Vikings Lose a Top Defender
The Minnesota Vikings added TE Josh Oliver (Ravens) and EDGE rusher Marcus Davenport (Saints) on Monday, lost Patrick Peterson (Steelers), Cameron Dantzler (Commanders), and Eric Kendricks (Chargers) — and then a nightcap arrived.
Indeed, 2023 free agency kicked off with a bang and ended with discouraging news late Monday. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who was on the team’s radar for a possible third season in purple, reportedly signed with Cleveland Browns.
Vikings Lose a Top Defender
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted, “Sources: The Browns are expected to sign former Vikings DT Dalvin Tomlinson, landing their coveted big-time defenders on Day 1 of free agency. He gets a 4-year deal worth $57M with $27.5M guaranteed.”
And that’s a chunky deal for Tomlinson, 28, who starts his third chapter after bolting from the New York Giants in 2021 to become a Viking for two seasons. Cleveland is led by former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, and Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah used to work in Cleveland, so there are ties all around the franchises, with Tomlinson to Cleveland as the latest item.
The Vikings are still clearing cap space to fulfill the NFL’s March 15th deadline, and $14.25 million per year for Tomlinson was apparently too rich for Adofo-Mensah’s blood. Minnesota will now absorb $7.5 in dead cap funds because of the way Tomlinson’s previous deal was structured.
The Browns run defense was stinky in 2022, ranking 28th in the NFL per rushing defense DVOA. Thankfully for their sake, run defense is Tomlinson’s specialty, and it will be stunning if Cleveland ranks near the bottom of the league once again in 2023.
Some Vikings fans weren’t fazed one iota by Tominlinson-to-Browns, though. VikingsCentral tweeted, “Browns, at that price, he’s all yours.”
Twitter user @funyjared echoed the same sentiment, “Way overpaid, see you later at that price.”
With Tomlinson heading southeasterly, Minnesota has a few options for replacement at his position. The club re-signed Khyiris Tonga to an affordable deal in February. Tonga somehow ranked as the NFL’s 13th-best interior defender in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus. He could be the next man up. Otherwise, DTs like Michael Brockers, Shelby Harris, Sheldon Rankings, and Jerry Tillery, among others, are available to sign in free agency. Or Adofo-Mensah can simply draft Bryan Bresee from Clemson next month and call it good.
Tomlinson was arguably the Vikings most consistent defender in 2022. He missed four games to injury, but aside from that, he simply didn’t have bad games. He’s not an elite Aaron Donaldish defensive tackle but is a steady eddy who clogs the middle of the trenches.
The Browns also employ Tomlinson’s former Viking teammate, Kellen Mond.
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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).