Free-agent exam: Vikings vs. the DTs

The Vikings have two backup defensive tackles scheduled for free agency and didn't get the desired production out of Remi Ayodele. It could be a position they look to fix in free agency; we examine some of the top considerations.

PURPLE REVIEW

The Vikings shouldn't have a need at defensive tackle, but they do.

Kevin Williams, despite coming on strong at the end of the 2011 season, won't last forever. He was suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season and then struggled for much of the first half of the season with plantar fasciitis and other nagging injuries.

Still, Williams insists that he's not looking at retirement any time soon.

"I don't know. I won't put a number on it. I'm just going to play as hard as I can for the next couple of years and let it happen," he said in January.

"I'm still going to play at a high level. I think five sacks in seven games shows that. If you can get it rolling all year, I think, heck, I might have had 10 sacks."

But Williams isn't the biggest issue for the Vikings at defensive tackle. Remi Ayodele was signed to be the replacement for longtime nose tackle Pat Williams and didn't play to his $1.87 million cap number, which increases to $3.438 million in 2012 and goes higher again in 2013.

While Ayodele was signed as if would be a full-time starter, he played in only 23.57 percent of the defensive snaps, a percent nearly equaled by rookie Christian Ballard. Letroy Guion played in 45.35 percent of the defensive snaps and Fred Evans 27.51 percent, and now both of them are scheduled for free agency, too.

The rotation of defensive tackles next to Williams, who still played in 77 percent of the defensive snaps despite his suspension and injuries, shows there is no clear-cut favorite to assume the starting role next to him. Free agency provides some enticing options if the price is right.

FREE AGENT PREVIEW

Red Bryant – In his fourth season with the Seattle Seahawks, Bryant finally became a full-time starter that lasted the entire season and he performed well as the 323-pound anchor in the middle of the Seahawks defensive line. Bryant will likely be out of the Vikings' price range, as he was a consideration for the franchise tag, which the Seahawks decided against because it would have cost them more than $10 million.

Paul Soliai – After spending the past two seasons as a starter with the Miami Dolphins, Soliai is considered one of the top free-agent defensive tackles on the market, maybe one of the top defenders available. Soliai is most useful in a 3-4 defensive scheme, meaning the Vikings likely wouldn't even pursue him, but at 355 pounds he has shown his value to the Dolphins of late.

Pouha Sione – Sione spent the first seven years of his NFL career with the New York Jets and proved he is an effective starter over the last three years in Rex Ryan's system. He has had finger, knee, ankle and back injuries over the last two seasons, but he is still a priority re-signing for the Jets. It just hasn't happened yet for the 325-pounder.

Brodrick Bunkley – If the Vikings do make a play for a surefire starting defensive tackle in free agency, Bunkley is one of those that impressed them. The six-year veteran of the NFL has been a starter since his second season in Philadelphia. He has 65 starts over those six seasons, including 13 last year with the Denver Broncos after being traded from the Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to that trade, he refused to report to the Cleveland Browns after they tried to acquire him in a trade.

OTHER FREE-AGENT DTs TO CONSIDER

Other free-agent defensive tackles: Jason Jones, Cory Redding, Kendall Langford, Sammie Lee Hill, Derek Landri, Antonio Garay, Antonio Dixon, Amobi Okoye, Marcus Thomas, Desmond Bryant, Kelly Gregg, Gerard Warren, Letroy Guion, Shaun Rogers, Adam Carriker, Philip Merling, Aubrayo Franklin, Vance Walker, Amon Gordon, Ryan McBean, Tony Hargrove, Tommie Harris, C.J. Mosley, Rocky Bernard, Leger Douzable, Kedric Golston, Gary Gibson, Eric Foster and Brandon McKinney.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" The Vikings shouldn't have a need at defensive tackle, but they do. Kevin Williams, despite coming on strong at the end of the 2011 season, won't last forever. He was suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season and then struggled for much of the first half of the season with plantar fasciitis and other nagging injuries. Still, Williams insists that he's not looking at retirement any time soon. \"I don't know. I won't put a number on it. I'm just going to play as hard as I can for the next couple of years and let it happen,\" he said in January. \"I'm still going to play at a high level. I think five sacks in seven games shows that. If you can get it rolling all year, I think, heck, I might have had 10 sacks.\" But Williams isn't the biggest issue for the Vikings at defensive tackle. Remi Ayodele was signed to be the replacement for longtime nose tackle Pat Williams and didn't play to his $1.87 million cap number, which increases to $3.438 million in 2012 and goes higher again in 2013. While Ayodele was signed as if would be a full-time starter, he played in only 23.57 percent of the defensive snaps, a percent nearly equaled by rookie Christian Ballard. Letroy Guion played in 45.35 percent of the defensive snaps and Fred Evans 27.51 percent, and now both of them are scheduled for free agency, too. The rotation of defensive tackles next to Williams, who still played in 77 percent of the defensive snaps despite his suspension and injuries, shows there is no clear-cut favorite to assume the starting role next to him. Free agency provides some enticing options if the price is right. Red Bryant – In his fourth season with the Seattle Seahawks, Bryant finally became a full-time starter that lasted the entire season and he performed well as the 323-pound anchor in the middle of the Seahawks defensive line. Bryant will likely be out of the Vikings' price range, as he was a consideration for the franchise tag, which the Seahawks decided against because it would have cost them more than $10 million. Paul Soliai – After spending the past two seasons as a starter with the Miami Dolphins, Soliai is considered one of the top free-agent defensive tackles on the market, maybe one of the top defenders available. Soliai is most useful in a 3-4 defensive scheme, meaning the Vikings likely wouldn't even pursue him, but at 355 pounds he has shown his value to the Dolphins of late. Pouha Sione – Sione spent the first seven years of his NFL career with the New York Jets and proved he is an effective starter over the last three years in Rex Ryan's system. He has had finger, knee, ankle and back injuries over the last two seasons, but he is still a priority re-signing for the Jets. It just hasn't happened yet for the 325-pounder. Brodrick Bunkley – If the Vikings do make a play for a surefire starting defensive tackle in free agency, Bunkley is one of those that impressed them. The six-year veteran of the NFL has been a starter since his second season in Philadelphia. He has 65 starts over those six seasons, including 13 last year with the Denver Broncos after being traded from the Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to that trade, he refused to report to the Cleveland Browns after they tried to acquire him in a trade. Other free-agent defensive tackles: Jason Jones, Cory Redding, Kendall Langford, Sammie Lee Hill, Derek Landri, Antonio Garay, Antonio Dixon, Amobi Okoye, Marcus Thomas, Desmond Bryant, Kelly Gregg, Gerard Warren, Letroy Guion, Shaun Rogers, Adam Carriker, Philip Merling, Aubrayo Franklin, Vance Walker, Amon Gordon, Ryan McBean, Tony Hargrove, Tommie Harris, C.J. Mosley, Rocky Bernard, Leger Douzable, Kedric Golston, Gary Gibson, Eric Foster and Brandon McKinney. 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