Dalton Risner Named a “Fit” for AFC Team

dalton risner
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings fans totally fell in love with Dalton Risner last year, probably because the man possesses a pass-blocking-first skillset, a foreign concept for the purple team.

Dalton Risner Named a “Fit” for AFC Team

But roughly one month into 2024 free agency — not unlike last year for the veteran lineman — Risner remains unsigned and will just have to wait until a relationship materializes for his next NFL home.

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports.

According to The 33rd Team, that “fit” is the Baltimore Ravens. Risner can sign anywhere in the league, but per Dan Pizzuta, Baltimore apparently has the special sauce. Pizzuta explained, “A productive, undervalued veteran who could be signed later in the offseason? Sounds like he belongs on the Baltimore Ravens at face value — add in the fact Baltimore could use help along the offensive line after both starting guards left in free agency. The Ravens have 2023 seventh-round pick Andrew Vorhees penciled in as the starting left guard.”

Risner fired up a blah Pro Football Focus grade of 57.1 in 2023, but if you ask most Vikings fans, that might as well have been a 97.1.

Pizzuta added about Risner’s free agency, “There was a similarly slow market for Risner when he was a free agent last season. He waited until September to sign while he struggled to accept a deal lower than his perceived value. After signing, he said he regretted waiting that long. When Risner is on the field, he can be a force off the ball, especially in the run game where he has allowed a sub-1.0 percent stuff rate in four of the past five seasons. He was also ninth among interior linemen in ESPN’s pass block win rate in 2023.”

Starting OG
Former Denver Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner on Monday Night Football during his first start with the Minnesota Vikings. U.S. Bank Stadium, October 23rd, 2023. Risner started for an injured Ezra Cleveland.

Risner recently hired powerhouse agent Drew Rosenhaus to handle his free agency and dealings, so the 28-year-old could find employment before too long. Before hiring Rosenhaus, Risner personally tweeted on March 12th, “Just In case anyone was wondering … I’ve started 73 games over 5 years in the league … missing only 4 games due to injury… earning the starting spot amongst 3 different coaching staffs … I’ve never asked for a bag, simply just a starting guard contract.”

Six days after the Risner tweet, KFAN’s Paul Allen asked Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah about the chances of Risner returning in purple, and the young executive replied, “Where we’ve wanted to be is best available. That’s where we’ve tried to set ourselves up both in a draft and acquisition standpoint. So every option is on the table. That’s all I can say about that.”

John Harbaugh
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

Typically, if the Vikings wanted a player back for the following season, the front office says something to the effect of: We’d love to have _______ _________ back, but negotiations are ongoing. That didn’t happen during the KFAN interview.

Risner’s price in 2023 was affordable, likely because the regular season was in full swing when he signed on the Vikings’ dotted line. But not this go-round. His aforementioned PFF grade of 57.1 didn’t break the Richter scale, but his 67.4 pass-blocking score is music to the ears of Vikings fans. For years — arguably a decade — Vikings enthusiasts asked for a competent pass-blocking guard or two, and the wish was finally granted in 2023 with second-year lineman Ed Ingram’s ascension and Risner’s midseason addition.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota re-signed guard-tackle hybrid Blake Brandel in March for three years and $9.5 million, a cue he could take over left guard duties if Risner isn’t re-signed. The Vikings could also draft a mid-to-late-round rookie in 2.5 weeks to compete with Brandel if there is no Risner on the depth chart.

Risner also has ties to the Philadelphia Eagles and Las Vegas Raiders through previous coaches now working at the respective spots.

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.