6 free agents who should be on the Vikings wish list for 2024

Jacksonville Jaguars pass rusher Josh Allen
Jacksonville Jaguars pass rusher Josh Allen / Perry Knotts/GettyImages
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Free Agent No. 5

Xavier McKinney - S

2023 Team: New York Giants

While Antoine Winfield Jr. is the safety that many Vikings fans would like to see in purple if Harrison Smith retires, it sounds like there's a good chance the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will use their franchise tag Winfield this offseason, which would prevent him from reaching free agency.

If Winfield becomes unavailable as expected, Minnesota could still add a very good free-agent safety this year in Xavier McKinney. In fact, McKinney and Winfield put up very similar numbers this past season, so it's not like the former Giants safety would be a downgrade.

In 17 games in 2023, McKinney accumulated 116 tackles (two for a loss), 11 pass breakups, three interceptions, one forced fumble, and 0.5 sacks.

What separates him from Winfield is the fact that he finished with the best pass-coverage grade from PFF among qualifying safeties this past season (Winfield had the 10th-best grade).

McKinney excelling in pass coverage is something that could make him a great fit with the Vikings, considering how often Minnesota defensive coordinator Brian Flores tends to call plays that put his defensive backs in 1-on-1 situations.

His missed-tackle rate of 5.7 percent was also the fourth-lowest among qualifying safeties in the NFL in 2023. So if McKinney has to step up and make a tackle, he's typically able to get the job done.

Believe it or not, at this point in their NFL careers, the Vikings having McKinney in their defense would likely be an upgrade over Smith. So if he retires, Minnesota would be perfectly fine if they replaced him with the former New York safety.