Vikings Free Agency Should Center on One Man

New York Jets fans did not have much to smile about Monday, November 6, 2023 as their team lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, 27-6. © Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Whether the club re-signs Danielle Hunter or lets him walk to the open market, Minnesota Vikings’ free agency should identify one man — foremost.

Vikings Free Agency Should Center on One Man

He’s Bryce Huff, an EDGE rusher on tap to test the NFL’s marketplace, previously employed by the New York Jets.

Vikings Free Agency
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Of course, the Vikings and 31 NFL teams have plenty of pass rushers to choose from next week, meaning the quest for Huff won’t be seamless. However, equipped with roughly $36 million in cap space — the most Minnesota has banked in years — the Vikings should very much be in the sweepstakes for the young defender.

Why? Well, the purple team’s pass-rushing cupboard is barren. Utterly barren. If the NFL season began tomorrow, Brian Flores’ defense would feature Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II on the edges of its line. That won’t do the trick — unless Jones II and Carter II are sitting on breakout springs and summers totally unforeseen by everybody.

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Huff, 25, posted 10 sacks in 17 games as a reservist player for the Jets. Examining his free agency, he’s similar to Harrison Phillips in 2022 — a high-end backup from the AFC East waiting for his opportunity to start somewhere. Huff started no games for the 2023 Jets, and before too long, he’ll be on deck to start a full 17-game slate. That should be the Vikings, a franchise absolutely requiring EDGE help when free agency opens in six days.

Vikings’ free agency also has a grand decision and climax around the corner regarding Danielle Hunter. The 29-year-old pass rusher stated a few times in the last year that he’d like to stay with the Vikings in 2024 and beyond, but general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has yet to put a signature on paper with Hunter. In all likelihood, Hunter will wait until next week to determine his value around the NFL, and if the Vikings match another team’s price, perhaps the long-time Viking will return.

Listed as Contestant
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Pairing Hunter and Huff in 2024 would just about do the trick as a starting duo. Depth pieces like D.J. Wonnum or Marcus Davenport could return on affordable deals, and if so, the EDGE anxiety present at the moment would diminish.

But Minnesota must start somewhere, and with or without Hunter, it needs a starting pass rusher. Huff’s deal from the Vikings or elsewhere should check in around $15-$18 million per season, a figure well within reach for the current iteration of Adofo-Mensah’s salary cap.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) tries to get around New York Jets linebacker Bryce Huff (47). © Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK.

If Minnesota is not interested in Huff, these veteran EDGEs are slated to be available in free agency next week:

  • Jadeveon Clowney (BAL)
  • A.J. Epenesa (BUF)
  • Jonathan Greenard (HOU)
  • Bryce Huff (NYJ)
  • Carl Lawson (NYJ)
  • Za’Darius Smith (CLE)
  • Josh Uche (NE)
  • Andrew Van Ginkel (MIA)
  • Chase Young (SF)

Huff will turn 26 one week before the NFL Draft.

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).

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