The Vikings Free Agency Report Card | Grades

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Kevin O'Connell

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The Minnesota Vikings have conducted about 25 transactions since the beginning of free agency — about half of them re-signing existing free agents from the 2022 roster.

VikingsTerritory and PPTSD writers were asked to provide one “grade” apiece for the team’s free agency so far, along with answering some prudent offseason questions.

The Vikings Free Agency Report Card | Grades

Some answers will double up as the panel did not use groupthink tactics during the exercise. In those circumstances, consider the responses all the more popular.

Cole Smith = C+

Free Agency Report Card
Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy (7) runs with the football after his interception in the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

Best move: CB Byron Murphy. The Vikings lost Patrick Peterson to the Steelers, replacing him with a younger corner who fits Brian Flores’ scheme like a glove.

Main need: WR2. Even before the team parted ways with Adam Thielen, this was possibly their biggest need. K.J. Osborn is a very good third receiver, but the team needs to find someone opposite of Justin Jefferson who can pick up the slack when defenses take him out of games.

Overall FA grade: C+. The Vikings haven’t made enough splashy moves to deserve a much higher grade than this, but they have made it a clear goal to get younger and clear cap space for 2024 and beyond. Every move has been intentional, and the players they have brought in have high upside.

Cole Smith

K. Joudry = B+

The Vikings Have 4
Sep 25, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) rush off the field against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports.

Best Move: Signing Marcus Davenport. I know, I know: corner was (and still is) a major need. Nevertheless, we need to look at the upside of this deal. Davenport is a 26-year-old EDGE capable of elite NFL play. How often can you get someone like that in free agency? (I will add that I’m enthused about the Troy Reeder deal, but he doesn’t get the top spot).

Main Need: Slot Corner. Murphy can travel into the slot, so perhaps the plan is for him to shoulder the burden along the inside. However, if the hope is that he’s more of a matchup CB1, then the Vikings will need someone to lock down the slot while he’s lined up on the WR1 along the outside.

Overall FA Grade: B+. Just one more addition would firmly push things into ‘A’ range. Preferably, another pass rusher or someone for the slot. Alas, we may need to wait until after the draft to see what Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is thinking.

K. Joudry

Dustin Klug = B

Image Courtesy of Harrison Smith on Instagram.

Best Move: Retaining Harrison Smith. The best move the Minnesota Vikings have made thus far has to be not a signing but a retention. With a new defensive coordinator in Brian Flores, the Vikings defense looks and wants to be more aggressive. Vikings fans all over the internet were hoping that star safety Harrison Smith would stay put and keep this defense together. Smith undoubtedly applies his skillset to this new-look Vikings defense, in hopes of returning to his “old self.”

Main Need: Corner. Although Minnesota went out to sign CB Bryon Murphy, the cornerback room still needs enhancements. Murphy can play outside or inside, which is needed, but the Vikings need that true “put on an island” type of guy. Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans had some significant injuries in their rookie year, and fans hope one of them can fill that role. Until then, Minnesota must keep its eyes open in free agency for a “lock” at the outside cornerback position.

Overall FA Grade: B. At this point, the Vikings have collected “under the radar” positions of need. Tight end behind T.J. Hockenson was a need, along with DT after the departure of defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had a clear plan and signed former Baltimore Ravens tight end Josh Oliver and former Green Bay Packers DL Dean Lowry. Although these are not “needle-moving” roster moves, they are mandatory. Overall, the free agency grade the Minnesota Vikings receive is a B — necessary depth signings but nothing to push them over the hump.

Dustin Klug

Josh Frey = B

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Byron Murphy spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, a 2nd-Round draft pick. He was welcomed to the Vikings from free agency in March 2023.

Best Move: Signing CB Byron Murphy. The Vikings needed to get younger on defense, but they also needed to find a cornerback with true starting experience to join a very inexperienced secondary. Minnesota did both by signing Murphy.

Main Need: Slot Corner. Regarding the rest of free agency, the Vikings would be wise to bring in another veteran corner, particularly one that can play the slot. Murphy has experience there, but if he’s on the outside for the majority of snaps, he can’t be in two places at once.

Overall FA Grade: B. The Murphy signing was huge for the Vikings secondary, and while I’m not entirely sold on Marcus Davenport, it’s tough to be mad at the contract Minnesota gave him. Hopefully, more moves will come, but this free agency has been a nice step forward for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Josh Frey

Janik Eckardt = B

Vikings Trade out
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah during the NFL combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Best Move: Signing Byron Murphy. Cornerback was the biggest need of the Vikings after the departure of four players at the position. Murphy was among the top CBs available and even signed a team-friendly deal.

Main Need: WR. Sans Thielen, the Vikings don’t have a scary weapon on the outside other than Justin Jefferson. K.J. Osborn is a solid third option but hasn’t been consistent enough to be considered a WR2.

Overall FA Grade: B. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made some excellent acquisitions despite not having much cap space to work with, and he did that by signing some high-upside players to relatively cheap deals. However, there are still some more needs to fill.

Janik Eckardt

Dustin Baker = B

Dec 19, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

Best MoveMarcus Davenport. Za’Darius Smith apparently wants to leave — a very Packer thing of him after just one season — so unless Minnesota wants to roll with Patrick Jones, a productive EDGE rusher was required. His name is Marcus Davenport, and he was PFF’s top pass rusher on the market. Can’t beat that.

Main NeedCornerback. The Vikings subtracted Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, Cameron Dantzler, and Chandon Sullivan from the roster this offseason. That’s four human bodies jettisoned from an already-weak CB room. So far, they’ve signed Byron Murphy to fix the rest. More human bodies, preferably feisty ones, are needed.

Overall FA GradeB. The Vikings need CB help, and relying on the draft as the cure-all is nervewracking. Get a CB, and this can climb to an A-.

Dustin Baker

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).

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