Multiple members of the elite Vikings 2017 defense still need a job

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Everson Griffen
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Everson Griffen /

More than a handful of players from the Minnesota Vikings 2017 starting defense are among those that are still without a contract for the 2022 season.

Mike Zimmer is no longer the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. But his departure earlier this year doesn’t mean that the Vikings were unable to achieve any sort of success during his eight seasons with the franchise.

The 2017 campaign will easily go down as Minnesota’s most successful season with Zimmer as their head coach. Led by one of the best defenses in team history, the Vikings won 13 games during the regular season, and they earned an appearance in the 2017 NFC Championship.

Heading into the 2022 campaign, that 2017 season seems like forever ago for Minnesota. Especially when it comes to the players that made up the Vikings’ starting defense that year, as most of them are still without a team for the 2022 season.

Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes among the members of the Minnesota Vikings 2017 starting defense still in need of a team for 2022

Of the 11 starters from Minnesota’s starting defense in 2017, only three of them are under contract with an NFL team for the 2022 season. Interestingly enough, these three players are Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, and Harrison Smith, who are all obviously still on the Vikings’ roster.

As for the other eight guys, two of them (Terence Newman and Tom Johnson) have retired from the league. Newman never took the field in a meaningful game for Minnesota again after the 2017 NFC Championship, and after beginning his final year in the NFL in 2018 with the Seattle Seahawks, Johnson found his way back to the Vikings midway through the season, and he ended his career in a purple jersey.

That leaves six players from Minnesota’s 2017 starting defense that could still end up with a team for the 2022 campaign. This group includes Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr, Trae Waynes, and Andrew Sendejo.

Barr and Waynes seem to have the best chance to sign with a team this year as they are the youngest among the group. However, both have had their share of injury issues recently, so that might scare some teams away.

Rhodes had a resurgence in 2020 during his first season with the Indianapolis Colts. But the former Vikings shutdown cornerback came back to earth in 2021 and he’ll be 32-years-old by the start of the 2022 season. Rhodes could probably still provide some veteran leadership in the secondary for a team, but his time as a starting corner in the NFL is likely over.

Joseph’s days of being a full-time starter are probably over as well. But like Rhodes, his experience and leadership skills in the locker room could be valuable for a team in need of more interior defensive line help.

Griffen and Sendejo seem to have the lowest chance of finding a team for the 2022 season. Griffen is 34-years-old, and unfortunately, teams are probably going to shy away from signing him due to his recent history of incidents related to his mental health.

His best chance would be to land with a team that has a coach or staff member who he has previously worked with. Former Minnesota co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson is now with the New York Giants, so perhaps they might be willing to take a chance on Griffen if they’re looking for more pass-rushing help.

As for Sendejo, it’s honestly a surprise that he was on an NFL roster last season. He started 12 games for the Colts in 2021, but it would shock no one if last season turned out to be the last in the league for the former Vikings safety.

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