Who Will The Viking Sign on Defense in 2021?
By: Martin Williams
With the likes of Dalvin Cook and rookie talent Justin Jefferson making plays on a weekly basis on offense, the Minnesota Vikings were a defense short of having some success last year.
They gave up on average 393 yards per game (per ESPN) ranking them 27th in the league. They will no doubt be looking to improve on that side of the ball in the hope of having a run at the playoffs when football returns.
Injuries to several key players were a massive part of what went wrong, and the return of those key individuals, such as Danielle Hunter, Michael Pierce and Eric Kendricks, will improve them no end.
But the team from Minneapolis will have their eye on a stacked defensive free agency. Here’s five possible additions that could add some steel to the roster.
1. J.C Jackson (Cornerback)
Adding an experienced cornerback would certainly be a start. Last season saw several changes in the Vikings backfield, where they picked up three rookie cornerbacks in the draft. Due to injuries, each played more snaps than anticipated. That experience would’ve done them good, but adding some much-needed experience could be top of their agenda.
Jackson is one of the best available in free agency and if he could be persuaded to leave the New England Patriots, he’d be a high quality addition.
He’d cost some money in cap space, but if Minnesota can make room, following a season that saw J.C register nine interceptions, he’s a game winner when at his best.
2. William Jackson III (Cornerback)
A more likely pickup in free agency, and one that wouldn’t hinder their salary cap too much, could be Jackson III.
As a first round pick in the 2016 draft, he’s stayed in Cincy ever since. If he’s looking for a change, Minnesota might be the place. He’d add plenty of experience, and could be an ideal foil for the young guns coming through in that position.
Not known for interceptions ”“ he’s only made three in his four years in the league ”“ he makes up for it by being reliable in coverage. Minnesota gave up over 4,000 passing yards during the season, a stat he could certain help improve.
3. Marcus Williams (Safety)
Another area of concern for the Vikings will be at safety. 12 months ago, they franchise-tagged Anthony Harris after an incredible season in which, according to PFF, he was the highest-graded safety in the league. Harris went undrafted in 2015 leaving the Vikings to pick him up. After a few years as a backup, in the 2019/20 season, he made the position his own racking up six interceptions in the process.
But having been tagged last offseason, he regressed massively last term, so much so he didn’t record a single interception and allowed a career high touchdowns allowed when in coverage.
Although Minnesota may try and bring Harris back, if they don’t, there are a couple of free agents that could fill the void, and Williams is one of them. With the Saints battling cap space, Williams could be forced out, and as one of the leagues best, he’d be a fantastic addition. He’s intelligent in the backfield and can make things happen.
4. Leonard Williams (DL)
The final two picks here could help the Vikings in another area where they struggled in 2020; getting pressure on opposing QBs. They recorded just 23 sacks last year, ranking 28th in the league.
As previously mentioned, injuries certainly didn’t help, but a couple of disruptive additions at the line of scrimmage wouldn’t go amiss.
Williams is great against the run, wouldn’t cost a great deal in salary, and although not a massive name, in terms of QB pressures and sacks, he had his best season to date in 2020.
He coupled 57 tackles with 11.5 sacks and will be a sought after target in free agency.
5. JJ Watt (DL)
It looks like an outside bet that Watt ends up in Minnesota, but he’s still worth being on this list. He might not be at the peak of his powers any more, but he will still be a top 15 player at the position wherever he ends up playing.
A 10-year veteran in the league, he’s amassed 101 sacks in that time. With the Vikings being in a different conference too, there is an outside chance that he could find his new home in Minneapolis.
The sort of player opposing QBs are all too aware of, he’s at the stage of his career where money won’t be everything. You could see him taking a reduced salary in order to help his new team gain some success. It would be an exciting addition to the roster and one that could have a big impact.