Another Vikings Free Agent Gets the ‘Naughty List’ Treatment

Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA;Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) runs the ball against New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports.

Two weeks ago, the Minnesota Vikings were nominated as a ‘loser’ for the free-agent signing of tight end Josh Oliver by CBS Sports.

Fast forward to the third week of free agency, and it’s happening again, this time by The 33rd Team and Minnesota’s move to sign outside linebacker Marcus Davenport.

Another Vikings Free Agent Gets the ‘Naughty List’ Treatment

Oliver and Davenport were the Vikings Day No. 1 moves of free agency, adding a run-blocking tight end to bolster the ground game this September and acquiring Davenport to perhaps replace Za’Darius Smith, who tweeted goodbye about three weeks ago.

Naughty List
Jan 2, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports.

The 33rd Team’s Barry Wilner, a reporter for The Associated Press from 1985 to 2022, described the ‘seven worst signings’ of free agency, and Davenport found a way onto the naughty list. Wilner explained, “The Minnesota Vikings spent $13 million for 2023 to secure defensive end Marcus Davenport. Their defense was so mediocre that their runaway NFC North title looked bogus when the New York Giants handled them in the wild-card round.”

Vikings Top 2
Nov 17, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports.

“Thinking the answer is Davenport, who is skilled but too often injured, is wishful thinking. An underachiever since being selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, he hasn’t threatened quarterbacks (just 21.5 sacks in five seasons) the way Minnesota needs him to,” Wilner concluded.

Heading into free agency, however, Davenport was considered the top EDGE rusher by Pro Football Focus on the market, so somebody isn’t telling the truth or is flatly wrong. If Smith is truly gone-zo, the Vikings needed a pass rusher as a replacement unless they planned to roll with third-year defender Patrick Jones or use 1st-Round draft capital on a Will McDonald type.

Dec 19, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

Davenport, 26, joined the Vikings on a one-year, $13 million deal and will presumably start this autumn. He’s a product of the 1st Round of the 2018 NFL Draft and has played 63 games since, starting 32. For the Saints, Davenport tallied 142 total tackles, 60 QB hits, 25 tackles for loss, 21.5 sacks, and 7 force fumbles in five seasons. The criticisms on his resume are durability and consistency — probably why Wilner was unenthused.

Kevin Brown tweeted Davenport’s pressure statistics after the signing, “Davenport’s career pressure rate is 12.7%. Za’Darius Smith’s is 12.4%. Danielle Hunter is 13.2%. He is that caliber pass rusher, and only 26 years old.”

NewOrleans. Football’s Mike Triplett also opined on the Vikings-Davenport relationship two weeks ago, “Davenport’s market was impossible to predict because of his injury history and inconsistent production. But this feels like a steal. Low risk with such a potentially high reward. Such a shame it didn’t pan out in New Orleans.”

Other moves panned by Wilner? QB Sam Darnold to the San Francisco 49ers, WR Jakobi Meyers to the Las Vegas Raiders, RB David Montgomery to the Detroit Lions, and Jarrett Stidham to the Denver Broncos, among a couple of others.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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