One Vikings Move Gets Fancy “Grade” from ESPN

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Free agency “grades” might be as silly as draft ones, but they’re a thing nevertheless.

One Vikings Move Gets Fancy “Grade” from ESPN

And according to ESPN, the Minnesota Vikings acquisition of EDGE rusher Jonathan Greenard knocked it out of the park. The Vikings were awarded an “A” mark for Greenard, one of the NFL’s top scores per ESPN.

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Minnesota has added 14 new players this offseason, and Greenard kicked off the festivities, at least the keynote additions. He’ll directly replace Danielle Hunter, who bolted for Greenard’s old team, the Houston Texans, last week. The Vikings also signed Andrew Van Ginkel from the Miami Dolphins shortly after Greenard, forming Minnesota’s sweet new pass-rushing combo.

Assigning the “A” mark, ESPN provided a rather lengthy explanation, “The Vikings are (presumably) letting Danielle Hunter walk out the door, but in Greenard they are replacing him with another very good pass-rusher — and at a good price, too. Greenard is a metrics darling, recording a 22% pass rush win rate that ranked sixth among edge rushers last season, ahead of stars such as Haason Reddick, Brian Burns and Trey Hendrickson. And he’s a solid run defender, too, with a 37% run stop win rate at edge that would have led the position had he played enough to qualify.”

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Greenard agreed to a four-year deal worth $76 million, meaning the veteran defender will become part of the defense’s fiber for almost the next half-decade. He played 62% of all Texans defensive snaps in 2023, notching an impressive 12.5 sacks and 22 QB hits. He’s three years younger than Hunter and, at $19 million per season, offers incredible value. Here’s Greenard’s Pro Football Focus resume to date:

  • 2023: 78.2
  • 2022: 63.4
  • 2021: 82.9
  • 2020: 51.9
Coach Already a Hot
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores takes over the team’s defense at an introductory press conference on February 15th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota.

ESPN’s Seth Walder added about Greenard to Vikings, “While there’s risk in buying high, to me this is a gamble easily worth making. This isn’t just a single year of sack production. All the signs are there of Greenard being a very high-level edge player. Those don’t come around on the free agent market at age 26 often.”

The only knock on Greenard is injury. He hasn’t played a full season in the NFL, so Vikings fans will hope that changes in 2024. His acquisition is also noteworthy because he stops the run, as well. Some pass rushers are one-trick ponies with pass-rush-only. Not Greenard.

vikings
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.

“Looking at the Vikings’ roster before free agency, the expectation was that if the team didn’t re-sign Hunter, selecting a pass-rusher was in play early in the draft, potentially at No. 11 overall. With Greenard signed, pass-rusher can now move down the team’s list of needs. The focus in Minnesota now is all on quarterback,” ESPN’s Matt Miller concluded about Greenard in purple.

Other Vikings free-agent grades per ESPN?

  • Sam Darnold = B
  • Andrew Van Ginkel = B

The ESPN article did not mention new Vikings linebacker Blake Cashman or running back Aaron Jones.


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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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