5 Free Agents the Vikings Can Still Pursue

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) makes a touchdown reception in the first quarter of the NFL Week 4 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. © Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), and Dean Lowry (DT, Packers) joined the Minnesota Vikings during free agency’s first week, mostly an assortment of defensive players to help improve the league’s 30th-ranked defense (points allowed) from 2022.

The Vikings cap space situation remains grim, but if they pull off a couple of trades — Dalvin Cook, Za’Darius Smith? — along with one or two contractual restructures for a player like Brian O’Neill, they can have enough money for new free agents in time for supper.

5 Free Agents the Vikings Can Still Pursue

These are five sensible free agents (alphabetical order) general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can pursue during the second wave of free agency or at any time, really.

1. Odell Beckham (WR)

Agents the Vikings
Nov 23, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. walks court-side during the second half between the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards at FTX Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

According to OddsChecker, these are the odds of landing Beckham in 2023:

  • +250: Cowboys
  • +300: Bills
  • +400: Giants
  • +700: Rams
  • +800: Chiefs
  • +1000: 49ers, Browns, Packers
  • +1200: Panthers
  • +1400: Vikings
  • +1600: Jets
  • +1800: Cardinals

Last week, Pro Football Talk wrote about Beckham’s free agency, “At one point during the 2022 season, a report emerged that free-agent receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. wants $20 million per year. We’re told that Beckham still has that number in mind.”

On Saturday, Beckham stepped up to the plate with a clarification, “I’mm just so confused where the quote is from me that said I want 20…..?? all I’m sayin is 4 AINT enough.”

For an unknown amount — more than $4 million — Beckham can become the Adam Thielen replacement.

2. D.J. Chark (WR)

NFL: New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars
Oct 27, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) talks with ex-quarterback Mark Brunell (left) prior to the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports.

Chark possesses speed and size, and everybody cherishes those characteristics. He started his career like gangbusters in 2019 as a sophomore but then cooled off thereafter. Throughout his entire career, he’s had third-rate Jaguars quarterbacks tossing him the pigskin, the Urban Meyer version of Trevor Lawrence, or Jared Goff.

Chark needs a dependable, accurate QB1, and wouldn’t you know it? The Vikings have one in Kirk Cousins, at least for one more season.

If the Vikings don’t strike on the aforementioned Beckham, they still need a proven WR2. Chark can be that.

3. Sean Murphy-Bunting (CB)

Dec 18, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (23) reacts after a play against the Cincinnati Bengals in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

It doesn’t feel like Chandon Sullivan is on his way back to Minnesota, so let us introduce you to our finest Sean Murphy-Buntings that we have in stock.

This guy fired up a 76.6 Pro Football Grade in 2022 while mostly playing in the slot. He should already be on the Vikings roster. Adofo-Mensah has shown no urgency to re-sign Chandon Sullivan or replace him. Maybe he’s deep in the Murphy-Bunting sweepstakes.

Too, Adofo-Mensah has already shown an affinity for free agents from the 2019 NFL Draft (Byron Murphy, Josh Oliver). Give Murphy-Bunting’s agent a call. The 25-year-old hasn’t even sniffed the prime of his career yet.

4. Duke Shelley (CB)

Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Duke Shelley (20) breaks up a pass intended for New York Giants wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (18) during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

This almost feels like “no caption needed” material.

The largest no-brainer on the list, Minnesota should stop dinking around and re-sign Shelley, who was phenomenal in 2022. Phenomenal.

The Vikings employ three possibly-startable cornerbacks as of March 18th — Byron Murphy, Andrew Booth, and Akayleb Evans. Murphy, of course, will start, but the verdict is out on youngsters Booth and Evans.

Shelley hedges the bet. If Booth and Evans show up this summer and autumn but get hurt again, insert Shelley. We’ve seen that movie before. We gave it four stars.

Moreover, Shelley won’t break the bank. He deserves a purple sequel.

5. Anthony Walker (LB)

Sep 22, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. (5) during pregame warmups against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports.

Adofo-Mensah knows him from the Cleveland days, so what’s the holdup? Sure, the Vikings restructured Jordan Hicks’ contract, but that doesn’t mean Hicks has to start. Line up a more productive commodity alongside Brian Asamoah, and write WALKER on the back of his jersey.

Walker has started 63 games in his career, playing 73 in total, and he’s a mighty fine coverage linebacker. Vikings linebackers struggled in pass coverage last year. Walker and Hicks can duke it out in training camp and preseason to decide who starts with the second-year Asamoah in September.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.