The Vikings Spiced Things up on Day 2 of Free Agency

sam darnold
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The Minnesota Vikings kicked off the “legal tampering” phase of free agency on Monday, and the club hasn’t been quiet — at all — since.

Vikings Free Agency Got Spicy on Day No. 2

Day No. 1 featured three high-profile newcomers, and you can read about those men here.

These were the Vikings’ four splashes from Tuesday, ranked in ascending order of importance.

4. The “Small Stuff”

Vikings Free Agency
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Items that would be considered semi-big news on a non-free-agent-week day flew under the radar Tuesday. Long story short, Minnesota re-upped with a popular wide receiver and signed a new kicker — one who might be “the guy” this September.

These were the smaller developments:

  • DT Dean Lowry cut
  • ILB William Kwenkeu waived
  • OT Hakeem Adeniji to Browns
  • WR Brandon Powell re-signed
  • XFL kicker Parker Romo signed

The Vikings now need another defensive tackle(s) — they only have two on the roster at the moment: Harrison Phillips and Jaquelin Roy — after Lowry’s release.

And get ready for a new kicker, though Romo could be part of a kicking competition with a player to be named later. Vikings fans are used to that procedure.

3. A New RB — Aaron Jones

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NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Tuesday morning, “Staying in the NFC North: Sources tell me and Tom Pelissero that former Packers RB Aaron Jones is expected to sign with the Vikings, just a day after being released in Green Bay. This sets up two revenge games next year. He gets a 1-year, $7M deal.”

Jones banked 889 yards from scrimmage in 2023 while playing 11 games. He scored 3 touchdowns and turned on the gas down the stretch of 2023 once he became fully healthy. The ex-Packer will partner with Ty Chandler for a decent RB1-RB2 duo next season and perhaps end the Vikings’ rushing woes once and for all.

2. Sam Darnold, the “Bridge QB”

Sam Darnold
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Some fans and media entities spun this as “Kirk Cousins replacement.” But outside the false-outrage echo chamber, Darnold is on deck as the Vikings’ patchover quarterback for a rookie to be named later. That’s the working theory, anyway.

Minnesota’s quarterback room now consists of the following men, with the caveat that a rookie will likely be selected early in April’s draft:

  • Nick Mullens
  • Sam Darnold
  • Jaren Hall

The San Francisco 49ers employed Darnold as a QB2 in 2023, a contingency plan for Brock Purdy. Ultimately, the 49ers reached the Super Bowl with Purdy, and Darnold wasn’t much needed. He hit free agency a month later.

Teams led by Darnold are 21-35 (.375) in 56 career starts, mostly the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers. In six seasons, he’s banked 63 passing touchdowns and 56 interceptions, with 182.8 passing yards per game.

Darnold’s deal is worth up to $10 million.

1. Danielle Hunter Walks

ESPN Has Frightening
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It was fun while it lasted.

Hunter signed in the AFC on Tuesday evening, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “Danielle Hunter to the Texans on a two-year, $49 million deal, including $48 million guaranteed, per source. The deal has a max value of $51 million.”

The Vikings reportedly had a contract for Hunter similar to what he later signed in Houston, but when he didn’t oblige at the start of free agency, Minnesota proceeded without him, signing Jonathan Greenard from the Texans and Andrew Van Ginkel of the Miami Dolphins. There was no time to waste if Minnesota sought starting EDGE rushers. Waiting for Hunter to decide could’ve caused the Vikings to miss out on EDGE starters altogether.

After Hunter’s departure, Harrison Smith remains the Vikings’ longest-tenured player, but if he leaves, too, the title would belong to C.J. Ham.

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).

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