The Most Unsung Vikings Move of the 2022 Offseason
In their cash-strapped way, the Minnesota Vikings conducted several impactful transactions this offseason.
Of course, onboarding a brand new general manager and head coach is a big deal in any sport, so those moves alone were seismic. Then, extending the core group of veteran players was noteworthy, determining the immediate course of the franchise as a “run it back” gameplan rather than “tear it down.” Later on, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah added free agents Za’Darius Smith, Chandon Sullivan, Harrison Phillips, Chris Reed, and Jesse Davis, among others.
But no move flew under the radar more than the free-agent acquisition of Jordan Hicks, a linebacker who previously spent time with the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles.
Onlookers of the Vikings will become intimately familiar with Hicks as he is emphatically not a role player or situational defender. The man does not come off the field. In each season since the start of 2018, Hicks played at least 92% of all defensive snaps for his team. Last year, in Arizona, he was on the field 97% of the time. It’s remarkable.
A 3rd-Rounder from the 2015 NFL Draft, Hicks will replace Anthony Barr — barring an unforeseen return from the veteran UCLA alumnus. Barr was a Mike Zimmer mainstay for eight years with the Vikings, now openly available on the free-agent wire but with few nibbles. When O’Connell was hired in February, he specifically name-dropped Barr as a player who’d excel in Ed Dontell’s defense — but then that was it for any Barr chatter.
In theory, Barr could re-sign with the Vikings, but the dialogue on that front has been oddly quiescent — which likely is a nod of the head to the “Hicks era” in Minnesota.
This is the Pro Football Focus track record from Hicks:
- 2015 = 80.9
- 2016 = 88.4
- 2017 = 64.3
- 2018 = 75.1
- 2019 = 61.0
- 2020 = 50.4
- 2021 = 64.4
At worst, he’s decent — at best, he’s fantastic. Not a bad value for $5 million per season.
Plus, for starting-caliber off-ball linebackers on the Vikings pre-draft roster, it’s Eric Kendricks, Hicks — and that’s it. The depth players behind Kendricks and Hicks are development types. This makes the vitality of Hicks’ presence on the depth chart paramount.
The man will play a lot.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).