1 Low-Budget Free Agent for Each Vikings Need

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Free agency kicks off on Monday, March 11, with the legal tampering window as players can legally negotiate with teams starting that day. Contracts can be signed a couple of days later. In addition to some other players, Minnesota is set to lose two of the top free agents on the market — Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter–which will open some massive holes on the roster.

1 Low-Budget Free Agent for Each Vikings Need

1 Low-Budget Free Agent for Each Vikings Need
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General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must find reinforcements for the following positions:

  • QB
  • RB
  • WR3
  • LG
  • DT
  • EDGE
  • LB

Because he obviously doesn’t have the funds to sign a superstar at every spot, let’s take a look at some cheaper options.

Quarterback: Russell Wilson

Undoubtedly the most critical spot on the roster, Cousins’ potential departure would be a big blow to Kevin O’Connell’s offense. The two remaining passers, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall, aren’t starters, so the Vikes must add someone, as they can’t be sure to pick someone up in the unpredictable draft.

Russell wilson
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The obvious choice here is Russell Wilson. Cut by the Broncos, he will likely sign a bargain contract as Denver must pay him $39 million in 2024 minus the money he will get from his new team. Wilson probably wants to hurt the Broncos and prevent his future franchise from spending extra cap space, as his salary won’t top that number.

Wilson is way past his prime, but he is still a capable quarterback. For only $1.21 million, he is a much better choice than Ryan Tannehill, Sam Darnold, or Gardner Minshew, who will demand a higher salary and aren’t superior players.

Running Back: Zack Moss

Indianapolis Colts running back Zack Moss (21) leaves the field Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

After the exit of last year’s starter Alexander Mattison, the Vikings must find a sidekick to Ty Chandler, who is liked by the coaching staff but needs a second runner next to him to form a committee. Adofo-Mensah doesn’t want to spend big bucks for an aging star rusher, so he will try to find someone who makes roughly as much money as Mattison did last season ($4 million).

Zack Moss, who played last year with the Colts and previously with the Bills, has shown flashes of starting-caliber play. He should be attainable for roughly Mattison’s salary. Just last season, Moss produced almost 1,000 scrimmage yards and 7 touchdowns while sharing the carries with Jonathan Taylor.

Wide Receiver: Noah Brown

K.J. Osborn will test the market and might be out of Minnesota after four seasons. The Vikings need a new WR3 who can feast when opponents focus too much on Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson.

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Former Texans wideout Noah Brown can be that guy. The 28-year-old was a bottom-of-the-roster player in the first four seasons of his career, but in the last two, he has been a solid contributor, producing over 500 yards in both campaigns (despite only playing ten games last season).

At 6’2″, Brown would offer a body type the Vikes do not have on the roster. He has inside/outside flexibility, and his speed makes him a decent deep threat.

Left Guard: Greg Van Roten

Just like a year ago, Dalton Risner is a free agent. After solid performances with the Vikings, he should generate a little more interest this time. Former Viking Ezra Cleveland just got paid by the Jaguars, and the Rams opened the bag for Kevin Dotson. The interior line market is soaring.

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For that reason, it might make sense to sign an aging player who played well in 2023. Raiders left guard Greg Van Roten earned elite grades from Pro Football Focus (7th OG in the NFL), but at age 34, he will not have many teams lining up to sign him. Brad Spielberger from PFF projects his deal to be a one-year contract worth $2.75 million.

Defensive Tackle: Maurice Hurst

A clear weakness in Brian Flores’ defense is that the defensive line just isn’t disruptive enough and needs more talent. However, after Chris Jones and Justin Madubuike signed absurd contracts, the free agency pool isn’t as strong as it appeared a week ago. Many Vikings fans have fallen in love with Christian Wilkins, Flores’ first draft pick as the head coach in Miami, but he could command a salary of $25 million per season. A cheap alternative is required.

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Maurice Hurst will be affordable. He was a highly-touted college prospect who dropped out of the draft because of a heart condition and was selected in the fifth round. He has played for the Raiders, 49ers, and Browns. Injuries slowed him down in some seasons, and he was stuck on some strong depth charts. He produced strong pass-rush numbers in 2023 and could aid the lack of interior pass-rush.

EDGE: Derek Barnett

Hunter, D.J. Wonnum, and Marcus Davenport are free agents and leave a huge hole. Patrick Jones and Andre Carter are currently the only two outside pass-rushers on the roster and the Vikings desperately need some help at the expensive position.

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The Vikes need to add at least a couple of outside linebackers, so they need some cheap options. Former Eagles defender Derek Barnett was drafted with Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2017, which was sent to Philadelphia in exchange for Sam Bradford.

Stuck in the usual logjam on Philly’s defensive line, Barnett tabulated 24 sacks in seven career seasons. He was released last season and joined Houston, where he immediately earned playing time, and he sacked QBs 3.5 times in eight games, including the postseason. The 28-year-old shouldn’t cost too much but comes with a first-round pedigree.

Linebacker: Jordan Hicks

Track for Defensive
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Jordan Hicks is slated to be a free agent after a wonderful 2023 season. He looked like his old self from half a decade ago. The Vikings employ 2023 rookie Ivan Pace and 2022 third-rounder Brian Asamoah but could use some veteran leadership and a bigger linebacker as those two are undersized.

This one shouldn’t be overthought. Hicks is cheap, knows the system, has earned praise for his leadership all season long, and was outstanding on the field. He is the perfect player for the job description. The Vikings should slowly give their two young players larger roles, but having Hicks on the team doesn’t have any downside.

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