Vikings Need to Sign 1 of 2 Free Agents

8 Players We Think
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have arrived at Day No. 4 of free agency, onboarding a handful of new players so far, letting Kirk Cousins walk to Atlanta, and re-signing about seven in-house free agents.

Vikings Need to Sign 1 of 2 Free Agents

You can read about all the free-agent action here.

And as free agency reaches its popular “second wave,” Minnesota would be best served to sign one of these two players — or, of course, both.

1. Arik Armstead (DT)
San Francisco 49ers

Armstead, 30, entered the NFL in 2015, and current Vikings boss Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was inside the San Francisco 49ers organization at the time. The two were coworkers for four years. They should know each other well. Moreover, he won’t cost “Chris Jones money” or anywhere close to it, making his availability for Vikings’ free agency somewhat feasible.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Here’s Armstead’s Pro Football Focus resume:

  • 2015: 79.9
  • 2016: 53.9
  • 2017: 70.1
  • 2018: 74.2
  • 2019: 89.8
  • 2020: 76.0
  • 2021: 77.9
  • 2022: 63.3
  • 2023: 81.9

The Vikings allowed Danielle Hunter to hit free agency this offseason, and he promptly signed with his hometown Houston Texans on Tuesday. In his place, Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel will take over the edges of the line, while the Vikings could stand to finally sign a high-profile DT — like Armstead.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota has used DTs in the middle of its line, like Shamar Stephen, Armon Watts, and Jonathan Bullard, for too long. It must make an impactful move at the post once and for all. Signing Armstead would bring the Vikings up to speed and end the underwhelming past solutions. Armstead is a large man, standing 6’7″ and about 290 pounds. He creates quarterback pressure and can help stop the run, though his primary specialty is pass rush.

2. Xavien Howard (CB)
Miami Dolphins

Howard didn’t set the world on fire in 2023 — he posted a 55.1 Pro Football Focus grade — but the Vikings don’t adamantly need a lockdown defensive back. They need a veteran defender to help patrol the secondary while corners like Andrew Booth, Mekhi Blackmon, and Akayleb Evans continue to develop. Minnesota also has Byron Murphy Jr. on the depth chart.

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings could sign Howard as an insurance policy and hope the 30-year-old can rekindle some of his glory days. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler and worked alongside Brian Flores from 2019 to 2021 in Miami.

Howard was formally released on Wednesday with a post-June 1st designation, meaning Miami will absorb the savings benefit this summer. However, Howard can sign anywhere in the NFL — like now — and if the Vikings are serious about fixing the secondary, this is the guy, assuming a splashy L’Jarius Sneed trade isn’t attainable.

Minnesota ranked 32nd leaguewide in 2023 per completion percentage allowed.

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) celebrates his second interception in 14 seconds in the second quarter of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. Indianapolis Colts Versus Miami Dolphins At Lucas Oil Stadium In Indianapolis Sunday, Nov 25, 2018

VikingsTerritory’s Ali Siddiqui endorsed a Howard signing at the beginning of the month, “He should not cost too much, given he is 30, but he would still be a great addition to this defense and knows Brian Flores’ defense well from their time together in Miami.”

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