Will the Vikings sign a free-agent defensive end before training camp?

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Justin Houston
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Justin Houston /

Will the Minnesota Vikings add another piece to their defensive line before they get training camp underway in July?

This offseason has been very busy for the Minnesota Vikings, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

During the last few months, the Vikings added defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, defensive end Stephen Weatherly, linebacker Nick Vigil, cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Xavier Woods, and cornerback Mackensie Alexander to a struggling defense that allowed the fourth-most points (29.7 per game) in the NFL last year.

With there still being a good amount of time before the start of the 2021 season, Minnesota could still add another veteran defensive end to potentially start opposite of Danielle Hunter (assuming he’s still on the roster).

There are still some good free-agent pass rushers left for the Minnesota Vikings to sign

Currently, the Vikings have just under $7 million in cap space. But on June 1, they will gain an extra $7.9 million thanks to the release of tight end Kyle Rudolph earlier this year. So if Minnesota is looking to add another defensive end to their roster before next season, they will have the money to do so.

Before he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings did reportedly express interest in former Washington Football Team pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan.

Some of the top veteran defensive ends still looking to find a team for next season are Justin Houston, Olivier Vernon, and Melvin Ingram.

In 10 NFL seasons, Houston has racked up a total of 97.5 sacks. As a member of the Indianapolis Colts during the last two years, he had a combined 19 sacks.

Vernon has been in the league for nine years, and during this time, he’s tallied a total of 63.5 sacks, including nine last season in a Cleveland Browns uniform.

Ingram has also been in the NFL for the last nine years and he’s managed to accumulate a total of 49 sacks during his career. Last season, he was only on the field for seven games, and he did not record a single sack. However, he did earn three trips to the Pro Bowl from 2017 to 2019 after racking up a total of 24.5 sacks during those three years.

While none of these guys are the same players they once were, they could all help Minnesota both with their play on the field and with the veteran leadership they can provide for the young defensive ends on the roster.

The Vikings drafted D.J. Wonnum in the fourth round in 2020, and this year, they drafted former Pittsburgh defensive end Patrick Jones II in the third round and former Florida State pass rusher Janarius Robinson in the fourth round.

Wonnum did have three sacks last season in 14 appearances for Minnesota and he could possibly be a long-term starter down the road. But he is probably not ready for this role just yet. Still, he should see a decent amount of snaps in 2021, even if the Vikings sign a defensive end.

Any free-agent defensive end Minnesota might add would certainly benefit from being on the same defensive line as Hunter, Tomlinson, and Michael Pierce. Since Ingram is coming off a knee injury, he likely won’t be as good of an option as Houston or Vernon, but he could still potentially help the Vikings next season.

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Minnesota’s defense has a good chance to once again be a top-10 unit under Mike Zimmer in 2021, and adding a defensive end could increase the chance of this happening even more.