Assessing B/R's four Vikings free agent targets from wild card weekend (2024)

Bleacher Report's Matt Holder put together a list of noteworthy impending free agents playing during super wild card weekend, naming three potential landing spots for each player. Of the 12 players (one per team) who were highlighted, the Vikings were included as a possible destination for four of them. Let's take a look at those players and see if they make sense for Minnesota in 2024.

Dolphins DT Christian Wilkins

Given his production over the last few years, Wilkins will arguably be the top interior defender available in free agency. He's able to impact the passing game, as evidenced by his 20.5 career sacks and 19 career passes defended. Also, he's a quality run defender with a good grade from Pro Football Focus in that department this season and throughout his time in the NFL. The five-year veteran should have no shortage of suitors on the open market, partially because he has the versatility to play as a defensive tackle in even fronts or at end for a team that primarily uses odd fronts.

Wilkins has never made a Pro Bowl, but the 28-year-old is a star at the defensive tackle position. He's coming off a season in which he racked up nine sacks and 58 pressures, and he's always been extremely impactful against the run. There's an obvious connection to the Vikings with coordinator Brian Flores, who coached Wilkins during his first three seasons. They could certainly use a difference-maker in the middle of their defensive front.

With that said, it's highly unlikely Wilkins ends up in Minnesota. The Dolphins might end up franchise-tagging him, and if they don't, he's going to get a huge contract from someone. This Vikings regime hasn't given out a free agent deal with more than a $14 million AAV (Za'Darius Smith) in two offseasons, and the cap space probably isn't there to land a big fish like Wilkins.

Assessing B/R's four Vikings free agent targets from wild card weekend (1)

Steelers QB Mason Rudolph

Pittsburgh doesn't have many notable impending free agents, and Rudolph certainly didn't fall into that category at the beginning of the year or even a month ago. However, there's no denying that the team's offense has been much-improved since he's been under center. It averaged 17.9 points per game (28th in the NFL) for the entire season but moved up to 27.0 PPG (fifth) in the last three games. This is also a relatively weak free-agent quarterback class, and if this season has taught general managers anything, it's that investing in a good backup signal-caller is important.

If the Vikings let Kirk Cousins walk and decide to sign a cheap-ish veteran as their backup or bridge quarterback (they're also presumably drafting a QB in that scenario), Rudolph could fit the mold. He played well down the stretch for the Steelers, winning the final three games of the regular season without throwing any picks.

Cowboys DT Neville Gallimore

The Cowboys don't have a ton of notable impending free agents, and while running back Tony Pollard is the bigger name, Gallimore is a decent under-the-radar player. The defensive tackle's production is underwhelming, but he's also buried on the Cowboys' depth chart behind Osa Odighizuwa, who is having an excellent season. The Oklahoma product hasn't gotten much playing time this year, but he was a quality prospect coming out of college who could make an impact on both phases of the game.

Gallimore is the type of free agent DT who could make more sense for the Vikings than an established star like Wilkins. The 27-year-old played fewer than 300 defensive snaps this season, but he may still have some upside with a change of scenery. He's an explosive athlete who was taken in the third round back in 2020.

Buccaneers S Antoine Winfield Jr.

Winfield Jr. is a stat-sheet stuffer as an extremely versatile safety who can make an impact on all three levels of the defense. During the regular season, he logged elite grades from Pro Football Focus overall, against the run, and as a pass-rusher while only being a few points shy of an elite mark in coverage. The former second-round pick is arguably one of the best players at the position in the league, so he'll undoubtedly be on top of any team's list that is looking for a safety on the open market.

There were countless fans in Minnesota who wanted the Vikings to take Winfield instead of Jeff Gladney in the 2020 draft. If only the team would've listened. Winfield has been great since he entered the league, but he went to another level this year with a ridiculously good season. He had six sacks, six forced fumbles, 12 passes defended, three picks, and a 91.2 PFF grade while being named a first team All-Pro.

There's almost zero chance Winfield ends up with the Vikings this year. If he doesn't get tagged by the Bucs, he'll command a huge contract on the open market. And even if Harrison Smith retires, safety won't be a pressing need for the Vikings, who also have Camryn Bynum, Josh Metellus, Theo Jackson, and Lewis Cine.

Assessing B/R's four Vikings free agent targets from wild card weekend (2)

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Assessing B/R's four Vikings free agent targets from wild card weekend (2024)

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