New Vikings Defender Draws Boiling Hot Take

vikings move
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The NFL’s focus has shifted to the draft, which will begin on April 25. The Minnesota Vikings have a potential franchise quarterback on the wishlist. But Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s third free agency period shouldn’t be forgotten because he has done some solid things for the organization’s future. Letting Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter walk could hurt in the near future but help in the long run.

New Vikings Defender Draws Boiling Hot Take

New Vikings Defender Draws Boiling Hot Take
Green Bay Packers tackled Dennis Kelly (79) provides pass protection from Houston Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard (52) during their preseason game Saturday, August 14, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Houston Texans beat the Green Bay Packers 26-7. Packers15 22. © Milwaukee Journal SentinelMARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Cousins signed a whopping $180 million contract for four seasons, with two years fully guaranteed and the majority of the third season as well. Making that kind of commitment involves a lot of risk, especially for a 35-year-old quarterback coming off a torn Achilles tendon. Hunter, meanwhile, joined his hometown Texans, signing a two-year contract for $24.5 million per season while reportedly turning down a more lucrative offer.

His absence will hurt Minnesota because he was the enforcer in the front seven of the defense; the guy offenses had to account for on every running and passing play because of his ability to wreck the plan.

To replace him, the Vikings added a pair of free-agent starters, Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel. The latter is a perfect fit because of his versatility, and he is reuniting with his former head coach, Brian Flores. Greenard will take over for Hunter as the top pass-rusher.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports.

Ironically, the Vikings and Texans virtually swapped defenders. Hunter went one way, Greenard the other. He has played all 48 career games in a Houston uniform, racking up 23 sacks. In 15 games last season, Greenard logged 12.5 sacks, having a breakout season.

He is cheaper and younger, and while he might not be quite as good, he is still a respectable pass-rusher. ESPN’s analyst Seth Walder thinks the Vikings got the better deal. He graded Houston’s deal with a B+ but added some words to his analysis. Vikings fans will enjoy it.

I’m grading this deal just for the situation Houston found itself in at the beginning of free agency (post-Greenard loss), but I would be more critical if I included choosing Hunter over Greenard. This is a take, granted, but I would prefer Greenard to Hunter because he’s younger, has better advanced metrics and is the better run defender. And that’s before looking at the difference in price. But with Greenard gone, Houston did well to add Hunter at a time when the team’s rookie QB contract winning window is wide-open.

Seth Walder, ESPN
Curveball for Danielle
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The run defender take is debatable because Hunter has always been excellent at stopping the run. Defensive coordinator Flores praised him last year, underlining that despite not getting to the QB, he is impacting the game this way.

Regardless, it is good to know that Greenard is fine at it. The teammates and scheme impact the pass-rush metrics, but Greenard indeed logged some comparable numbers, which were even better in some instances.

Flores will continue to run his versatile defense, built around the blitz, but the personnel has been revamped. In addition to Greenard and Van Ginkel, the Vikings signed linebacker Blake Cashman to take over for Jordan Hicks, veteran cornerback Shaquill Griffin, and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. Those players are no stars but offer value and were hand-picked by Flores to fix voids in his unit.

Flores Flourish
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Pairing Van Ginkel with Greenard allows the Vikings to spread the pass-rush duties better than in 2023, when Hunter was the clear top guy, followed by backup D.J. Wonnum because Marcus Davenport missed most of the year.

Greenard will turn 27 in May and hopes to build on his fantastic campaign.

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