Vikings Downright Nail First Signing

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

The Minnesota Vikings entered free agency with a multitude of questions as star players Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter are set to exit the franchise after a long time in purple. Besides them, the purple team is also slated to lose some other meaningful contributors like K.J. Osborn, Jordan Hicks, and Dalton Risner.

Vikings Downright Nail First Signing

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is asked to make some crucial decisions. Filling huge holes on the roster by signing free agents is a tough task but the first acquisition is a wonderful reason for optimism.

Vikings Downright Nail First Signing
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The Minnesota Vikings agree to terms with former Houston Texans pass-rusher Jonathan Greenard. Barring a surprise re-signing of the four-time Pro Bowler, Greenard will take his spot as the team’s top pass-rusher.

Adam Schefter confirmed the deal on X: “Former Texans pass-rusher Jonathan Greenard is signing a four-year $76 million deal that includes $42 million guaranteed with the Vikings, per his agents Drew Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey.”

What sounds like a pricey contract, is actually solid value. Nowadays, paying $19 million per season for a strong pass-rusher is not quite breaking the bank. That ranks him 14th among EDGE rushers in the NFL, according to Over the Cap. Hunter is just one of the players who will exceed that number as well.

Houston Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard (52) celebrates a touchdown on a recovered fumble Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Greenard’s Pro Football Focus grades and ranks among EDGE-rushers:

  • 2020: 51.9 (not eligible)
  • 2021: 82.9 (11th of 110)
  • 2022: 63.4 (73rd of 119)
  • 2023: 76.7 (30th of 112)

It should be noted that the pass-rusher was forced to play in a different defensive scheme in most seasons. His breakout campaign came last season when he logged 12.5 of his 23 career sacks. He also added 52 tackles and 15 tackles for loss in 15 games.

Greenard is not quite on Hunter’s level in terms of pass-rush and run-stop skills but he is only 26 and has the talent to feast in Brian Flores’ defense and he showcased his potential in 2023 which is why he landed a lucrative contract.

Greenard has not yet played a full season in the NFL which is a concern. Injuries can rarely be predicted but the Vikings bet on his availability in the next four campaigns.

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Patrick Jones II (91) during their football game on Sunday, January, 1, 2023 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

The Vikings employ Patrick Jones and Andre Carter so there will be other pass-rushers added in the upcoming months. That could be one of the departing players Marcus Davenport and D.J. Wonnum, a different free agent, or someone in the draft.

The 11th overall pick is the perfect range to acquire Jared Verse, Dallas Turner, or Laiatu Latu, the top pass-rushers in the draft.

Pro Football Focus ranked Greenard as the 39th-best free agent in the class:

Greenard made the absolute most of his contract year under the tutelage of DeMeco Ryans and company, and he’s been productive as a pass-rusher and run defender, with his 9.3% run-stop rate ranking eighth among qualifying edge defenders. Greenard wins against the run because of a good first step, strong diagnosing skills and a solid ability to set the edge and avoid getting washed out at the point of attack.

As a pass-rusher, while he doesn’t have the deepest arsenal of moves, he is a good enough athlete to rack up clean-up and pursuit pressures if teammates chase quarterbacks his way, as he rarely gives up on a rep until the whistle blows.

Flores Flourish
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Greenard is a good football player and he is the first major addition to Brian Flores’ defense. He bolsters both the run defense but also the pass rush.

There will be many more free agency news to come in the next few days.

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