Which Vikings free agent signings have been successful?
There have been numerous signings made in free agency by the Minnesota Vikings, intent on getting the team back into the playoffs.
This does not happen.
And while the season as a whole was a failure, that doesn’t mean each player individually was a bad signing. These are the Vikings free agent signings that could be considered successful,
Starting with Special Teams – a disaster in 2020 – it led to a major overhaul under new Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken. After some initial struggles, Greg Joseph became one of the most reliable kickers in the league. He managed 33 of 38 field goals, with a completion rate of 86.8%, 11th best in the league. Seven out of nine made from 50+ proves he has the leg up for the big kicks. After the disappointment in Arizona, he came back to score two game-winning field goals. He finished the season with just one miss in the final 11 games. If the Vikings can bring him back for the minimum contract he had this season, it would be a no-brainer going forward.
Jordan Berry put up a solid punting season averaging 46.5 yards. It was the 12th best average in the league. He impressed with big punts when backed up, which is exactly what you need from your punter. At the same time, Dede Westbrook handled punt return duties with an assurance that was a delight after last season’s horror show. He had minimal involvement in the offense but performed well in his starring role.
The rest of the war chest was spent on the failed attempt to repair the Vikings defense, although some players did better than others. Dalvin Tomlinson was the big money signing earning $22 million over two years. Arguably Tomlinson’s most redeeming characteristic might be availability – due to a defensive line that saw Danielle Hunter lost to a season-ending injury, Everson Griffen to mental health and Michael Pierce during half of the season due to injury and illness. Fortunately, the Vikings managed to secure 16 games from the former New York giant – he missed one game due to a positive Covid-19 test.
Tomlinson had a strong season with a 74.9 rating from Focus on professional football, who was 14th highest in the league among interior defensive linemen. He had some very good games, and in others he had a little more trouble. Considering the inconsistent personnel on the defensive front seven throughout the season, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Injuries will happen and Covid-19 is still an issue, but finding consistency from starters on the defensive front will be key next season.
The other player the Vikings spent decent money on was patrick peterson, $8 million for one season. At 31, Peterson may not be the elite player he once was, but he was still the best corner on the Vikings’ roster this season – which unfortunately remained a bit of a mess. There’s still a role for Peterson in Minnesota if he wants it and the money is good.
Sheldon Richardson was slow to start but finished the season as a makeshift defensive end. He played the role well as the team began to run out of options in that position. One reason is the loss of Everson Claw, who looked at home in Minnesota. Unfortunately, mental health issues cut his season short.
The last player who had a pretty good season is Xavier Woods. It was a bit inconsistent, as he had good games and bad ones. He finished with three interceptions and 10 pass deflections. However, there were also times when he was badly beaten in cover and sniffled on tackles.
These are the Vikings free agent signings that I would consider successful. One problem the Vikings had this season was that it was the guys who were the best rookies. Other than maybe the kicker and punter, it’s probably fair to say they weren’t as good as they could be, or we hoped they could be.