ESPN Labels 1 Vikings FA Move ‘Head Scratching’

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Thus far in NFL free agency, the Minnesota Vikings have welcomed newcomers Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), Dean Lowry (DT, Packers), Brandon Powell (WR, Rams), and Troy Reeder (LB, Chargers).

Cameron Dantzler (CB, Commanders), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns), and Duke Shelley (CB, Raiders) left the franchise.

ESPN Labels 1 Vikings FA Move ‘Head Scratching’

And of all those transactions, ESPN is unenthused by one — the signing of OLB Marcus Davenport from the New Orleans Saints.

ESPN Labels 1
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports.

The guys and gals at ESPN discussed free agency’s biggest movers and shakers, identified the best moves, and finger-pointed the lackluster ones. Evidently, Davenport to Vikings was uninspiring for some.

ESPN’s Richard Moody expressed his reservation about the signing, “I’m not sure Davenport can provide the Vikings with the pass-rush help they desperately need. Over the past four seasons, his pressure percentage is 14.8%, ranking 10th among players with at least 800 pass-rush snaps, but he had just 0.5 sacks last season.”

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

“And Davenport has dealt with numerous injuries over his career,” Moody warned.

Indeed, the knock on Davenport to date is consistency and durability. Just like Vikings fans lambasted center Garrett Bradbury from 2019 to 2021, Saints loyalists wrestled with Davenport’s performance compared to his draft stock. He has all the physical tools to become dominant but only puts it together some of the time.

Vikings Top 2
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports.

The popular statistic surrounding Davenport’s 2022 campaign, the 0.5 sacks mentioned by Moody, is all the ammunition needed to chide the Vikings move. While Davenport forced oodles of quarterback pressures — which, you know, are important — only recording a half sack is damn near unforgivable for a starting EDGE rusher, especially a former 1st-Rounder.

Thankfully for his and the Vikings sake, Davenport will play alongside Danielle Hunter in 2023, and men have a documented history of thriving in the role. Everson Griffen, Ifeadi Odenigbo, and Za’Darius Smith can attest.

The UTSA alumnus joins the Vikings on a one-year, $13 million deal. It isn’t a ginormous commitment, and both parties can move on if Davenport flounders in 2023. If he does not, Davenport can stick around for longer. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah didn’t hitch his wagons to the man for the long term.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports.

This is Davenport’s resume from Pro Football Focus since joining the NFL five years ago:

2018 = 71.8
2019 = 84.1
2020 = 73.3
2021 = 88.8
2022 = 76.8

Doesn’t look half bad, does it?

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