One Early Free Agent Theory Vikings Could Pursue

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When the offseason hits for the Minnesota Vikings, all things quarterback will dominate the early agenda, with a side dish of Justin Jefferson’s contract extension saga.

One Early Free Agent Theory Vikings Could Pursue

And while those talkers will make sense, the club must address its EDGE rusher situation — either by re-signing Danielle Hunter or finding two new starting outside linebackers.

Only two EDGE defenders are under contract in Minnesota for 2024 — Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II. That probably won’t cut it in a starting lineup.

Well, there’s good news, according to Pro Football Focus. The Vikings could be in the free-agent mix for New England Patriots pass rusher Josh Uche.

Early Free Agent Theory
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PFF’s Brad Spielberger identified an early free-agent possibility for each NFL team, and for the Vikings, it was Uche, a 2nd-Round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft. A Michigan alumnus, Uche has played 46 career games while starting just 3.

“Uche has been remarkably efficient rushing the passer since a breakout 2022 season, but he is still logging around only 25 snaps a game as more of a rotational player. Uche has notched at least one quarterback pressure in every game this season on his way to a 17.7% pressure rate, picking up where he left off last season with 56 pressures on 285 pass-rush reps,” Spielberger wrote about Uche.

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The Patriots have a change-oriented offseason afoot, scheduled to pick second in the 2024 NFL Draft as of December 4th and all but certain to select USC’s Caleb Williams or North Carolina’s Drake Maye. It is unclear if Bill Belichick and friends will re-sign Uche.

Spielberger continued, “Uche may be too good for the Patriots to let go, but if they do, the Vikings could bring in a designated pass-rushing specialist without breaking the bank. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores is as good as anyone at utilizing different body types and skill sets along the defensive front.”

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The Uche theory also operates under the pretense that Flores will remain the Vikings’ defensive coordinator, which is a treacherous hypothesis. The former Miami Dolphins skipper has transformed the Vikings’ defense from a bottom-10 unit to a top-10 group in one offseason. He could fetch head coaching interest next month. We shall see.

Here’s the Uche tale of the tape from PFF:

2020: 77.6
2021: 60.9
2022: 83.1
2023: 60.7

Uche has tabulated 56 total tackles, 29 QB hits, 17.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in 46 games. Assuming Marcus Davenport won’t return due to splotchy injury history, Uche in purple and gold makes all the sense in the world.

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Plus, if Minnesota doesn’t re-sign Hunter, well, any and all pass rushers will be needed, almost as an emergency mission.

Uche was teammates with Vikings safety Josh Metellus for four seasons at the University of Michigan.


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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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