After inviting Dalton Risner to training camp in August, the Vikings have followed through by signing the prized veteran guard weeks after his initial visit.
“The #Vikings are signing FA G Dalton Risner, sources say,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on September 18. “The former #Broncos starter — and one of the top free agents available — lends valuable experience to Minnesota’s line.”
The Vikings hosted Risner for a visit at the start of training camp but allowed him to walk without a contract. Several injuries to the offensive line have prompted Minnesota to sign the former Broncos guard.
Oli Udoh was ruled out with a season-ending injury he suffered in Week 2, thrusting David Quessenberry to fill in for starting left tackle Christian Darrisaw (ankle). Austin Schlottman has started in place of center Garrett Bradbury (back), leaving Blake Brandel as the only healthy reserve lineman after Week 2.
Risner finished last season tied for ninth in run-block win rate (74%) among guards, according to ESPN. Pro Football Focus graded him as the third-best guard available when free agency opened in March and the 46th-best player overall.
Vikings G Ed Ingram on Notice
The Vikings’ lag in signing Risner signals this move is not made for merely depth purposes.
After two losses where the offensive line has struggled, Risner is here to take a starting job. That may not happen right away, but all signs point to Ed Ingram‘s role being on notice.
Ingram, who led the league in pressures last season, has been the subject of scrutiny as he hasn’t taken a significant step in his second season. Through two games, Ingram has allowed a sack, four quarterback hits and two hurries for seven pressures total. He’s graded 60th out of 74 guards by Pro Football Focus this season.
When Kevin O’Connell was asked in training camp whether Risner, primarily a left guard in Denver, could play either spot, O’Connell revealed that was the major question asked of Risner during his visit.
“His predominant history is on that left side, that’s one of the reasons why you bring a player on a visit, to have those conversations,” O’Connell said, referring to asking Risner about his comfort in playing the right guard spot. “We feel very comfortable about his answer to that question and would put that plan into place as far as his competition to try and earn a significant role on our team.”
Vikings Running Game in Need of Boost From Risner
While how much Kirk Cousins was hit has been a hot topic of conversation, Risner’s arrival could bring more boon to the Vikings’ running game.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert found that Minnesota’s offensive front hasn’t created much room for Alexander Mattison to maneuver. He’s averaged 0.95 yards before contact, well below the league average.
“For those of you interested in objectively analyzing Alexander Mattison’s first 2 games as the Vikings’ starter: You should know he is averaging 0.95 yards before contact on hsi 19 carries. That’s No. 43 in NFL. League average is 2.17 YBC. Not a lot of daylight,” Seifert posted on X (formerly Twitter).