4 intriguing free agents the Minnesota Vikings should pursue

Cardinals, Patrick Peterson, Vikings
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings enter the 2021 NFL offseason with a few needs to address and not a lot of money to do so. The Vikings will need to get creative and be careful about the players they decide to sign because they already have virtually no cap space to work with.

The Vikings already have some pieces in place with wide receiver Adam Thielen, running back Dalvin Cook, and quarterback Kirk Cousins (unless they look to trade him). With that being said, they have spent a lot of money over the years extending some of their players, which resulted in them not having too much to spend on free agents.

Minnesota wrapped up the 2020 season with a 7-9 record and with some very obvious needs at multiple positions. The Vikings will have to Houdini some moves if they hope to land any notable players this offseason.

They do have some moves they need to make, although they don’t have a lot of money to do so. Here’s a look at four free agents the Vikings should consider this offseason.

Shelby Harris, Defensive Tackle, Broncos

Shelby Harris is a 290-pound defensive tackle who currently plays for the Denver Broncos. Harris, 29, hasn’t started too much except in the past two seasons, but he’s proven to be a solid run stuffer and should be a great fit for a team on a budget this offseason.

Harris logged 32 tackles, four tackles for a loss, 11 quarterback hits, seven passes defended, one forced fumble, and 2.5 sacks this season with the Broncos and proved he can be an effective run stuffing defensive tackle. His pass deflections are also worth noting as he batted away seven attempted passes at the line of scrimmage this season, which is another huge asset to a team.

He would mesh really well with defensive minded head coach Mike Zimmer and he could be a difference maker for the team for years to come. Harris isn’t the best defensive tackle on the market, but he would be perfect for the Vikings.

Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, Cardinals

Patrick Peterson may be out of the Minnesota price range, but that shouldn’t stop them from being in the market for him. Peterson, 30, isn’t the lockdown cornerback he used to be, but he is still a very solid corner.

He is more than likely going to be given a lucrative contract from a needy team, but the idea of him going to the Vikings makes sense. Peterson would be able to sign a two or three-year deal, space out some of his money to the later portion of his contract, and be a great mentor for the young corners the Vikings have now.

If the Vikings treat Peterson the way they did Terrance Newman a few years ago and bring him in to mentor their youth and play a solid role with the team, he could be interested in playing in Minnesota. If the Vikings were able to land Peterson, they could get one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL and be looking good in the secondary next season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Quarterback, Dolphins

The Minnesota Vikings have been vocal about the future of Kirk Cousins in Minnesota being uncertain, and the team could look to move on from the veteran this offseason. If the Vikings do manage to trade Cousins away, they could look to draft a quarterback and sign a guy like Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been in this same role seemingly his entire career.

Fitzpatrick is as good as gold when it comes to grooming rookie quarterbacks, as teams he’s been on have seen their young backups take excellent strides and be starting quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick, somehow, still has some football left in him and if the Vikings signed him to a one-year deal to be a starter/mentor, he may be willing to accept that deal.

In 2020, Fitzpatrick led the Miami Dolphins to a 4-3 win loss record while completing 68.5 percent of his passes, tossing 2,091 passing yards, and had a touchdown to interception ratio of 13:8. Fitzpatrick also ran the ball 30 times for 151 yards and two scores as well, as the veteran has proven to still have some juice in his legs.

Trey Hendrickson, Defensive End, Saints

If the Vikings attempt to splurge at any position this offseason, it should be at the defensive end position. One guy they could go after is New Orleans Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who led the NFC in sacks in 2020.

Hendrickson saw himself have career highs in nearly every statistical category in 2020 and he could be a solid player on the Vikings’ defensive line for years to come. Hendrickson logged 25 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 25 quarterback hits, one pass defended, one forced fumble, and 13.5 sacks in 2020 and will look to cash in this offseason.

He burst onto the scene for the Saints this season and was forced to be the starting defensive end to start the year as Marcus Davenport was healing from an injury. Hendrickson will be highly sought after this offseason, but a needy team like the Vikings could give him the best offer.