With more vivacity than any offseason involving Minnesota Vikings heach coach Mike Zimmer to date, general manager Rick Spielman attacked the defensive slate of his itinerary. When Zimmer was anointed leader in 2014, he ushered in an era of defense in Minnesota, canceling the lousy philosophy from 2013. The Vikings were the NFL’s worst defense via points allowed that season, allowing an even-steven 30.0 points per game to all comers.
Zimmer instantly fixed that. The Vikings jumped from 30th to 11th in the points-allowed parameter in just one season.
Then in 2020, the Vikings were naughty on defense once again. Zimmer’s crew allowed 29.7 points per game, en route to a 29th standing in the metric. Based on the signings conducted by Spielman since March, it is wildly evident that the defensive ineptitude ate a hole in Zimmer’s stomach for a few months.
Free agents aplenty were seized to right the ship. These are the free agents that joined the team from March to mid-June. Note that all of them are defensive players:
- Mackensie Alexander (CB)
- Bashaud Breeland (CB)
- Amari Henderson (CB)
- Parry Nickerson (CB)
- Patrick Peterson (CB)
- Sheldon Richardson (DT)
- Tye Smith (CB)
- Dalvin Tomlinson (DT)
- Nick Vigil (LB)
- Stephen Weatherly (DE)
- Xavier Woods (S)
And that’s just defensive free agents. Here are the draft spoils:
- Virginia Tech — OT Christian Darrisaw
- Texas A&M — QB Kellen Mond
- North Carolina — LB Chazz Surratt
- Ohio State — G Wyatt Davis
- Pittsburgh — DE Patrick Jones II
- Iowa State — RB Kene Nwangwu
- California — S Camryn Bynum
- Florida State — EDGE Janarius Robinson
- Iowa — WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette
- Central Missouri — TE Zach Davidson
- Pittsburgh — DT Jalen Twyman
Hire an offensive coordinator in Klint Kubiak, a WR coach with Keenan McCardell, a Special Teams coordinator in Ryan Ficken, and dab a trade with the Arizona Cardinals for offensive lineman Mason Cole – a Vikings offseason is born.
CBS Sports endorses the Vikings efforts. Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports took notice. He ranked all NFL teams’ offseasons, and the Vikings ranked #6 leaguewide. Benjamin said about the Vikings:
“We’re not going to argue if you put a cap on their ceiling so long as Kirk Cousins is under center, but it’s hard to find much wrong with what Minnesota did in prep for a potential make-or-break year at QB. Mond may not challenge until 2022, but his presence should at least motivate Cousins. Better yet, the defense feels like a safe bet to return to form. Tomlinson and Richardson instantly improve the D-line alongside a healthier Danielle Hunter, and both Peterson and Breeland bring stability to a young secondary. Do we smell an NFC sleeper?”
Normally, sleeper is a term assigned to the Vikings by the die-hardest of fans. Alas, though, a national entity is taking notice. In fact, this is one of the first notable occasions that Minnesota is not roped into a ‘mediocre’ category of expectations.
All that was needed, apparently, for was some national attention was a commitment from Danielle Hunter to join the team and the free-agent grab of Sheldon Richardson.
The party may not be over – Spielman still has roughly $14 million in free-agent dollars to monkey with.