Minnesota Vikings Could Rob Packers of Pro Bowl Starter Next Offseason

Minnesota Vikings, Kenny Clark
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Aside from the Minnesota Vikings winning their own games, nothing makes Sundays better than a Green Bay Packers lose. And sometimes, we get both. And when it’s the Vikings directly defeating the Packers, well that’s bliss, right there.

We aren’t just talking on-field games here, either. This border rivalry has no offseason. The Vikings like to poach Lambeau Field fan favorites, when a good opportunity presents itself. Off the top of my head, I can think of Brett Favre (one team removed), Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, Greg Jennings, Za’Darius Smith, and most recently, Aaron Jones.

Robbing a division rival to make your team stronger? Sign me up for that roster building strategy. The 2024 NFL season is still months out but one glaring Minnesota Vikings roster weakness the interior defensive line. Harrison Phillips does as best as he can, but he’s not a pile-pusher capable of blowing up the play at a moment’s notice.

Packers’ Pro Bowl DT Kenny Clark could be on Minnesota Vikings’ radar

In fact, as The Athletic’s Alec Lewis recently pointed out in his latest Vikings mailbag, Phillips and Jonathan Bullard ranked 176th and 185th among the 187 interior defenders who rushed the passer at least 200 times last season. My math may not be super advanced, but even I can tell you, that’s not good.

Incomer Jerry Tillery ranked 88th, so it’s nice to see some improvement, but do they have any other plans? Well, they have cap space but there aren’t a lot of good options out there. And from the sounds of it, finding a trade partner is going to be nearly impossible.

Which defensive tackles could be traded at this point? Would the Commanders move off Daron Payne or Jonathan Allen? Would the Packers part with Kenny Clark? And how willing would Adofo-Mensah be to part with additional draft capital before paying a player creeping toward age 30? There are not a ton of premium defensive tackles, which is why the Raiders paid Christian Wilkins what they did in free agency.

Alec Lewis on Minnesota Vikings’ potential interest in Kenny Clark

Which is why Kwesi Adofo-Mensah might have to wait on getting a significant improvement along the defensive line. Because, if he does, the future looks kind of bright. Even after Justin Jefferson’s record-breaking contract extension, the Vikings have a very clear cap sheet next season and beyond.

Related: Minnesota Vikings Urged to Sign Former Pro Bowl WR

Other extensions for stars, such as Christian Darrisaw, will eat up some space. But that’s nothing. In the grand scheme, Minnesota is projected to have loads of cap space to be aggressive in free agency, if they wish. And we can just about guarantee one spot they will wish to upgrade is interior defensive line.

One potential option that could emerge next season, as pointed out by Lewis, is to poach three-time Pro Bowl DT Kenny Clark from the Packers. Clark, 28, is set for free agency after this season, and the Packers may have bigger priorities, such as paying Jordan Love.

Here was Lewis’s take when asked which big-name free agents the Vikings could have at the top of their list next offseason.

Which potential free agent next March will be the No. 1 target? — Mark C.

Two names: Kenny Clark and D.J. Reed. The Vikings will likely peruse the market for defensive tackles and cornerbacks next year and these two might be the best available at their positions.

But there are other possibilities, too. How about 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward, Patriots defensive tackle Davon Godchaux or Eagles edge rusher Josh Sweat? These aren’t A-level names and they’re all nearing 30, but this is the aisle you’re shopping in on the open market.

Alec Lewis on Minnesota Vikings’ potential interest in Kenny Clark

Clark is set to play out the season with a $15.5 million salary, and he’d likely be in line to receive a rate similar to that next offseason too, as long as his play doesn’t suddenly drop off. Yet, he’s coming off arguably one of the best seasons of his eight-year career, recording 7.5 sacks to go with 9 TFL and 16 QB hits, all personal bests.

He’s not on the same level as say, an Aaron Donald or Dexter Lawrence as an interior pass-rusher, but Clark is in the very next tier, hence his three Pro Bowl selections. Clark has started 109 out of the 123 games he’s played in, and he’s never missed more than three games in a season, showing his durability over a long period of time.

Related: Do the Minnesota Vikings Have a QB Competition?

If the Vikings really could woo Clark to Minnesota, it would be a huge signing, not only because it hurts the Packers, but also because it solves one of the team’s most pressing needs. Otherwise, we’re likely looking at investing a first-round selection in the trenches, which is fine too, but that’s always a gamble. Clark is a sure thing.

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