3 free agents the Vikings were wise to avoid in 2024

Philadelphia Eagles RB Saquon Barkley
Philadelphia Eagles RB Saquon Barkley / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Since the start of free agency last week, the Minnesota Vikings have seen a lot of changes take place with their roster. Out the door went some of the Vikings' longtime contributors like Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, and in walked some new faces like Jonathan Greenard, Aaron Jones, and Blake Cashman.

Heading into the 2024 offseason, there were a number of pending free agents on the wish lists of Minnesota fans. And despite a good portion of the Vikings fan base being excited about the players the team has actually added in free agency, not all of them were viewed as some of the best available within their position groups.

Even though there might currently be some disappointment from Minnesota fans about missing out on one of the so-called "big-name free agents" this year, there's a good chance that some of these top targets are going to turn out to be bad signings. So, of the players that have signed in free agency so far this offseason, who are some that fans should be happy the Vikings ended up avoiding them?

3 free agents the Minnesota Vikings were wise to avoid in 2024

Saquon Barkley - RB

After a second-straight season with the Vikings having a lackluster rushing attack, some felt it would have been a good idea for the team to pursue former New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley in free agency this year.

Barkley ended up signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, and judging by the contract that he agreed to, Minnesota passing on the 27-year-old running back will likely turn out to be a good move.

After spending the last six seasons with the Giants, Barkley signed a three-year contract with the Eagles worth $37.75 million. The veteran running back is now set to make an average of $12.58 million per year with Philadelphia.

Instead of overspending on Barkley this offseason, the Vikings were much more efficient with their money, and they wound up signing former Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones to a one-year deal worth $7 million.

Compared to Barkley since 2021, Jones has a higher yards per carry average, a higher yards per reception average, and six more receiving touchdowns. So, for less money, Minnesota is getting a running back who is more efficient and a better option as a receiver out of the backfield.

Arik Armstead - DL

On the first day of the new league year, the San Francisco 49ers decided to release defensive lineman Arik Armstead after nine seasons with the franchise.

Almost immediately after Armstead was let go by the 49ers, a number of Vikings fans wanted the team to pursue the longtime defensive lineman. But in the end, he wound up signing a three-year contract worth $43.5 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Armstead is now 30-years-old, and he's missed a total of 13 games in the last two seasons. Good for him for landing another lucrative deal at the tail end of his career, but Minnesota is better off not paying an aging, injury-prone defensive lineman more than $14.5 million per year.

Christian Wilkins - DT

Former Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was arguably at the top of almost every free-agent wish list for Vikings fans this offseason. The only problem was that no one really knew how much Wilkins was really about to cash in during free agency this year.

The former Dolphins defensive lineman was one of the first free agents to sign a new deal this offseason, and his came in the form of a four-year contract from the Las Vegas Raiders worth $110 million, including $57.5 fully guaranteed.

Wilkins is a talented defender, and him reuniting with Minnesota defensive coordinator Brian Flores would have been fun. But the Vikings made the right decision by not being the ones to give him the massive contract that he landed from the Raiders.

Perhaps Wilkins will take his play to a higher level with Las Vegas, but the guy hasn't even been selected to a Pro Bowl roster during his five seasons in the NFL. Maybe he'll prove to be worth the $27.5 million he'll be making per year with the Raiders, but it seems like there's a better chance that he won't.

More Vikings News and Analysis