A New Vikings Free Agent Target Surfaces

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Free agency opens on Monday, March 11, when the available players are allowed to talk to other teams. The negotiated deals can be signed two days later, on March 13. All eyes in Minnesota are on the future plans of quarterback Kirk Cousins, and the remaining attention is spent on Danielle Hunter, the Pro Bowl pass rusher.

A New Vikings Free Agent Target Surfaces

A New Vikings Free Agent Target Surfaces
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Because Minnesota’s free agency class features a bunch of defenders (Hunter, D.J. Wonnum, Marcus Davenport, Jordan Hicks), defensive coordinator Brian Flores desperately needs some reinforcements. Christian Wilkins has been linked to the Vikings all offseason, and his arrival is realistic, although it will cost a large portion of the available funds. His skill set as a complete defensive tackle, his ability to get after the passer, and his solid run defense are why he is the top DT on the market.

A slightly different position but also an intriguing player is Arik Armstead from the San Francisco 49ers, who will become available for other teams, according to Adam Schefter: “After the 49ers and DL Arik Armstead attempted but failed to work out a restructured contract, San Francisco now plans to release him, per source. Armstead is now expected to become a free agent. The two sides came close to a deal, but Armstead wanted to see what his market is.”

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Armstead was drafted in the first round in 2015 and has been part of San Francisco’s club ever since. Through nine seasons, the defensive lineman has produced 33.5 sacks, 302 tackles, and 43 tackles for loss. He has also been extremely productive in the postseason, collecting 8 sacks and 38 tackles in 12 games. In the recent Super Bowl loss versus the Chiefs, Armstead also recorded a sack and 6 tackles.

There are two reasons why the Vikings might be after the defender. Firstly, Minnesota’s general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, has ties to the 49ers, having worked there from 2013 to 2019. Having a connection to someone is always a good indication that a player could be acquired.

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Secondly, Armstead would be a wonderful fit because his skill set is just what the Vikings need. The 30-year-old is a pass-rushing lineman. His frame of 6’7″ and 290 lbs is too big to line him up outside, but he would be a perfect sidekick for DT Harrison Phillips, whose strengths are in the running game.

The Vikings don’t have an interior defender who can get after the quarterback, and they haven’t had one since Kevin Williams retired. Armstead’s sack numbers might not seem impressive, but he is wreaking havoc in the backfield.

Just last season, Armstead ranked fifth among interior linemen in the NFL in PFF’s pass-rush grade, tabulating 58 QB pressures in 15 games (including the postseason), which would’ve comfortably ranked him second in Minnesota’s group behind Hunter’s 80. His 373 pressures over the years showcase his longevity.

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The one knock on him could be that he missed 13 games in the last two seasons, whereas he didn’t miss a single contest in the previous four campaigns.

It remains to be seen if Armstead commands a huge salary, but he should be attainable for much less than the desired lineman Wilkins. A tier two deal in the range of $10-15 million per season could be possible. If the Vikings think the 30-year-old has some juice left in the tank, he is the perfect addition.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt