Vikings Make First Free Agent Move

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Mason Kinsey (12) evades Minnesota Vikings safety Theo Jackson (25) during practice in Eagan, Minn., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings went about six weeks between personnel moves, last adding players to future contracts in January after the regular season capped.

Vikings Make First Free Agent Move

But the drought ended on Wednesday, and free agency got underway as the club re-signed safety Theo Jackson, according to the team’s social media account on X.

Make First Free
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Here’s the opening tweet of free agency:

Selected by the Tennessee Titans in the 6th Round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Jackson joined the Vikings in October 2022 and has played in 26 games since. His role spiked in 2023 after predominantly serving as a special teams asset in 2022, seeing the field on 126 defensive snaps last season. Jackson also accounted for 260 special teams plays in 2023.

As a sophomore in purple, Jackson banked 21 total tackles, a QB hit, a pass defended, and a memorable interception at the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2. The Vikings’ 2023 safety room was incredibly deep per most teams’ standards, showcasing Harrison Smith, Josh Metellus, Camryn Bynum, and Lewis Cine, so Jackson standing out, in general, was quite noteworthy.

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The Tennessee alumnus graded a 67.6 mark from Pro Football Focus and is now on tap to vie for a roster spot in a third straight season with the Vikings. Unless the aforementioned Smith retires, Minnesota’s safety room should remain similar from 2023 to 2024, and folks can tentatively expect Jackson to make the 53-man roster once again.

The versatile defender played 47 games in college at the University of Tennessee, recording 190 total tackles, 17 passes defended, 12 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown. Jackson also earned 2nd-Team All-SEC Honors in 2021.

Theo Jackson holds a football at the Girl’s Flag Football training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Girl’s Flag Football Training Camp. © Abbey Cutrer / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Vikings fans still await a few other offseason dominoes, which will dwarf Jackson’s re-signing. Minnesota must decide Kirk Cousins’ free-agent fate — re-upping with the passer for a seventh season. Danielle Hunter, too, is scheduled to hit free agency in three weeks; he might return on a third contract. And Justin Jefferson is due for a contract extension, a transaction that could be announced at any minute.

Jackson was teammates with Velus Jones (Bears, WR), Jauan Jennings (49ers, WR), Josh Palmer (Chargers, WR), and Trey Smith (Chiefs, OL) at the University of Tennessee. He turned 25 in October.

Flores Flourish
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The Vikings’ defense rode a rollercoaster in 2023, Brian Flores’ first year in charge. The unit sputtered out of the gate in the first three games, became the best defense in football per EPA/Play from Weeks 4 through 14, and collapsed thereafter — disqualifying Minnesota from the postseason as a result.

Jackson could experience an enhanced role in 2024 if Harrison Smith retires (or joins another team) or Lewis Cine fails to emerge as a contributor.

Minnesota has about 26 more internal free-agent decisions in the next three weeks.

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