just keeping kluwe

    1. I would like to go ahead and invite every reporter to stay away from Percy Harvin until there is a resolution to what is going on between him and the team. I was actually relieved that all he did was say no comment. The guy showed up on his doorstep uninvited to grill him about possible trades. I’m glad he didn’t blow a gasket or beat the crap out of him. That would’ve been a great way to kill any possible trade value he may have.

  5. Malte -WR Steve Breaston is intriguing. How cheap can we get him?
    If we keep Harvin and draft a WR (Justin Hunter 2nd Rd) J Wight, Breaston Greg Childs or S Burton would round out the WR Corp.

    I like Hunter, D Hopkins or Q Patton in round 2 (might need to trade up).

    Breaston could help our young group of WRs… if we could sign him cheaper than Simpson, M. Jenkins or Aromashudo, I would go for it.

    As for free agent DE… I say pass. I would however take a long look at drafting Alex Okafor.
    Okafor would be a good value pick at #23 – and Grffen and Okafor would be a solid long term option at DE for the Vikings. Don’t think it will happen… But Okafor was a stud in the Alamo bowl.

    1. don’t you think it’s a “risk” taking a DE in the first round with 3 very good once on the team? I know all of them are on the last year of their deals next year, but honestly Okafor will most likely not even see 5 % snaps in games the first year.