The Minnesota Vikings decided to release Eric Kendricks leading up to free agency after eight years with the club. A week later, it was reported that Jordan Hicks would stay with the team after taking a pay cut. He is now projected to be the starter next to 2022 rookie Brian Asamoah.
However, the Vikings and defensive coordinator Brian Flores could still be in the market to add another linebacker to the room to compete for the starting job. Many players are still available in free agency, and the Vikings don’t even have to spend much.
Duo of Free Agent LBs Has a Connection to Vikings DC
Brian Flores worked for three organizations in the last few years and coached two linebackers who are interesting for the Vikings because of that connection.
Kyle Van Noy
The linebacker will turn 32 on March 26, so he is not a long-term solution. However, he still has plenty left in the tank. Van Noy came into the league as a Lions second-round pick in the 2014 draft and played his first three seasons with Detroit in the NFC North.
During the 2016 season, the Patriots traded for Van Noy, and he had the best years of his career in New England’s defense. Van Noy started only seven games during his tenure in Detroit. He stayed in New England for the remainder of the 2016 campaign and the following three seasons and became a crucial part of some excellent Patriots defense led by head coach Bill Belichick.
Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores was the linebackers coach in New England and later accepted the head coaching position in Miami. Flores lured his old companion to the Dolphins one year later as a big free-agent signing. The team released him after just one season as a cap-saving move, and he returned to New England before he played the 2022 season with the Chargers.
In 128 regular season games, Van Noy recorded 33.5 sacks and 470 combined tackles. He also collected 47 tackles for loss, 63 QB hits, and three touchdowns through fumble recoveries and interceptions over the years. In addition to that, Van Noy has plenty of postseason experience and is a two-time Super Bowl champion.
Van Noy is a bigger linebacker, comparable to Anthony Barr or Jordan Hicks. The linebacker can wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage as a run-stopper and pass rusher but is not a great coverage player. His playing style is close to Hicks,’ but he seemed to have a little more left in the tank in the 2022 season. He could be a nice upgrade. Van Noy played in 2022 for only $2.25 million, so he could be a bargain signing.
The Pittsburgh Steelers announced the release of veteran linebacker Myles Jack on Thursday. He was a potential draft target of the Vikings in 2016 because of his connection to Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. The linebacker trio played together at UCLA. However, that was more of a fan dream than a likely scenario. The Vikings then proceeded to select Laquon Treadwell, a regrettable pick.
The 2016 second-rounder played his first six seasons in the NFL for the Jaguars, including on the 2017 elite defensive unit. Jack was released in March 2022 and signed with the Steelers a couple of days later, where he met, you guessed it, Flores.
Jack is an experienced linebacker, as he has started 95 games in the league so far, including 13 in 2022. He is still only 27 years old, and even if he had a down year in 2022, he should still have a couple of productive years left, especially in the right system.
The relationship with Flores should benefit him in that regard. It’s unlikely that the Vikings would have to break the bank for Jack. He could form a solid rotation with Hicks and Asamoah, depending on the game situation and the defensive package needed on a specific play. Flores wants to adapt his defensive game plan opponent-specific, and signing Jack would help him.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt
Leave a Reply