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Monday Morning Mailbag: Recapping First Wave of Vikings Free Agency

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It appears improving the defense with some veteran additions was a priority this offseason. What do Dalvin Tomlinson and Patrick Peterson bring that can make an impact in 2021?

— Ryan in California

A frenzied first week of free agency is in the books, and the Vikings made it quite clear where their focus was.

Minnesota brought a pair of their own offensive players back in Rashod Hill and Chad Beebe, but the Vikings main priorities were on defense with the additions of Tomlinson and Peterson.

Tomlinson is a powerful and durable defensive tackle who has started all 64 games in the past four seasons and brings some versatility to the Vikings defensive line.

He said Thursday that he expects to play the 3-technique spot next to Michael Pierce, but also noted he can slide over to the other defensive tackle spot. No matter where he plays, however, Tomlinson said he expects to use his skill set to stop the run and get after the passer.

"We really haven't sat down and talked about exactly which position I'm going to play but all I can assume is I'm going to play a little bit of 3-tech and shade, as they go hand in hand together," Tomlinson said. "I feel like I'm pretty stout at the run game and I can bring a good element of [defending] the run game to the Minnesota Vikings, as well as pass rush to get after the quarterback and collapse the pocket."

Tomlinson's presence is needed in both facets on defense. The Vikings run defense ranked 27th with 134.4 rushing yards allowed per game in 2020, a season that was highlighted by a season-worst 264 rushing yards (and seven rushing scores) on Christmas Day against the Saints.

And the Vikings only recorded 23 sacks this past season, which was the lowest mark in franchise history since sacks became an official stat in 1982.

As for Peterson, he's an eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro who brings an incredible veteran presence to the cornerbacks room.

While his age — he'll turn 31 in July — might make some wonder if he'll be the same player, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft was acquired to make a significant impact in Purple and will likely be counted upon to do so.

Jeff Gladney and Cameron Danztler had their ups and downs as rookies in 2020, but they will also be expected to take steps forward this coming season. Having the chance to learn from a potential Hall of Famer like Peterson should speed up that process.

To close, the addition of both Tomlinson and Peterson — plus the expected returns of Pierce, Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks — all means that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's defense should hopefully return to form in 2021.

View photos of new Vikings CB Patrick Peterson who recently joined the team.

I understand Kirk Cousins wants to be paid, but doesn't he realize that he is closing the Vikings championship window shut? We can't pay anybody because we don't have the money to sign any free agents that are good enough to make a difference. My Kirk for a couple of draft picks.

— JP

I'm perplexed as to why Cousins won't work with his team to restructure his monstrous contract to help his team. Doesn't represent team spirit as I see it. Just wished the Vikings could just once field a true all-for-one, one-for-all team and get it done!

— Kermit Schaefer in Aurora, Colorado

Every NFL quarterback is under the microscope, and Kirk is no different here in Minnesota.

But for those calling for him to take a pay cut, remember that he did restructure a year ago to help the team's cap situation and received a multiyear contract extension. You can't expect a player to do that every single season, and it's unfortunate that the salary cap dropped so much, but that certainly isn't Cousins' fault.

View the best photos of Vikings QB Kirk Cousins from the 2020 season.

Players only have a finite amount of time to make money in their career, so I never fault those who want to cash in while they can.

Is Kirk paid big money? Sure, but most quarterbacks are. Does he need to be more consistent in 2021 and avoid the turnovers that marred a slow start last season? Yes, but he would be the first to say that.

If Cousins can play like he did in the final 10 games of the season — completing 236 of 341 passes (69.2 percent) for 2,790 yards with 24 touchdowns and three interceptions —he'll be worth every penny of that contract.

And, if Cousins can play like that for most or all of the season, there's a good chance that means the Vikings are back in the postseason, too.

I question the re-signing of Chad Beebe. I'm just not sold that he offers anything of real value. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

— Clarence "Bud" Minke in New Richmond, Wisconsin

Appreciate the email, Bud, and for the support from across the St. Croix River.

I don't think anyone is looking at Beebe returning as the move that vaults the Vikings back into the playoffs. But there is certainly a role for him here, and he's coming off a fairly strong 2020 season.

For one, he stayed healthy in 2020, playing in 14 games and recording 20 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns. That was an uptick from a combined six catches for 109 yards in six games in 2018 and 2019.

Sure, the muffed punt against the Panthers stands out. But he responded in a big way with the game-winning touchdown catch just minutes later, a testament to his resolve.

Nobody expects Beebe to compete with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson for targets this season. But he will be in the mix at punt returner, could be the third or fourth option on the depth chart at wide receiver to still bring value to the team.