1 Pending Vikings Free Agent Quietly Played Fantastic

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have more than a dozen unrestricted free agents, including a handful of starters.

Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson is set to become a free agent, barring an extension. He has been playing at a high level, but that will only increase his salary. Cornerback Patrick Peterson looked a lot more like his prime self than in recent years, but, like many other Vikings, he is well past 30 years old, and it’s in question if he can replicate that level of play.

His position mate Duke Shelley had a career season, despite getting cut by the Bears in August. He flashed elite play once he got his chance to play in the second half of the season. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Shelley only signed a one-year deal. It will be interesting to see how high his salary will be and if the Vikings can bring him back.

Another free agent will be Greg Joseph. The kicker ended the season as a reliable kicker but started it as one of the worst, especially at hitting extra points. Most fans will remember his 61-yard game-winning field goal on Christmas Eve to beat the Giants.

Center Garrett Bradbury finally had his breakout season and is set to get paid in the offseason. When he missed the final five regular season games, the Vikings missed him in the middle of the offensive line. Bradbury is not the only offensive lineman whose contract is expiring.

1 Pending Vikings Free Agent Quietly Played Fantastic

Oli Udoh had to replace one of the elite linemen in the game once Brian O’Neill went down with an injury in Week 17 in Green Bay. Earlier in the year, Udoh wasn’t even the top backup, as the team inserted Blake Brandel into the lineup when Christian Darrisaw missed time. However, Brandel was hurt with a torn MCL, so Udoh was the next man up.

1 Pending Vikings Free Agent Quietly Played Fantastic
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

In 2021, Udoh was the starter at right guard for most of the season. He was infamously the most penalized player in the league. His false starts and holdings cost the Vikings drives and games. One problem was undoubtedly that he played out of position. He played offensive tackle in college and looked much better at offensive tackle at the pro level.

The Vikings replaced Udoh when they selected Ed Ingram in the draft, and he was demoted to backup offensive tackle. After O’Neill’s partially torn Achilles tendon, he received his chance.

Next Man Up Is Preferred for Vikings
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

In the three games, Udoh allowed exactly one quarterback pressure in each game, an excellent number. Three games are still a small sample size, but his level of play may have earned him a payday in free agency. Most NFL teams are desperate to find capable offensive linemen. The few good and proven available free agents sign with the highest bidders for an insane amount of money.

After the season’s conclusion, his PFF grade is 74.7, which would rank him in the top 25 among offensive tackles if he met the required number of snaps.

To have reliable backup offensive tackles is a big goal for every team. The Vikings will probably lose Udoh in free agency. Brandel is under contract for another year, and the team selected Vederian Lowe in the last draft.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The organization showed how much they valued Lowe when they kept him on the roster despite already having four offensive tackles. It’s unusual for a team to keep five offensive tackles on the roster.

Udoh appeared in 42 games for the Vikings and started 18 contests, including his first postseason matchup against the Giants.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt