Vikings Are a Perfect Fit for Remaining Top Free Agent

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Many top free agents flew off the board in March on the first couple of days after free agency opened before it went quiet for a while. The NFL, teams, fans, and media, shifted their focus to the draft.

After the draft, some free agents are still available, and teams that missed out on their targets must fill the roster holes by signing free agents. One of the best available ones, a defender, is an excellent fit for the Vikings.

Vikings Are a Perfect Fit for Remaining Top Free Agent

Vikings Are a Perfect Fit for Remaining Top Free Agent
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Their defense held the Vikings back in the 2022 campaign, and they realized it. They got rid of half of their starting defenders, and the defensive coordinator was released and replaced by Brian Flores.

Minnesota has some talented players and tried to add to that in the last two drafts, the first two in the tenure of GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, Brian Asamoah, and Mekhi Blackmon were all drafted within the first three rounds. In addition to that, Adofo-Mensah signed two of the top free agents on defense, pass rusher Marcus Davenport and cornerback Byron Murphy.

New talent, a younger unit, and a fresh coach with a different scheme are the three reasons for optimism among Vikings’ fans after enduring three seasons of subpar defensive play.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
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The talent level was lowered when the team traded away Za’Darius Smith to the Browns a couple of months after he truculently requested his release. Minnesota has already replaced him with the Davenport signing but could get back to having three fantastic edge rushers on the team by signing another one. Leonard Floyd, a former Bears and Rams star, is available.

Floyd entered the league as a first-round pick for the Chicago Bears in 2016. Chicago traded up a couple of spots to get him. He recorded 7 sacks as a rookie in only 12 games. The edge rusher only sacked QBs 11.5 times in the next three campaigns combined, an underwhelming number for a former top-10 pick which is why the Bears let him walk after his rookie agreement expired.

He signed a one-year prove-it deal in Los Angeles with the Rams, who looked to add an edge rusher to the defense led by Aaron Donald. That deal was similar to the one Davenport signed with the Vikings.

Floyd fired up a career-high 10.5 sacks, which earned him a four-year contract for $64 million. He followed up his top sack total by recording 9.5 and 9 sacks in the last two campaigns. The Rams released him to save cap space, but he still has a lot left in the tank. He is 30 years old but still one of the top guys available and can give every team looking for some pass-rush help a huge boost.

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Teams in the NFL in the 2020s rotate their defensive linemen and edge rusher to keep them fresh and healthy. A three-player rotation between Danielle Hunter, Marcus Davenport, and Leonard Floyd would be a scary sight for offenses because they could rotate to get a breather without weakening the lineup.

Floyd would likely command a nice salary, but the Vikings can afford it after getting Smith off the books. Running back Dalvin Cook is widely expected to depart from the organization by trade or release. The salary cap situation hasn’t been this good in Minnesota for a while now.

Sep 25, 2022; Glendale, Ariz., U.S.; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is grabbed by Los Angeles Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd (54) during the second quarter at State Farm Stadium. Nfl Los Angeles Rams At Arizona Cardinals

Adding another guy to the defensive unit would make the task of Brian Flores to rebuild his branch a lot easier. A top-notch pass rush always helps the defense overall, especially the unproven cornerback room would immensely benefit. One of last year’s rookies, Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans, or 2023 rookie Mekhi Blackmon are expected to start, despite the lack of experience. Creating a strong pass rush and disrupting the timing while forcing the QB to get rid of the ball quickly will be a massive part of the potential defensive turnaround.

Another wrinkle that makes depth at Floyd’s position necessary is the injury history of the two projected starters. Both Hunter and Davenport missed a lot of time in their careers. Davenport, with many different injuries, has never played a full season, while Hunter missed most of the 2020 and 2021 seasons with a herniated disc and a torn pectoral muscle. If one of them were to go down, the depth would get tested, and the defense would be stuck with a significant downgrade.

Signing Floyd, who knows some of the Vikings coaches, including Kevin O’Connell, from their times in Los Angeles, might not be cheap, but it would make the job of many people a whole lot easier.

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