2 More “Brian Flores Guys” Just Became Available

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The real beginning of the offseason circus is just a few weeks away. Vikings fans will learn if their team manages to retain quarterback Kirk Cousins and pass rusher Danielle Hunter or if the two staples of the organization move on. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has some cap space to spend on his team for the first time since his arrival.

2 More “Brian Flores Guys” Just Became Available

He will surely use that money to acquire some reinforcements. The Vikings have some glaring holes on their roster. The good news, however, is that defensive coordinator Brian Flores knows some players who could help the team in 2024 and beyond.

Brian Flores Guys
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He coached some excellent defenders in Miami. The biggest name is undoubtedly defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, Flores’ first draft pick with the Dolphins. Also in the free agency pool with ties to Flores are veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy, outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, and defensive tackle Raekwon Davis.

On Friday, reports surfaced about Miami’s roster moves. The Dolphins have released defender Emmanuel Ogbah and plan to part ways with cornerback Xavien Howard.

Both players have reached a similar stage in their careers. They were once excellent players, earning expensive contracts, but are on the wrong side of 30 and haven’t been that productive in 2023.

That’s why they are intriguing for the Vikings. They are unlikely to fetch huge contracts but can still play, provide a veteran presence, and have scheme familiarity.

Miami Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (91) celebrates a sack Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during the fourth quarter of an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Sept. 24, 2023.

Ogbah was the 32nd overall pick in the 2016 draft, selected by the Cleveland Browns. He was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019 and won a Super Bowl ring in his lone season in Missouri. As an unrestricted free agent, he joined Miami in 2020 after Flores’ first season as the head coach. In two campaigns under Minnesota’s defensive coordinator, he produced 18 sacks (9 in each season) and 83 tackles. It was the most successful tenure in his career and led to a massive contract extension.

A season-ending triceps injury after nine games slowed him down in 2022. His numbers dipped, and his role declined. In 2023, under coach Vic Fangio, Ogbah produced 5.5 sacks in only 246 defensive snaps, roughly a third of the snap count he had under Flores’ guidance.

Ogbah now enters the open market and could be an excellent acquisition for the Vikings. He knows Flores and his scheme. His versatility (he can play as a defensive end and as an edge rusher) is just what the coach needs, and he can provide what Minnesota lacks the most: pass rush from the interior.

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Cornerback Howard was a 2016 second-rounder and has spent his entire career in Miami. The 30-year-old is a four-time Pro Bowler, and he was named first-team All-Pro after leading the league with ten interceptions when Flores was calling the shots in 2020.

He is under contract for three more seasons, and the Dolphins will inherit a significant dead cap hit by moving on from him, but, of course, they will open some cap room in future years. Howard played in 13 games last season, though he has been pretty reliable in previous seasons, appearing in 60 contests over the last four seasons.

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Formerly considered one of the elite defenders in the league, he has lost a step at age 30 but would still be a great addition for the Vikings as a starting cornerback who provides more consistency compared to the young and unproven CBs under contract. He didn’t fit the Fangio defense very well. Flores’ approach should be his preferred choice.

Neither of those two players should be signed if the asking price is too high, but there should be interest from Minnesota if the salary is reasonable. They play positions of need, know their coach and his scheme, and have excelled in it in the past.

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