Vikings Sign Pair of Familiar Linebackers Andrew Van Ginkel and Former Gopher Blake Cashman

Andrew Van Ginkel

One of the Minnesota Vikings’ top priorities in free agency has clearly been to address a pass rush that ranked 20th in the NFL in sacks per game last season. The first move was adding Jonathan Greenard, the new top sack artist in Minnesota, to a four-year, $76 million contract. Now, Andrew Van Ginkel joins Greenard on a two-year contract.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Van Ginkel’s contract will be worth up to $20 million, with $14M guaranteed.

Van Ginkel is a former fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft who played five seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Notably, this move reunites the 28-year-old edge rusher with Brian Flores, who was his head coach for the first three seasons of Van Ginkel’s career.

While he’s not a household name, the Rock Valley, Iowa native has gained respect for making a noticeable impact despite never playing in a featured role. His career-high in snap percentage came in 2021 at 71%, when he recorded 5.5 sacks. Then, in 2023, Van Ginkel reached a new career high with six sacks despite only playing 66% of his team’s defensive snaps.

In all, Van Ginkel has 17 sacks across his five-year career, which has included 42 starts in 73 appearances since 2019. While the raw stats may not jump off the page, the analytics tell a different story. Pro Football Focus had Van Ginkel as their 60th-best free agent after he ranked seventh among all edge rushers last season, recording an elite PFF grade of 91.1.

While Van Ginkel is best when pinning his ears back and chasing after quarterbacks, he’s also more versatile than your typical edge rusher in that he is also frequently asked to drop back into coverage too. Just last year, the Dolphins asked Van Ginkel to cover the slot for 56 snaps, and his 87.3 coverage grade indicates he handled himself quite well.

So, instead of having Van Ginkel rush the passer on each down, Coach Flores can now get a bit more creative while having confidence that his newest addition can do whatever is asked of him.

And the Vikings aren’t done filling holes in their defense, according to The Athletic’s Alec Lewis.

Blake Cashman Returns to Minnesota

Just minutes after the Van Ginkel news broke, reports surfaced of the Vikings signing former Gophers linebacker Blake Cashman too. Cashman is signing a three-year, $22.5 million contract, with $15M guaranteed.

The Eden Prairie native entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick by the New York Jets, but quickly had his career derailed by hamstring and groin injuries, limiting him to just ten games in his first three seasons.

Then, Cashman’s career took off after being traded to the Houston Texans in 2022. Suddenly, Cashman played in all 16 games, and became a full-time starter in 2023 once DeMeco Ryans took over the defense.

Houston’s patience with Cashman paid off in a big way, with the linebacker recording a career-high 106 tackles, two sacks, five pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. The 106 tackles led an 11th-ranked Texans defense last season despite him playing in just 13 out of a possible 17 games.

Despite being a bit undersized (6-foot-1, 237 pounds), Cashman has always been known as an athletic freak. At the NFL Combine, he clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.50 seconds. Analytics love the 27-year-old’s game, too.

Cashman recorded an elite 83.7 PFF grade last season, including 84.7 as a run defender and a 75.4 coverage grade. Like Van Ginkel, he, too, is a player with a versatile skill set. Cashman is expected to fill the role left vacant by free agent Jordan Hicks and will likely start right next to Ivan Pace at middle linebacker.

Both Van Ginkel and Cashman were viewed as some of the most underrated free agents available, and now the Vikings have added both to the mix at a reasonable rate.

Related: 8 Free Agent QBs for Minnesota Vikings if Kirk Cousins Leaves, Ranked by Likelihood

Mentioned in this article:

More About: