Vikings Need Contribution from Free Agent Newcomer

This Is the Week You Cheer for the Packers
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; A Minnesota Vikings fan. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings will attempt to get off the schneid on Sunday afternoon, looking for a win over the winless Los Angeles Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The point spread has fluctuated throughout the week, but as of Thursday evening, Minnesota is favored by one point to take down Los Angeles.

Vikings Need Contribution from Free Agent Newcomer

And whether it’s Week 3, Week 4, or soon after, the Vikings desperately need a contribution from one of their keynote offseason acquisitions, pass rusher Marcus Davenport.

Contribution from Free
Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marcus Davenport addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Davenport joined the Vikings in March of 2023 after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

The former New Orleans Saint has hardly played in two games, nursing an ankle injury that allowed him to hit the field for just four defensive snaps. Minnesota’s defense has improved on paper from 2022 to 2023, but it still needs some pass-rushing juice to climb the NFL’s defensive pecking order.

So far, Danielle Hunter has sponsored almost all of the outsider linebacker-driven pass rush, leading the NFL in sacks with 4 and tackles for loss with 5. His Pro Football Focus score is underwhelming, but Hunter is very much doing his part to ensure the purple team’s defense remains afloat.

Sooner rather than later, Hunter needs help — in the form of Davenport.

These Are the 6
Nov 7, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) is blocked by Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Jake Matthews (70) during the second half at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports.

Davenport was signed in March to fill the Za’Darius Smith or Everson Griffen role from recent Vikings history, but to date, he hasn’t experienced meaningful playtime time. Of course, the ankle injury isn’t his fault, nor should he be criticized, yet on the field, Minnesota needs reinforcements.

The Vikings outside linebackers grade as follows, according to PFF:

  • Danielle Hunter (56.5)
  • D.J. Wonnum (55.2)
  • Pat Jones II (27.9)

If you didn’t know about Hunter’s performance from watching weekly or examining his statistics, one would think the Vikings pass rush is woeful.

Outside of Hunter, that is true.

Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) tackles New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2023 season is young, and Wonnum or Jones II could turn it around and bust out at any time with a mammoth game. Wonnum is a fairly steady contributor, and Jones II showed flashes of promise in 2022, especially in a game at the Miami Dolphins.

But in depth-chart-speak, Wonnum and Jones II are backup EDGE rushers, supporting Hunter and Davenport at spots in games. At the moment, Wonnum and Jones II are called upon to play starters’ minutes, a plan working in varying degrees of success.

Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) throws an interception as he is pressured by New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

If Wonnum and Jones II continue their meh productivity and Davenport is sidelined for more games, men like Andre Carter II and Benton Whitley, in theory, could step in and produce in Brian Flores’ defense. Those are hopeful maybes, however, and the system would run smoother if Davenport were simply on the field.

The Vikings onboarded Davenport for one year and $13 million, and to make the investment worthwhile, they need him in the lineup. Preferably soon.

Davenport logged a 76.8 PFF score in 2022.

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