Vikings Interested in DT Christian Wilkins, Among Other Top Defensive Free Agents

Christian Wilkins
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are starting the offseason in a similar manner to years past. Obviously, there are tons of their own free agents Kwesi Adofo-Mensah needs to negotiate with, but mostly, the Vikings need to patch up a defense that showed massive signs of growth but was still far too inconsistent to compete on a weekly basis and signing someone like Christian Wilkins could be a big help.

Just from looking at the talent on the defense, it’s clear more help is needed. But that’s what the offseason is for. Eventually, the Vikings will add contributors through the draft, but first up is spending big money in free agency.

Naturally, the top priorities revolve around retaining Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter. Eventually they’ll get an extension done with Justin Jefferson too, but that’s not as pressing, since he isn’t set to hit the open market when free agency begins in less than a week (March 13), like the other two.

Minnesota Vikings reportedly interested in Christian Wilkins

christian wilkins
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have found ways to carve out a bit of extra cap space when they really want a player. This has happened with T.J. Hockenson, Byron Murphy, and Marcus Davenport. In other words, if a player is on their radar, the Vikings won’t hesitate to get involved.

One of the biggest and best free agents available is Miami Dolphins star interior defensive lineman, Christian Wilkins. And now, Andrew Krammer (Star Tribune) believes the Vikings have Wilkins on their radar.

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is a name to watch when free agency begins next week as the Vikings seek to repair one of their most troublesome areas from last season.” 

Star Tribune

Christian Wilkins is a 6-foot-4, 310-pound monster who recorded nine sacks last season as a defensive tackle! That’s like Kevin Williams territory as far as his pass-rush ability. But he’s also one of the Dolphins’ best players.

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Would they really let him test the open market? So far, the answer appears to be yes, since Miami neglected to use the franchise tag on the 28-year-old. Wilkins is set to hit free agency, and Darren Wolfson (SKOR North) confirms the Vikings are interested.

“I’ve heard [the Vikings] attached to some of these bigger name defensive free agents. Like Christian Wilkins, there absolutely is interest. I’m telling you that right now. There is Vikings interest in Christian Wilkins. Now hey, my guess is there are about 10 teams interested in Christian, but certainly the Vikings are interested in Christian Wilkins.”

Darren Wolfson – Mackey & Judd (SKOR North)

Spotrac has Wilkins’ market value at an estimated $20.2 million per season. This is directly in line with the franchise tag for defensive tackles ($22.1M). While some pundits would have you believe the Vikings don’t have any spending space, that just isn’t true.

In fact, the Vikings project to have well over $100 million in cap space by 2025, even after they give Justin Jefferson a record-setting raise. That flexibility would allow general manager Kwesi-Adofo Mensah to do pretty much whatever he wants this offseason, as long as he deals in multi-year contracts that push necessary salary cap hits out beyond 2024.

Wilkins makes a ton of sense for Vikings

For the Vikings, chasing after Wilkins makes a lot of sense. Not only do they have an urgent need along the defensive line, they also have the benefit of Brian Flores, who as mentioned, was the Dolphins’ head coach when Miami drafted Wilkins 13th overall in 2019.

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Flores coached Wilkins for three seasons in Miami, but now the defensive lineman is set for unrestricted free agency, and the Dolphins are starting the offseason $15 million OVER the 2024 salary cap, meaning they’re in more trouble than the Vikings are.

Krammer’s report echoes what other Vikings insiders have indicated, including Alec Lewis (The Athletic) on an appearance Wednesday with Paul Allen on KFAN Radio, in which he made it very clear that Minnesota’s front office is going big-game hunting on the defensive side of the ball, when the “legal tampering period” begins on Monday.

Previously linked to L’Jarius Sneed, the Vikings may have plenty of tough contract decisions of their own to make, but it’s also clear this front office is sending out a lot of big name feelers on defense, as they look to rebuild that Brian Flores’ crew.

Other players Krammer mentions as free agents to watch for the Vikings include Chris Jones, D.J. Reader, Javon Kinlaw, A’Shawn Robinson, and Shelby Harris. Basically, tons of defensive tackles. Jones is likely too expensive, and supposedly eyeing a return to Kansas City. But Kinlaw and Robinson both have ties to the Vikings.

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Kinlaw’s connection comes from San Francisco, where Adofo-Mensah spent seven seasons, though they all came before Kinlaw’s arrival in 2019. Robinson was in Los Angeles with Kevin O’Connell, along with recently hired defensive line coach Marcus Dixon.

While the Vikings are sure to have their eye on several other free agents this offseason, upgrading the talent along the defensive line is a must. And Wilkins would surely do that.

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