All the Vikings Free Agent Grades

Vikings TE Josh Oliver on March 16th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota. Oliver signed with the Vikings as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens for three years and $21 million.

Last week, the Minnesota Vikings welcomed Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), and Dean Lowry (DT, Packers) and lost Cameron Dantzler (CB, Commanders), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), and Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns).

It was a somewhat busy week to kick off the personnel part of the Vikings offseason, and a few moves are still likely on the way.

All the Vikings Free Agent Grades

In the meantime, NFL media entities enjoy assigning grades on free-agent moves, you know, before anything plays out on the field.

These are those.

CBS Sports = D+

All the Vikings Free
Nov 27, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Josh Oliver (84) leaps for a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

CBS Sports’ Garrett Podell essentially said “nope” to the Vikings free-agent dealings, mainly peeved by the Marcus Davenport and Josh Oliver additions.

Podell explained his disapproval, “The Vikings currently have the least amount of cap space in the entire NFL, so there’s not a whole lot they can do. However, giving former New Orleans Saint Marcus Davenport $13 million on a one-year deal even though he’s coming off what may be the worst season of his career at 26 years old in 2022 is a whiff.”

“The signing of former Baltimore Ravens tight end Josh Oliver to a three-year, $21 million contract with a career stat line of 26 catches for 230 receiving yards and two touchdowns at 25 years old is insanity. Unless Minnesota plans to make an out-of-nowhere run at Lamar Jackson, this signing makes even less sense than the Davenport money,” Podell moaned.

Can’t please ’em all.

Sportsnaut = D+

Favorite Phrase
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the 2023 NFL Combine the Week of February 27th. The Vikings have the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Sportnaut was wildly unimpressed, as well, slapping the trendy D+ grade on the Vikings homework just like CBS Sports. Vincent Frank from Sportsnaut was confused by the Vikings cutting of ties with expensive longtime veterans, claiming that jettisoning bloated contracts sends mixed messages.

Frank opined, “Moving on from three veteran mainstays on defense just didn’t seem to make sense for Minnesota. Is the team in rebuild or retool mode? We have no idea, because it continues to send mixed signals. In particular, the unwillingness to re-sign Dalvin Tomlinson could loom large moving forward.”

The Vikings are actually in the middle of doing both a rebuild¬†and¬†retool, as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has explained — about a dozen times — his belief in a ‘competitive rebuild.’

And this is how he does it, offloading older players with chunky contracts in favor of cheaper and younger options.

Sporting News = B-

Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) throws an interception as he is pressured by New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Compared to CBS Sports and Sportsnaut, Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer took it easy, granting the Vikings a passable mark for their troubles. And he kept the explanation pithy, “The Vikings lost some key veteran pieces including Thielen, Tomlinson and Peterson, and went for more upside shots with Davenport, Oliver and Murphy.”

Iyer considered the Chicago Bears and New York Jets the undisputed free agency winners to date.

Pro Football Focus = A-

Sep 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (7) celebrates after scoring on a 59-yard fumble recovery in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The most complimentary of the bunch, PFF, handed out an A- grade and evidently believes in the Vikings offseason mission, aligning with the aforementioned competitive rebuild mantra.

PFF praised the Davenport addition particularly, “Davenport has always been an athletic edge player, and he could earn a bigger deal next year if he’s able to produce for Minnesota. He and Danielle Hunter will form one of the most athletic edge duos in the entire NFL.”

“Byron Murphy can play out wide and in the slot, both areas Minnesota can stand to dramatically improve, and new Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores gets his No. 1 cornerback,” PFF continued about Minnesota’s signing of the Cardinals defender.

For PFF, the Miami Dolphins were the only franchise to earn an A grade.


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.

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