The Minnesota Vikings free agents class of 2022 wasn’t filled with household names. Still, they can come back and contribute this upcoming season.
The Vikings front office and new coaching staff have watched several players test free agency. Those Vikings free agents included Tyler Conklin, Mason Cole, Xavier Woods, Nick Vigil, and Dakota Dozier ( yes Dakota Dozier got signed ). None of these guys will raise any eyebrows but were key contributors to the 2021 season. What about the players who left and remained unsigned? The list is short but the new regime should consider a reunion.
Vikings Free Agents
Anthony Barr, the former ninth overall pick of the 2014 draft has been a staple in the Viking’s defenses . He is a four-time pro bowler and a second-team all-pro teamer in 2015. After the 2019 season, he left for the New York Jets but he came back and signed a lucrative deal. Since then things went downhill for him. He missed 14 games in 2020 due to a torn pectoral. Then missed 6 games in 2021 due to a bad knee. Retaining Barr would “ be a tougher situation to navigate. Never say never. Those decisions are tough according to Gm Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at his March 23rd press conference. Barr offers leadership and can be a great locker room player for Minnesota. Running things back will be a benefit for both parties.
The nine-year veteran finds himself on the free-agent market for the fourth time in his career. Last year he played in all seventeen games for the Vikings. He recorded 2.5 sacks, 39 combined tackles, and forced a fumble with a recovery. Retaining Richardson would not be expensive, add another veteran presence and depth to the pass-rushing rotation. Richardson has been a productive player for the majority of his career. He is very familiar with the 3-4 scheme defensive coordinator Ed Donatell is bringing to the squad. Just like Barr he is owed dead cap money due to a void year.
Westbrook was the Viking’s starting punt returner and fourth rotational wide receiver. He had a torn ACL in 2020 . Westbrook never seemed to catch up to Klint Kubiak’s system or never got a proper shot at receiver. Where I see Westbrook coming back is for that starting punt returner position. It can be a challenge for any pro but he did a good job in that role. He had a solid 8.3 yards per return and zero fumbles and a long of 45 yards. We have seen teams lose games because of the third phase of the game which is Special teams. It will bring stability to the returned unit and possibilities of finding the next Marcus Sherels.
Yes, Chris Herndon the player the Vikings foolishly traded to the Jets for a fourth-rounder pick. At the time the move made sense as Irv Smith Jr went down with a torn meniscus. Reports on Herdon were that he was going to get cut. Coach Zimmer at the time wasn’t sold on him. Zimmer stated “ He was a guy that was kind of pretty good in most areas. “ Herndon went on to play 16 games starting in 5 with 4 catches and 40 yards with 1 touchdown.
He was supposed to help fill the hole left by Smith but it ended up being the Tyler Conklin show, the hole remains. The presumed backups are Ben Ellefson, Johny Mundt, and Zach Davidson who have a combined 3 career starts. Herndon can come to compete for a backup role. It would make drafting a tight end a lower priority in draft. It would be worth the shot for this coaching staff and maybe make up for that lost fourth-rounder.