At 5-7, and nearly three-quarters through the season, the Minnesota Vikings playoff chances look bleak. The play calling has been questionable and the defense has more holes than Augusta National. How did the Vikings get here? To answer that, some of the key free agent signings from the Vikings 2021 off-season are worth examining and grading.
Grading the Minnesota Vikings Off-Season Signings After Week 13
Patrick Peterson, CB – B
Peterson signed a one-year deal worth $10 million back in March. At the time, both Jeff Gladney and Mike Hughes were still on the roster, yet this seemed like a fairly smart signing. They brought in a veteran leader who can still play at a decent level. That all changed very quickly after Hughes’ trade and Gladney’s arrest. Peterson is now the guy. He has been the lone bright spot this year in a very weak cornerback room. Maybe he is still really good, or maybe Bashaud Breeland is just that bad (very likely), but he has proven he can still hang.
Dalvin Tomlinson, DT – C+
The second Dalvin to join the roster, Tomlinson agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $22 million. The big run-stuffer was brought in to play along side Michael Pierce and wreck havoc up front. This hasn’t really been the case as the Vikings rank 29th in run defense this year. However, due to injuries along the defensive line, Tomlinson has been asked to do a lot, and his very favorable 75.2 PFF grade suggests he’s been playing well. The full vision hasn’t been realized, though, and the Vikings are 1-4 and have allowed an average of 128 rushing yards in games when Pierce and Tomlinson have both played.
Bashaud Breeland, CB – D
Breeland signed a very team friendly one-year, $4 million dollar deal. Despite his low cost, it’s hard to see how this signing has provided much value to the team. Consistently rated as one of the bottom corners in the league by PFF, he has struggled mightily. Superstar receivers, like Josh Reynolds and Rashard Higgins, have beaten him throughout the year. With Cam Dantzler seemingly still in Mike Zimmer’s doghouse, Breeland looks to be the guy to close out the season.
Xavier Woods, S – B
Brought in on a one-year deal worth up to $2.25 million, Woods has more than outplayed his small contract. He has done well in an otherwise unimpressive secondary. Although his name does not come up often as a defensive playmaker, he has two forced fumbles and two interceptions on the year. But he is not out of the woods yet. He will need to finish the season strong to prove he deserves a second contract.
All in all, the Vikings signings during the off-season were mostly solid. There certainly is room for improvement, but they did not exactly have carte blanche to sign whoever they wanted either. 2021 has been a lot of things: good, bad and more bad. Maybe two games versus Chicago are what this team needs to turn it all around. Then again, the Vikings have had opportunities this season, only to fall flat.