4 Free Agents Who Should Be on Vikings Radar

The Vikings Will Stay Close to Home in 2023
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have four days until the preseason begins, 23 days until 53-man roster trimdowns, and five weeks before the start of the 2023 regular season.

Business is picking up.

4 Free Agents Who Should Be on Vikings Radar

Last year, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah showed his affinity for late-summer roster additions with trades for quarterback Nick Mullens and wide receiver Jalen Reagor. If he wishes to do so again in 2023 and consults free agency for newcomers, these four players should be on his radar. They’re listed alphabetically.

1. Ronald Darby (CB)

4 Free Agents Who
Oct 27, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby (21) celebrates a defensive play against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

This one is perhaps in motion, or at least, the seeds have been planted.

Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling tweeted on the X app Thursday, “The Vikings worked out veteran cornerback Ronald Darby today. Darby tore his ACL with the Broncos last October. If he’s healthy, he could be an option to add a veteran presence to the secondary at some point.”

A Super Bowl champion in 2017 — he was a part of the Eagles squad that shellacked the Vikings en route to Super Bowl LII — Darby should be gettable for cheap this late in free agency. He’s just waiting on the call.

This is Darby’s Pro Football Focus history since joining the NFL as a 2nd-Round pick in 2015:

  • 2015: 75.8
  • 2016: 68.3
  • 2017: 79.9
  • 2018: 70.6
  • 2019: 44.8
  • 2020: 76.0
  • 2021: 61.1
  • 2022: 71.1

If the Vikings don’t sign Darby, they’ll enter the 2023 season with Byron Murphy, Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth, Joejuan Williams, and Mekhi Blackmon at cornerback — an extremely inexperienced group.

2. Andrew Norwell (OG)

Nov 14, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Commanders guard Trai Turner (53), center Tyler Larsen (69), guard Andrew Norwell (68), and offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. (72) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Unlike Darby, the Vikings haven’t worked out Norwell since his release by Washington two weeks ago. But they should contemplate an audition.

Here’s his Pro Football Focus resume from 2014 to present:

  • 2014: 74.9
  • 2015: 80.1
  • 2016: 77.3
  • 2017: 76.2
  • 2018: 70.5
  • 2019: 65.5
  • 2020: 67.9
  • 2021: 66.7
  • 2022: 59.8

Norwell’s pass protection consistently outranks his run-blocking, and that tendency is typically the opposite for any Vikings guard from the last decade or so. Norwell would adeptly protect quarterback Kirk Cousins if signed by the Vikings — and yes, that’s the same Cousins who was victimized by the most QB hits leaguewide in 2022.

And that skillset is similar to the next guy.

3. Dalton Risner (OG)

Aug 21, 2020; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

Risner had a workout in Minnesota about a week ago, but no contract has been agreed upon yet.

His PFF resume since turning pro four years ago is as follows:

  • 2019 = 64.4
  • 2020 = 61.3
  • 2021 = 68.5
  • 2022 = 61.1

Kevin O’Connell spoke about the possibility of adding Risner a few days ago, “We really just wanted to bring him in and get to know him a little bit better, use the process of a visit to do that and see if we could possibly take what we think is a strong group and make it even better.”

Similar to Darby, this one is alive and well.

4. Ndamukong Suh (DT)

Forget 1 Free
Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (74) smiles to the crowd before the start of the third quarter of Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota was interested in Suh last summer, but no deal came together, and Suh became a Philadelphia Eagle. He’s a free agent once again and plans to sign somewhere later this month or in the fall.

Well, the Vikings lost defensive tackle James Lynch on Thursday night to an ACL tear, creating a sudden depth need on the defensive line. Suh would be perfect for the job and add experience to an otherwise young Vikings defense.

Suh would likely be the most expensive name on the list, but Adofo-Mensah has about $10 million in available cap space. They couldn’t net the big fish last year during Suh’s free agency. However, the Vikings should try a free-agent pitch one more time, especially after the Lynch news.

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 OverTheCap.com.