Another Free Agent Pass Rusher Just Became Available for Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings embarked on the 2024 offseason with two EDGE rushers under contract: Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II. That’s it; that’s the group.

Another Free Agent Pass Rusher Just Became Available for Vikings

Pro Bowl outside linebacker Danielle Hunter is scheduled to hit free agency, along with D.J. Wonnum. If that occurs, Minnesota will need two starting outside linebackers unless it has unforeseen and bold plans for Jones II and Carter II to formulate the starting lineup in 2024.

Pass Rusher Just
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Well, with or without Hunter + Wonnum back in 2024, another free-agent EDGE rusher became available Tuesday morning: Shaquil Barrett. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “Buccaneers are releasing two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, per sources. Barrett had a $15.04 million option bonus due next month. Instead of collecting it, he now will become a free agent.”

Barrett spent five years in Tampa Bay, winning a Super Bowl with Tom Brady and friends in 2020 and banking two Pro Bowl trips along the way. Before that, Barrett played four seasons with the Denver Broncos and was a part of Denver’s Super Bowl squad in 2015 as a rookie.

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The Colorado State alumnus will turn 32 in November, so he certainly isn’t a long-term solution for the Vikings or any other team. However, Barrett can still start for the next couple of years, and if Minnesota gets in a dicey spot with no EDGE rushers due to Hunter’s or Wonnum’s would-be departures, Barrett is the type of player who can be signed and started in good faith.

Here’s his Pro Football Focus resume from the last nine seasons:

  • 2023 = 75.3
  • 2022 = 68.3
  • 2021 = 82.9
  • 2020 = 70.7
  • 2019 = 77.7
  • 2018 = 74.0
  • 2017 = 82.6
  • 2016 = 84.0
  • 2015 = 77.3

A PFF god, Barrett led the NFL in sacks five years ago, tallying 19.5 in a single season back in 2019. It was his first year in Tampa Bay, quite the introduction for a man who never truly took off in Denver.

Flores Flourish
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Barrett will also be somewhat affordable for his next team. He notched just 4.5 sacks in 16 starts last year and is into his 30s. He won’t break the bank like Danielle Hunter might, so the Vikings can explore Barrett as a financially responsible starting option.

One hurdle? Under Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota usually targets free agents in a 25-28 age range. We shall see if he bends the rules for a veteran like Barrett.

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The Vikings finished 11th per defensive DVOA in 2023, a 13-spot improvement from a 24th ranking in 2022. With Brian Flores in charge, Minnesota’s defense markedly improved. No debates. Flores will want to maintain the success into 2024 and to improve.

If Minnesota uses the draft to find pass-rushing help, these men are expected to highlight the EDGE class:

  • Laiatu Latu (UCLA)
  • Dallas Turner (Alabama)
  • Jared Verse (Florid State)
  • Chop Robinson (Penn State)
  • Chris Braswell (Alabama)

The Vikings ranked 18th in 2023 per ESPN’s pass-rush win rate metric.

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