Vikings “Express Interest” in A.J. Hawk, Other Free Agents

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Today marks the beginning of a three-day window in which agents and teams may have discussions to gauge free agent interest — a warm-up to the official start of the free agency period on Tuesday at 3 pm.

So far, the Vikings have quietly “expressed interest” in a handful of players. Take that information with a grain of salt, though — the tampering period is key to measuring the value of certain free agents and testing the interest of competing teams.

Below, we take a look at each potential free agent’s fit with the Vikings:

Adrian Clayborn, DE — Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In our preview of free agent defensive ends last week, we listed Adrian Clayborn as a high-profile player with the potential to contribute on Mike Zimmer’s defense. Clayborn is just 26 years old, but has missed substantial time with injuries — he missed 13 games in 2012 and another 15 in 2014. The Vikings’ current left defensive end, Brian Robison, saw a dip in his production last year, and addressing the rotation at the position is a critical need this offseason.

When healthy, Clayborn made an impact with the Buccaneers — in 2013, he finished the season with 5.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Unlike other available players, Clayborn will be relatively cheap, devalued because of a troubling injury history.

The former first-round draft pick has the talent to provide needed depth behind Robison, and could replace the aging defensive end in coming years.

Shaun Hill, QB — St. Louis Rams

Per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, a Vikings official reached out to one of Hill’s representatives early Saturday morning — the Vikings need to sign a backup to Teddy Bridgewater.

After trading Matt Cassel to the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday, the Vikings were left with one quarterback behind Bridgewater, the incomparable Christian Ponder. The team is not expected to re-sign their 2011 first-round draft pick, and Hill would be a competent backup to Teddy Bridgewater.

Hill played with the Vikings from 2002 to 2005 and has limited experience with current offensive coordinator Norv Turner, as the two worked together in San Francisco in 2006. At 35 years old, Hill is nothing more than an inexpensive security blanket to Bridgewater and a clear improvement over Ponder. In his final season with the Rams, Hill completed 145 passes for 1,657 yards and eight touchdowns.

Hill’s 2014 cap number was a mere $1.75 million, and he would be a much cheaper option than the soon-to-be departed Matt Cassel.

George Selvie, DE — Dallas Cowboys

Like Clayborn, George Selvie was listed as a Vikings free agent target in our defensive end preview. In 2014, Selvie finished the season with 3 sacks and started 29 of 32 games for the Cowboys. Selvie started 13 games last season, and may be heading into free agency seeking a full-time role elsewhere.

Both Brian Robison and Everson Griffen played more than 900 snaps last season, and would be better served with a solid rotation and periods of rest during games. Who do the Vikings trust more to fill that role? Last year’s 3rd-round draft pick, Scott Crichton, failed to make an impact when inserted into games, and will need to do more in 2015 to call that backup role his own.

For now, Selvie is a young, cheap free agent option who can spell either Griffen or Robison during the 2015 season.

A.J. Hawk, LB — Green Bay Packers (?!)

We kid you not — reports are flying out that the Vikings and Rick Spielman have “expressed interest” in former Green Bay linebacker A.J. Hawk.

It’s hard to explain this surprising turn of events, as the Vikings currently have an aging linebacker on the roster in Chad Greenway. Hawk was released by the Packers on February 25th, and suffered a major regression in his on-field performance last season.

I’d love to call this report “smoke and mirrors” on Rick Spielman’s part, but the Vikings have a history of signing former Packers — Greg Jennings and Brett Favre, to name a few.

We’ll wait and see what happens, but I’m hopeful that nothing will come of this “expressed interest”.

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