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Free Agency Preview: Defensive Line

Posted Mar 8, 2014

Over the next several days leading up to the launch of the 2014 League Year on Tuesday, March 11, vikings.com will unveil its 2014 Free Agency Preview. NFL.com has ranked the top 100 free agents in this year’s class, and our preview will use those rankings to set the stage. As always, we encourage readers to use the space below the story to submit their thoughts.

Defensive end is a premium position in the NFL, and it’s one of the deepest positions in this year’s free agency class. That’s an unusual confluence of circumstances, but such is the case beginning on Tuesday. Two of the top five and three of the top 10 players in NFL.com’s overall free agent rankings play defensive end. On top of that, the Vikings have two defensive ends – Jared Allen and Everson Griffen – who are scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency.

NFL.com’s Top 10 Free Agent DEs (overall ranking)

Vikings

1. Michael Johnson (3)
Production, size and youth – Johnson has all the traits that typically comprise a blue chip free agent. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer knows Johnson very well from their Cincinnati days together.

2. Lamarr Houston (5)
3. Michael Bennett (9)
A free agent at this time last year, Bennett took a one-year deal in Seattle and parlayed it into an 8.5-sack, Super Bowl-winning season. He should like his contract offers much more this year.

4. Everson Griffen (19) and 5. Jared Allen (30)
A pair of Vikings are scheduled to hit the market but are in different stages of their careers.

6. Arthur Jones (31)
7. Justin Tuck (39)
A veteran with some wear and tear on the tread, but he did have 9.5 sacks last season.

8. Tyson Jackson (54)
9. Willie Young (55)
9. Shaun Phillips (62)
10. Anthony Spencer (73) and Antonio Smith (77)

Other notables: Alex Carrington (92), Robert Ayers, Mike Neal, Corey Wootton

Vikings scheduled for free agency
Jared Allen
Everson Griffen

The Vikings spent a first-round pick on a defensive tackle last year – Sharrif Floyd was selected 23rd overall. But with a pair of productive players from last year’s squad set to hit the market – Fred Evans and Kevin Williams – and with Letroy Guion being released last week, the Vikings may be in the market for a defensive tackle in free agency.

NFL.com’s Top 10 Free Agent DTs (overall ranking)

Vikings

1. Jason Hatcher (16)
2. Henry Melton (17)
Melton’s coming off an ACL injury, but that’s the only thing keeping him from being one of the best free agents on the entire market.

3. BJ Raji (18)
4. Randy Starks (21)
5. Linval Joseph (24)
With excellent size (6-4, 323), good production, just two missed games the past three seasons and entering his fifth season at only age 25, Joseph should be appealing to several teams looking for a disruptive presence in the middle of their line.

6. Paul Soliai (33)
He’s a huge (6-4, 340) and durable (14 games played last six seasons) run-stopper, but he’s 30 years old.

7. Red Bryant (40)
8. Pat Sims (56)
9. Jonathan Babineaux (74)
10. Kevin Williams (78)

Other notables: Clinton McDonald (82), Earl Mitchell (100), Terrence Cody, Aubrayo Franklin

Vikings scheduled for free agency
Fred Evans
Kevin Williams

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