The Vikings over the years have signed some free agents who added incredible value to their team – and a few who ended up in Canton.
Among the notable names are defensive tackle Pat Williams, cornerback Antoine Winfield, Hall of Fame guard Steve Hutchinson and quarterback Randall Cunningham.
With 2021 free agency scheduled to open at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 17, CBS Sports' Bryan DeArdo highlighted every team’s greatest free agent signing.
It's worth noting that DeArdo did not limit his list to players who joined teams under free agency as we know it, which was instituted in 1993.
That meant he could list Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle for the Vikings. DeArdo wrote the following:
Deemed too short by the Buccaneers (who cut him shortly after [signing] him as an undrafted rookie), the 6-foot-1 Randle signed with the Vikings before the start of the 1990 season. A part-time starter in 1991, Randle broke into the starting lineup in 1992, when he recorded the first of eight consecutive double-digit sack seasons. The NFL's sack leader in 1997, Randle earned six straight All-Pro selections from 1993-98.
View photos of Vikings legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Randle.
Randle is tied for 10th all-time in career sacks, and he was selected as a member of the NFL's All-1990s Team.
In 2010, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
DeArdo listed a number of quarterbacks on his list, including Tampa Bay's signing of Tom Brady in 2020 en route to a Super Bowl LV victory. Other big-name QBs included the Saints adding Drew Brees; the Cowboys signing Tony Romo (as an undrafted free agent); the Broncos bringing on Peyton Manning; and Kurt Warner, who was named the greatest free agent signing for the Cardinals and the Rams.
Free agent options for Minnesota include G, DT
It remains to be seen what moves the Vikings will make when free agency opens on March 17. It's no secret that Minnesota's cap situation is fairly tight, as the team already has made roster moves over the past two weeks that included releasing tight end Kyle Rudolph, kicker Dan Bailey and tackle Riley Reiff.
But speculation is part of the game at this point in time, and Matthew Coller and Sam Ekstrom put their heads together for Purple Insider to list the "five best-fit free agents at every position of need" for the Vikings.
The pair of writers felt confident in saying Minnesota will need to add at least one guard, if not two, although the team also could address this need through the NFL Draft. If they do target the free agency pool, though, Coller and Ekstrom suggested five options: Joe Thuney, Kevin Zeitler, Austin Blythe, Forrest Lamp and Chris Reed.
Also listed were five defensive ends who could bolster the Vikings roster, including Carlos Dunlap, who previously spent time with Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati.
Coller and Ekstrom put Denver defensive tackle Shelby Harris at the top of the list for interior defensive line options. They wrote:
How many years will Harris be overlooked? He's been dominant as a rotational 3-tech for the Broncos on a series of cheap deals. At nearly 30 years old, it would make sense for Harris to find a bigger paycheck (and role) somewhere.
The duo looked at safeties, putting current Viking Anthony Harris at the top. If Minnesota doesn't re-sign Harris, other options could be Keanu Neal, Xavier Woods, Lamarcus Joyner or Duron Harmon. The Vikings played against Harmon twice last season after he left New England to join Detroit.
Following seven years of solid performance as a starter and rotational player for the Patriots, Harmon played 1,102 snaps on one of the worst defenses in the NFL last year. He did come out with a career low PFF grade but all things considered, giving up a 92.4 passer rating into his coverage seems like a victory. While there are bigger names than Harmon on the free agent market like Kenny Vaccaro, the Vikings may have to look for someone who has a solid history and is flying under the radar like Harmon.
The other positions covered by Coller and Ekstrom were backup quarterback, adding an additional kicker, cornerback, tackle and a third receiver. Included in the latter group was Marvin Jones, Jr., another player who might be finishing his time as a Lion.