Top 5 Offensive FAs Vikings Must Target
The Minnesota Vikings need to fix their defense.
Everyone knows it, which is why Brian Flores was hired as the new defensive coordinator. The mere presence of Flores doesn’t automatically fix everything, but there should be a consideration for Flores being able to get more out of what is already on the roster.
Moreover, because the offense is the team’s strength, “not worrying about it” would be a mistake. While the defense should be the priority, two particular areas on offense require some attention. Those are the interior offensive line and wide receiver, possibly even running back, depending on the future of Dalvin Cook.
Several options are set to hit the open market for the interior offensive line. In contrast, not much takes my liking that would represent good value at wide receiver.
Here are the top 5 offensive free agents the Vikings must target. With each player, there is the estimated market value via Sportrac and Pro Football Focus for an average annual salary.
Top 5 Offensive FAs Vikings Must Target
1. Dalton Risner (LG)
Market Value – Sportrac ($9.5m) | PFF ($7.5m)
Under new leadership, the Vikings continued using the draft for the offensive line. If they are to spend money on the offense this season, it’s time for the trenches. Risner would be a stellar signing, and at 27, the Vikings line would keep its youthful look.
He is at the top end of what is available at the position, so it would be a statement of intent regarding the OL. It’s what’s needed. Risner is a left guard and would take Ezra Cleveland’s place, who has proved serviceable over the last three seasons. However, it’s time to declare serviceable isn’t enough.
As much as Cleveland’s run blocking has improved to almost league-leading, his pass blocking has remained below average. Kevin O’Connell’s offense is centered around the pass, and the Vikings need guards that excel in pass protection. Risner can be that man.
Connor McGovern (C)
Market Value – Sportrac ($12.5m) | PFF ($7.5m)
Not to be confused with the Dallas Cowboys left guard of the same name, Connor McGovern is a name to watch should the Vikings not come to a deal with Garrett Bradbury. Drafted by the Broncos in 2016, he moved to the Jets in 2019 and has proved himself to be a solid center over six seasons in the league.
He is similar in style to Bradbury but two years older, so sticking with the man already in place arguably makes the most sense for Minnesota. That being said, if another team gambles on Bradbury being able to improve further and somehow stand up to the league’s big interior pass rusher, maybe a big contract goes his way that the Vikings can’t and shouldn’t match.
There is interest in McGovern staying in New York. However, he is also touted as a possible cap casualty. For the right price — closer to PFF’s estimation — it would be a good move for Minnesota.
3. Ben Powers (G)
Market Value – Sportrac (n/a) | PFF ($9m)
Strangely for a guard drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, Ben Powers is a big guard who excels in pass blocking. He lacks the necessary athleticism to be a great run blocker, but if he could get by in Baltimore, he will be fine in Minnesota.
Powers’ 86.5 pass-blocking grade via PFF in 2022 is the kind of number the Vikings need to see from their guards. During his time in Baltimore, Powers played on both the left and right sides. His versatility would make for an interesting camp as Cleveland and Ed Ingram possibly battle it out for the remaining starting spot.
At 26 years old, Powers is at the end of his rookie contract and looking at his first big payday. Surprisingly, there’s no estimated salary from Sportrac, but if the Vikings can get an elite pass blocker for PFF’s suggested $9m, then they should absolutely pull the trigger.
After a season where he allowed zero sacks and just one quarterback hit the entire year, he allowed only 12 pressures and didn’t concede a single penalty. He is very much worth a significant commitment. There is certain to be a lot of competition for his signature.
4. Nate Davis (RG)
Market Value – Sportrac ($7.4m) | PFF ($7m)
Ingram had a tough rookie season but showed some improvement. The Vikings should not be ready to throw the towel in on Ingram, but bringing in a solid starter that won’t break the bank has value. That man can be Nate Davis.
Four seasons at right guard for the Tennessee Titans would suggest Davis is a good run blocker. However, he made big strides as a pass blocker in 2022, which warrants the Vikings attention.
The general feeling around Tennessee is that Davis won’t return, so he should be available. He doesn’t turn 27 until September and has a lot of football ahead of him and will come cheaper than the other two guards previously mentioned. Ingram is afforded time to progress as a player without the pressure of being the starter in 2023.
5. DJ Chark (WR)
Market Value – Sportrac ($9.5m) | PFF ($11.66m)
The Vikings need another wide receiver.
There are not many options in free agency better than getting Jalen Nailor more involved. Using an early draft pick makes more sense to me, but one player worth enquiring about would be DJ Chark. After missing the middle chunk of the season, Chark finished strongly with the Lions, with whom he signed a one-year deal last year.
Chark is an explosive threat who offers size (6’4) and speed (4.34 40-yard dash), and he’s still young at 26 years old. A history of injuries is a concern, but you are also potentially stealing a playmaker from a divisional rival. Freeing up the cap space for this move would mean the Vikings cuts of highly paid veterans will have to run deep.
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