It's no secret that Minnesota entered the offseason tight against the salary cap, and the team has made a few moves that cleared some space.
So far, a handful of players have departed in free agency, and the Vikings have re-signed C.J. Ham, Britton Colquitt and Dan Bailey. The only outside free agent signed as of Friday morning is defensive tackle Michael Pierce (more on that below).
But Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune said there are remaining players available who would fit the Vikings needs and situation. He listed 10 free agents who could be potential options for Minnesota, including one Vikings fans will be familiar with: Jarius Wright. Krammer wrote:
The former Vikings receiver is available again after the Panthers declined his 2020 option. Statistically, Wright's most productive days are still in Minnesota, where the Vikings need reliable depth and a third-down catch once in a while.
In addition to Wright, Krammer also listed receivers Demaryius Thomas and Taylor Gabriel. He explained that because the Bears released Gabriel this offseason, he "would not count against the Vikings comp pick formula if signed."
The former Browns and Falcons burner missed seven games last year due to concussions. If healthy, he may be able to replace some of the speed left in the Stefon Diggs trade.
Krammer highlighted three offensive linemen, two safeties and two cornerbacks.
New DT Pierce demonstrates 'devastating bull rush'
The Vikings will have a new face in their defensive line room in 2020.
Minnesota signed Pierce earlier this week, and the 27-year-old has expressed excitement about the transition.
In wake of the addition, The Athletic's Arif Hasan delved into the signing and gave Vikings fans an idea of what they can expect from Pierce.
Hasan called Pierce an "effective" player over his first four NFL seasons. He wrote:
While he was PFF's 25th-ranked nose tackle in 2019, he was second behind Damon Harrison in 2018 and fifth in 2017 with only Damon Harrison, Linval Joseph, Kenny Clark and Al Woods ahead of him then.
Hasan consulted The Athletic contributor Brandon Thorn, who "specializes in evaluating" defensive line play. Thorn, who especially raved about Pierce's "special" 2017 campaign, told Hasan the following:
"Pierce is a fire hydrant in the middle of the defense. He has a massive, thick lower half with a tremendous center of gravity and natural leverage. (He) possesses elite play strength at the point of attack, which enables him to eat double-teams to free up linebackers. His powerful leg drive helps reset the line of scrimmage, forcing running backs to prematurely adjust their track.
"Pierce has powerful hands to hunker down and stay squared up moving laterally, cross-face back inside and two-gap all levels of competition," Thorn continued. "His hand usage helps him avoid backside cut blocks, and he works hard laterally in pursuit — where he's capable of making a surprising number of tackles at or outside the numbers. His combination of leverage, hand placement and lower-body power contribute to a devastating bull rush, but he doesn't offer much else as a pass-rusher."
Hasan pointed out that from 2017-19, only one nose tackle – Damon Harrison – had a higher run grade than Pierce.
In fact, Harrison is the only nose tackle to create more run stops per run defense snap than Pierce over the last three years.
So, the book on Pierce is that he's not a particularly efficient pass rusher but he's not bad for a nose tackle. He ranks 10thin PFF pass-rush grade against other nose tackles over those three years at the position and 15th in pressure rate._
Rudolph to host 'Virtual ProTalk'
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is hosting a "Virtual ProTalk" at 3 p.m. (CT) today on the ProCamps Facebook page.