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Lunchbreak: NFL Experts Grade Vikings Start in 2022 Free Agency

Two days into free agency, plenty of moves have been made around the league.

ESPN looked at the transactions they dubbed most significant and graded the respective teams’ involvement. Included on the list was Minnesota's signing of linebacker Jordan Hicks, who previously has played for the Eagles and Cardinals.

ESPN gave the Vikings a "B" grade for the addition, writing the following:

Hicks was a baller for Arizona last season with 116 tackles, 4.0 sacks and five pass deflections. It's important to remember that the Vikings are essentially reconfiguring their defense in short order, from [former Head Coach] Mike Zimmer's scheme to new [Defensive Coordinator] Ed Donatell's game plan rooted in a 3-4. Those schematic lines are blurred more in the modern NFL, but the point is the Vikings need instinctive veteran players to facilitate any transition. Hicks can handle that.

ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller weighed in on what the Hicks signing means for Minnesota heading into the 2022 NFL Draft.

With the team's needs at cornerback and on the defensive line – especially pass-rushers – expected to dominate its picks in the early rounds of the draft, this is a smart move for Minnesota to add veteran leadership and coverage ability that isn't likely found in the middle rounds.

Another move highlighted by ESPN didn't happen in Minnesota but affects the Vikings nonetheless. The Packers on Thursday traded star receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for draft picks.

Vikings fans likely are breathing a sigh of relief at Adams' – who racked up 1,553 receiving yards last season – departure to the AFC. Adams totaled 93 receptions for 1,050 yards and 13 touchdowns in 15 games against Minnesota, including a whopping eight scores in the past four Border Battles.

ESPN doled out grades for each team, and they drastically differed: an "A" for Las Vegas and a "D" for Green Bay, who recently extended Aaron Rodgers. ESPN's Kevin Seifert wrote about the high Raiders grade:

The Raiders, meanwhile, should be ecstatic. The best receiver in football wanted to play for them, in large part because he was teammates with quarterback Derek Carr at Fresno State. Adams will help them keep up with the wild race in the AFC West, where teams are loading up on offensive firepower and pass-rushers as if 2022 will be the final season in NFL history. Giving up two of their top picks in the draft should be of little concern, given the upside here.

The Athletic grades Minnesota's free agent additions in Hicks, Phillips

Similar to ESPN, The Athletic is grading free agency moves across the league and gave Minnesota a pat on the back for its recent defensive additions.

The Vikings received a "B-plus" grade for signing Hicks. Sheil Kapadia wrote:

Hicks' 384 tackles over the past three seasons rank fifth league-wide. After battling injuries early in his career, Hicks didn't miss a start from 2019-2021. He played the fifth-most defensive snaps in the NFL during that span.

Given what other off-ball linebackers like Foyesade Oluokun received ($15 million per year from the Jaguars), this is nice value for the Vikings. They get a quality starter for $5 million per year.

The Vikings also signed defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, who spent the first four seasons of his career in Buffalo. Kapadia gave the move a "B-minus" grade.

Phillips started eight games for the Bills last season and played 55 [percent] of the snaps. He performed well against the run but has just 1.5 sacks in 45 career games.


The Vikings signed defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson last offseason, so it's fair to wonder if they needed to pour more resources into this position. But $6.5 million per year is reasonable for a starting nose tackle.