Saturday, June 25, 2022

Vikings tied with free agent Pro Bowl defensive tackle

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Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is nearing completion, beginning the summer months leading up to the 2022 season.

The extension of Kirk Cousins ​​and the restructuring of the contracts of veterans Adam Thielen and Harrison Smith to make short-term space to sign veteran defenders and offensive linemen to help the Vikings win now. He also reinforced several positional groups through the draft with high-profile athletes who could contribute this season.

However, one area remains a top concern for ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell, who suggested the Vikings sign a former rival Pro Bowl talent.

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In an article published May 26, Barnwell took stock of Minnesota’s offseason and commended Adofo-Mensah for a “measured, logical” first offseason as general manager of the Vikings.

Inheriting a playoff-caliber roster, Adofo-Mensah chose to primarily keep the team intact and fill the roster with defensive players who can become the foundation of defensive coordinator Ed Donatell’s 3-4 basic scheme.

Donatell will task three defenders to fill holes and stop the run after Minnesota held four defenders up front for over a decade. This requires big defensive tackles, especially the nose tackle, which should justify two blockers against him at any time.

The Vikings’ problems on defense over the last two seasons were primarily due to their failure to stop the run, which allowed for the league’s sixth- and seventh-most rushing yards in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Minnesota doesn’t have many linemen north of 300 pounds who can fill the role of Linval Joseph at nose tackle other than Dalvin Tomlinson at 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds.

Barnwell suggested the Vikings sign depth on the defensive line and suggested former Chicago Bears Pro Bowl defenseman Akiem Hicks could fill that role.

“Minnesota needs depth along their defensive line, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Vikings added a veteran play on the free hand or during training camp cutbacks. I wonder if they would turn to Akiem Hicks or Eddie Goldman, both of whom played a similar defensive style in Chicago as the Vikings under Ed Donatell,” Barnwell wrote.

Hicks has been a bane for the Vikings over the years, interfering with Dalvin Cook’s effectiveness on offense. But after missing 18 games over the past three seasons due to various lower body and elbow injuries, Hicks was fired by the new Chicago regime.

Hicks, like Joseph, hasn’t always had the flashiest numbers in his career, but he did pick up Pro Bowl honors in 2018. He also put together a full 2020 season of 49 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 16 games.

Donatell was Chicago’s defensive backs coach from 2015 to 2018. A Hicks-Donatell reunion would make sense for the couple, who could get revenge on their former team twice in the upcoming season.

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While the idea of ​​Hicks joining the Vikings is appealing given his distinguished career, Goldman could be the more reliable option at this stage in both players’ careers.

Goldman, 27, has many years left in his prime, while Hicks, 32, is moonlighting in his career.

However, the Vikings may not need Hiccup to play 40 snaps per game and could use him for early work and keep his health in check. It would also be beneficial in Minnesota’s books to try to get Hicks on a deal in that vein.

While the idea of ​​Hicks joining the Vikings is appealing given his distinguished career, Goldman could be the more reliable option at this stage in both players’ careers.

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