Which Vikings Free-Agent Signings Were a Success?
There were many signings made in free agency by the Minnesota Vikings, intending to get the team back into the playoffs.
That didn’t happen.
And though the season as a whole was a failure, that doesn’t mean each player individually was a bad signing. These are the Vikings free-agent signings one could consider successful,
Starting with special teams — a disaster in 2020 — this led to a significant revamp under the guidance of new special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken. After some early struggles, Greg Joseph became one of the league’s more reliable kickers. He made 33 of 38 field goals, at an 86.8% success rate, the 11th best in the league. Seven of nine made from 50+ proves he has the leg for the big kicks. After the disappointment in Arizona, he came back to kick two successful walk-off winning field goals. He finished the season with just one miss in the last 11 games. If the Vikings can bring him back for the minimum contract he had this season, it would be a no-brainer for the sequel.
Jordan Berry put together a solid punting season with a 46.5 yards average. That was the 12th best average in the league. He impressed with big punts when backed up, which is exactly what you need from your punter. At the same time, Dede Westbrook handled the punt returning duties with an assurance that was a delight after last season’s horror show. He had minimal involvement in the offense but performed well in his primary role.
The rest of the war chest was spent on the failed attempt to fix the Vikings defense, though some players did better than others. Dalvin Tomlinson was the big-money signing earning $22 million over two years. Tomlinson’s most redeeming feature could arguably be availability — due to a defensive line that saw Danielle Hunter lost to a season-ending injury, Everson Griffen to mental health, and Michael Pierce for half the season to injury and illness. Thankfully, the Vikings managed to get 16 games out of the former New York Giant — he missed one game due to a positive Covid-19 test.
Tomlinson had a solid season earning a 74.9 grade from Pro Football Focus, which was 14th highest in the league amongst interior defensive linemen. He had some very good games, and in some others, he struggled a bit more. Considering the inconsistent personnel on the defensive front seven all season long, that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Injuries will happen, and Covid-19 is still a problem, but finding consistency from starters on the defensive front will be key next season.
The other player the Vikings spent decent money on was Patrick Peterson, a cool $8 million for one season. At 31, Peterson might not be the elite player he once was, but he was still the best corner on the Vikings roster this season — which, unfortunately, remained a bit of a mess. There’s still a role for Peterson in Minnesota if he wants it and the money is right.
Sheldon Richardson took a while to get going but finished the season as a makeshift defensive end. He performed the role well as the team started to run out of options at the position. One of the reasons that came about was the loss of Everson Griffen, who looked right at home back in Minnesota. Sadly mental health issues cut his season short.
The last player who had a reasonably good season is Xavier Woods. It was a bit inconsistent, as he had some good games and some bad ones. He finished with three interceptions and 10 pass deflections. However, there were also times he was beaten badly in coverage and whiffed on tackles.
These were the Vikings free-agent signings I’d consider a success. One issue the Vikings had this season was that these were the guys that were the better signings. Other than maybe the kicker and the punter, it’s probably fair to say they weren’t as good as they could be, or we hoped they might be.