The Minnesota Vikings‘ top three pass-rushers are headed for free agency in the spring and turnover on the edge seems inevitable.
Bleacher Report’s NFL Staff pitched the pursuit of former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young in the upcoming offseason as a solution. Young spent the first three and a half years of his career with the Washington Commanders before the team traded him to the San Francisco 49ers in late October for a third-round draft pick.
Minnesota is likely going to be looking for some edge defenders this offseason. Considering his age and potential, Young will be one of the top players available at the position.
While the majority of his tenure in Washington was marred by injuries, he’s been healthy for the majority of this season and managed to rack up 6.5 sacks heading into the weekend, including a half-sack during his debut in San Francisco. Even if the Vikings bring DJ Wonnum back, pairing him with Young would give them a couple of good edge-rushers for years to come.
Bringing Back Danielle Hunter May Prove Challenge for Vikings
Danielle Hunter is among the league leaders in sacks (12) and tackles for loss (16), and figures to try and squeeze as many dollars as he can out of his fantastic contract year. Minnesota gave up its rights to franchise Hunter upon reworking his deal over the summer, which means he will carry significant cost over multiple seasons if the Vikings hope to keep him around.
Marcus Davenport is playing on a one-year, $13 million deal after a poor showing with the New Orleans Saints in 2022. He has just two sacks in only four games played this season and has battled injury for much of the campaign. As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Vikings decide to shuffle him out of town come March.
Wonnum is second on the team with six sacks through 11 games and is playing the final season of his four -year, $4 million rookie contract. Wonnum’s production level and likely price point render him the most likely of the Vikings’ top edge-rushers to return to the fold in 2024 and beyond.
Chase Young Re-Establishing Value in Resurgent Season
Clearing Hunter off the books would allow the Vikings the cap space to sign a premier edge-rusher in free agency. One can make an argument both for and against Young qualifying as such a player, though the contract he signs next year is likely to reflect his age (24) and considerable raw talent.
Young signed a four-year, $34.5 million rookie deal in 2020 after the Commanders selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Spotrac currently projects Young’s market value at $13.6 million annually, though that number is likely to jump if he continues playing well during a resurgent season.
During his rookie campaign, Young produced 24 pressures, 12 QB hits, 10 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 4 pass breakups and scored a defensive touchdown, per Pro Football Reference. He has amassed 21 pressures, 12 QB hits and 7 tackles for loss to go along with his 6.5 sacks through nine games played in 2023.