PFF Names Vikings as Potential Fit for 2 Top Remaining Free Agents 

Jun 5, 2018; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) speaks to the media members during veterans minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Some very intriguing free agents still exist on the open market.

Pro Football Focus took a look at the best landing spots for the top players still looking for new homes. While Minnesota wasn’t named the best landing spot for any, PFF named the Vikings a “potential fit” for two of the top remaining free agents, making as strong a case for the Vikings as they did a so-called best landing spot for one of them. 

The two players? JC Tretter and Akiem Hicks.

Neither is new on the radar. Both have been subject to discussion in Vikings circles. Rightly so, as both would make the Vikings a better team if they landed in Minnesota.

JC Tretter

Dec 20, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter (64) blocks Las Vegas Raiders outside linebacker K.J. Wright (34) during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Tretter is the one that PFF was pushing harder as a potential Viking. Here is what they had to say:

The NFLPA president has been a leader on and off the field throughout his career and was a salary-cap casualty of the Cleveland Browns this offseason despite still playing at a very high level. For the Miami Dolphins or Minnesota Vikings, Tretter would represent a significant upgrade at the center position. Tretter’s 83.7 pass-blocking grade in 2021 — his seventh straight season finishing above 80.0 — was almost 30 points better than Miami’s centers for the season and over 40 points better than Minnesota’s. While he’s not as prolific as a run blocker, he’s proven to be an above-average run blocker in an outside zone rushing attack, which both Miami and Minnesota are expected to utilize in 2022.

Brad Spielberger | Pro Football Focus

It is Miami who is named as the best landing spot, while Minnesota is with the Denver Broncos as “other potential fits.”

PFF projects a 2-year $12 million contract with $8.25 million guaranteed. Those numbers are intriguing and not unrealistic for the Vikings to make a deal — especially if they could trade Garrett Bradbury and save $4 million there. Of course, that’s all easier said than done, but if the Vikings are serious about being contenders this season, this is the type of move that needs to be made to show it.

Akiem Hicks

Akiem Hicks
Aug 29, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (96) sits on the bench during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

As for Akiem Hicks, PFF’s best landing spot is the Los Angeles Chargers.

He would be reunited with the group he had a career-best year with, earning an overall grade of 91.7 — namely edge defender Khalil Mack, head coach Brandon Staley and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers. With those links, the Chargers make perfect sense, and you would expect them to be the first port of call for Hicks. If there is no deal to be made, the Vikings are named as other potential fits alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The front three of the defensive line lack a pass-rushing presence who is also strong against the run. It’s something I believe the Vikings should address in the draft. However, if a deal for Akiem Hicks became possible, who says no? After years of him terrorizing the Vikings quarterback, it would be nice for Vikings fans to see him doing it for them.

As far as the Vikings and potential free agents go, there aren’t two better names to hear linked, in my opinion.

PFF projects a one-year, $6.5 million contract for Hicks. It would require more financial juggling for Rob Brzezinski, but one year of Hicks while developing a rookie replacement would be a dream.

It would take some work for either of these deals to happen, but if the Vikings really do think they can be contenders, aggressive moves to significantly improve the team are needed. 

See the 2021 Los Angeles Rams.

K.J. Osborn and Chad Beebe

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