5 EDGE Targets for the Vikings in Free Agency

Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (43) and linebacker David Long Jr., rear, celebrate a sack against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Dec. 24, 2023. © Jim Rassol / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings began their offseason 7.5 weeks ago after losing at Ford Field to the Detroit Lions in Week 18, missing the playoffs entirely. The franchise ended 2023 with a 7-10 record, never able to fully bounce back from quarterback Kirk Cousins’ Week 8 Achilles tear. As a result, Minnesota owns the 11th overall pick in April’s draft.

5 EDGE Targets for the Vikings in Free Agency

The Vikings have several roster needs this offseason, hoping to complete their “competitive rebuild” phase embraced two years ago. Unless the franchise promotes from within — a longshot — EDGE rusher should be near the top of the list. Danielle Hunter back on a new contract would also help.

Consider these five EDGE rushers as reasonable targets for Minnesota in free agency. They’re ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = best and most realistic option).

5. A.J. Epenesa

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Age: 25
Previous Team:
Buffalo Bills

A 2nd-Rounder from the 2020 NFL Draft, Epenesa only played about 40% of the time for the 2023 Buffalo Bills. Like many men on the list, he needs starter’s snaps to blossom.

Epenesa tallied 6.5 sacks in back-to-back seasons, so one might assume he could cross double-digits if afforded more playing time. His next contract should fetch between $6 and $9 million per season, a reasonable figure for the Vikings or any team to explore.

Vikings fans might know him well, as he played ball at the University of Iowa.

4. Josh Uche

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Age: 25
Previous Team:
New England Patriots

New England only tossed Uche on the field one-third of the time in 2023, and that needs to change — probably with another team — in 2024. He notched a 66.8 pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus last season, his fourth as a pro.

He’s totaled 18.5 sacks in 51 career games (3 starts) and should fetch around $7 to $9 million annually with his next contract. A 2nd-Rounder from the 2020 NFL Draft, Uche was a teammate of Josh Metellus at Michigan. Maybe Metellus can become a free-agent recruiter.

3. Chase Young

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Age: 24
Previous Team:
San Francisco 49ers

Young has accrued a PFF grade north of 74.0 in each of the last three seasons and was highly coveted entering the NFL from the 2020 draft. He damn near won a Super Bowl two weeks ago, a midseason addition to the San Francisco 49ers’ roster last season.

His malfunction is injury, missing 35% of all career games so far. Accordingly, he won’t be terribly expensive on the market, probably expecting a deal between $12-15 million in free agency.

The one reason he may not become a Viking is Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s possible skittishness about signing injury-prone pass rushers in back-to-back offseasons. See: Marcus Davenport.

2. Andrew Van Ginkel

5 EDGE Targets
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Age: 28
Previous Team:
Miami Dolphins

Van Ginkel experienced ample playing time in 2023 when virtually every EDGE defender for the Dolphins was lost to injury. He had 6 sacks and 20 pressures, according to Stathead, along with a blistering 91.1 PFF grade.

The oldest of the bunch, his pricetag will be lower than Young’s, for example, likely $5-7 million per season. Too, he was a part of Brian Flores’ defenses in Miami, so that player-coach connection is there.

1. Bryce Huff

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Age: 25
Previous Team:
New York Jets

This 25-year-old has posted 10 sacks in 17 games as a reservist player for the New York 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.

That could be the Vikings, a team only showcasing Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II as EDGE rushers under contract in 2024. Huff has posted a 75.9 Pro Football Focus grade this season, seeing action on 454 defensive snaps.

He and Danielle Hunter — hopefully the Vikings re-sign him — could formulate a fearsome pass-rushing duo in 2024.

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 OverTheCap.com.