Free-agent TDs Vikings can target with Akiem Hicks off the board

January 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Ndamukong Suh. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings reportedly held talks with defensive lineman Akiem Hicks this offseason, but nothing materialized as the former Chicago Bears defenseman signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday.

Many inside defensive linemen exist on the Vikings depth chart, namely Esezi Otomewo, Harrison Phillips, Dalvin Tomlinson, Jaylen Twyman and Armon Watts. It’s unclear if GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is seeking more depth in the position.

If he is, those are four free agent defensive tackles currently on the market. [in alphabetical order].


Maurice Hurst (49ers)

August 14, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports.

Perhaps the only name on the roster that people don’t know, Hurst was a 5th round draft pick by the Las Vegas Raiders in 2018. For the past two seasons, as Vikings EDGE rusher Danielle Hunter, Hurst struggled with injuries, dulling his free agency sting.

When healthy, however, Hurst’s ratings of Focus on professional football regularly live in the 70 range. He attended the University of Michigan and had 7.5 sacks in his first two seasons with the Raiders — before the injury bug hit.

Hurst probably wouldn’t start for the 2022 Vikings, but he would provide reasonable depth. Plus, a Hurst-to-Vikings deal would be affordable.

Star Lotulelei (Bills)

October 18, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports.

A first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Lotulelei hasn’t been too relevant since the 2019 season. Like Hurst, he hasn’t played much lately, withdrawing from the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. And in 2021, Lotulelei has played in 11 of 17 games, scoring a meager mark of 43.5 from PFF.

The Vikings wouldn’t need Lotulelei to start, but his veteran presence could be a dietary consolation prize for missing Hicks. He started 115 games in his career with the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills, and before 2020 he was incredibly durable.

Lotulelei is 32 years old.

Sheldon RichardsonVikings

Sheldon Richardson
September 23, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Richardson knows the Vikings, and the Vikings know Richardson. Twice, in 2018 and 2021, he was added to the Vikings roster for one-year stints.

Due to the lack of EDGE depth, former head coach Mike Zimmer even kicked Richardson out to the edges of the 2021 defensive line, where Richardson performed admirably. If Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer were still in charge, the likelihood of a Richardson reunion would be higher.

Alas, they are not, and Minnesota’s new regime should weigh the pros and cons of bringing Richardson back for another hooray.

Ndamukong Suh (buccaneers)

January 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Ndamukong Suh. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports

Suh hasn’t missed a football game in 10 years, and when he did in 2011, it was through suspension, not injury.

He’s also a Super Bowl champion, winning a ring with the Buccaneers in 2020. But now his former team has opted for the services of Akiem Hicks, leaving Suh still available on the open market – arguably as the best player in the game. inside line of the table.

Suh is 35 years old and is finishing a successful career. While it’s certainly debatable whether the Vikings are Super Bowl contenders, Suh will likely sign with a contender (if he doesn’t retire).

Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson thinks Minnesota’s roster is “stacked,” so why not add Suh to the mix?

A Suh union would abandon Armon Watts to a reserve role.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube channel, VikesNow. He host a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, airing every Wednesday with Raun Saw and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures listed: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, “The Sopranos” and The Doors (the band).

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