Put succinctly, defensive end might be the Vikings' position of least need, despite losing Ray Edwards in free agency last year.
The team accounted nicely for Edwards' loss before it ever officially happened, signing his backup at the time, Brian Robison, to a three-year $14.1 million deal – most of which he will see after reaching playing-time and performance clauses that kicked in the meat of his contract.
Opposite Robison, of course, is the league's sacks leader from 2011, Jared Allen. To top it off, perhaps the Vikings' most talented backup anywhere is Everson Griffen, who can play anything between defensive tackle and linebacker, with his strength and natural position being defensive end.
Mario Williams – The biggest name and a former No. 1 overall pick, when the Texans elected not to use the franchise tag on Williams, it opened him up to prepare for a heavy courting by several NFL teams. Already, numerous teams are said to be interested and free agency hasn't even started. Back up the money truck, despite the fact that he has never had more than 14 sacks in a single season. He had five sacks in five games last year after injuring his pectoral muscle.
Jeremy Mincey – Mincey broke out for eight sacks and 57 tackles last year for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but after five years in the league, it was his first season as a full-time starter. The Jaguars are hoping to lock him up before free agency starts on Tuesday, but that hasn't happened yet. With the top-end free-agent defensive ends much more experienced, teams may be willing to take a chance on a younger talent.
Andre Carter – Eleven seasons in the NFL isn't stopping Carter. He registered his fourth season with double-digit sacks and his second in three years. He needed only one season with the New England Patriots to know he wants to return there. Whether that becomes a reality before free agency opens on Tuesday remains to be seen.
Mark Anderson – In his first season in the NFL in 2006, Anderson lit it up with the Chicago Bears, getting 12 sacks despite starting only one game. The next year, the Bears tried him as their starter and he produced a disappointing five sacks and fizzled out even more in the ensuing seasons. It wasn't until he signed with the New England Patriots after the lockout ended that he returned to a productive, double-digit sack season in 2011. He only started one game, but once again that limited role served him well. Now he and the starter in front of him, Andre Carter, are both free agents. Anderson would like to re-sign with the Patriots.
OTHER FREE-AGENT DEs
Other DE possibilities in free agency: Michael Bennett, John Abraham, Matt Roth, Israel Idonije, Jonathan Fanene, Frostee Rucker, Williams Hayes, Wallace Gilberry, Trevor Scott, Antwan Applewhite, Jarvis Moss, Dave Ball, Raheem Brock, Quentin Groves, Marcus Bernard, Juqua Parker, Bryan Thomas, Jamaal Anderson, Tyler Brayton, Turk McBride, Jason Hunter, Derrick Harvey, Dave Tollefson, Tim Bulman, Jimmy Wilkerson, Victor Abiamiri.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Free-agent exam: Vikings vs. the DEs
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