Last week, Vikings Territory hinted that Derek Barnett could make sense for the Minnesota Vikings via trade if general manager Rick Spielman was interested in bolstering the 2021 defensive line — should the additions of Dalvin Tomlinson, Michael Pierce, Sheldon Richardson, Patrick Jones II, Stephen Weatherly, and Janarius Robinson not be considered “enough.” That’s a lot of personnel, to be sure, but it is unclear if any of those men fit the mold of true-blue starting EDGE rusher for a Vikings defense that must return to normalcy in terms of pass rush in 2021.
The departure of Everson Griffen left a vacuum on the depth chart, one not totally filled as of yet. Griffen is even available in free agency.
After Vikings Territory floated the Barnett idea, Bleacher Report ran with it a few days later. Therefore, there are some theories twisting in the wind that the Vikings could stand to upgrade a bit at RDE.
Well, another NFC name is whispered, too. Marcus Davenport, an EDGE rusher for the New Orleans Saints, could reasonably fit on the 2021 Vikings. Before the 2021 NFL Draft, WhoDatDish.com, a Saints-themed website, mentioned Davenport as a draft-night trade candidate. Writer Nathan Beighle of WhoDatDish said on the trade possibility then of Davenport:
“The New Orleans Saints have given Marcus Davenport ample opportunities to succeed. He just hasn’t been able to turn into that dominant rusher that the Saints were hoping he could be when taking him 14th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Davenport has also struggled with injury, one reason Trey Hendrickson was able to leap him in the depth chart and create a name for himself. Hendrickson went on to post 13.5 sacks, tied for the league’s second-most. While his value on the market may be relatively unknown, Davenport could draw a Day 2 pick.”
Davenport, who is more affordable than the aforementioned Barnett, could start for the Vikings amid its current hodgepodge of EDGE rushers. Barnett is slated to earn $10 million in the fifth-and-final year of his rookie deal whereas Davenport enters his fourth year this season, banking $4.3 million. Then, Davenport will make close to $10 million in 2022, the final season on his rookie contract.
In the 37 career games, Davenport has tabulated 12 sacks. Since 2019, he’s also responsible for 43 quarterback pressures per Pro-Football-Reference.com. And that’s a figure derived from about 45% of defensive snaps in which Davenport has played for the Saints in the last two seasons.
The Saints used their 1st-Round draft pick in April on Payton Turner, an EDGE rusher from the University of Houston. If he climbs the depth chart sooner than expected, Davenport may be quasi-expendable.
While there is no tangible evidence that Spielman is pursuing another defensive end via trade, most onlookers to the Vikings thought the team was “set” in the summer of 2020. But then Minnesota sent a 2nd-Round draft choice to Jacksonville for Yannick Ngakoue. Stranger things have happened.
Davenport will be 25 years old in September. His Pro Football Focus grades are as follows:
- 2018 = 73.3
- 2019 = 84.1
- 2020 = 71.8
On the whole, he is a fairly balanced player, mixing in pass-rushing and run-stopping talents effectively.
He would likely be available to the Vikings for a 3rd or 4th-Round draft pick.