Free agency is just six weeks away, and the NFL’s round-robin of player movement will be as frantic as ever. Twenty prominent quarterbacks could realistically switch home addresses while oodles of position players will be coveted by NFL general managers.
Two men stand off the page for ESPN as the media entity dropped its Top 50 free agents of 2023 list this week.
Vikings Have 2 Free Agents in ESPN’s Top 50
These are those two men.
Free Agent Rank of 50: No. 30
No Vikings defender from the 2022 roster was more consistent than Tomlinson. He’s a lunchpail guy who never struggles and is always the same guy.
ESPN’s Matt Bowen wrote about Tomlinson, “Tomlinson is a 325-pound nose guard who can play in 30 or 40 fronts. He can clog up running lanes with his size and strength while using his lateral quickness to engulf ball carriers.”
“With 13 sacks over six seasons, Tomlinson isn’t going to bring high-end pass-rush production, but he will demand double-teams and provide an interior push to take away quarterbacks’ throwing platforms,” explained Bowen.
Tomlinson tallied 42 total tackles, 10 QB hits, 3 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and a 77.1 PFF grade in 2022. His only downfall this season was missing four games to injury.
He’ll probably nab about $10 million per season from a team DT-needy team in 2023. The Vikings are on the hook for $7 million of Tomlinson’s 2023 dead cap, so they might want to retain him.
ESPN said in its free-agent article that Tomlinson would turn 26 next season, but that is false. He’ll be 29.
Pro Football Focus believes Tomlinson could join the Chicago Bears, the Vikings secondary rival.
Free Agent Rank of 50: No. 48
Peterson has claimed multiple times he wants to remain with the Vikings, so his inclusion on ESPN’s Top 50 ledger could be moot. The Vikings defender mentioned on the same All Things Covered show a couple of weeks ago, “I would love to be there in that purple and gold again and give it a run again just because I love the community there. I love the organization. I love the new regime that [was] brought into that building, the trainers, the strength and conditioning staff. It’s just amazing. I truly believe it felt like home for me. I felt like it was a place that I belonged. But we all know it’s a business.”
So, we shall see if Minnesota’s front office agrees. Meanwhile, Bowen opined about Peterson’s free agency, “Peterson’s speed has declined at this stage of his career, but he’s s savvy and experienced technician with the high-level ability to identify route concepts.”
“He had five interceptions and 15 pass breakups in 2022, allowing quarterbacks to complete just 57% of their passes when targeting him as the nearest defender in coverage, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The three-time first-team All-Pro is still a good player,” Bowen added.
Peterson joined the Vikings during 2021’s free agency period — seemingly out of nowhere — and has stabilized Minnesota’s CB room since. Next to an assortment of players like Mackensie Alexander, Cameron Dantzler, Bashaud Breeland, Akayleb Evans, Duke Shelley, etc., Peterson has been the anchor among Vikings corners.
He fired up an incredible 2022 regular season, ranking as the league’s ninth-best cornerback, according to PFF. The 32-year-old turned back the clock to 2018 or so, grading an impressive 80.7 from PFF. He’s been phenomenal, impacting a defense that needs all the bright spots it can get.
Peterson is mentioned all over the place in similar ‘top free agent’ lists, including NFL.com’s Top 2023 free agents list and one from Bleacher Report.
These are the Vikings other 16 free agents:
- Kris Boyd (CB)
- Garrett Bradbury (C)
- Blake Brandel (OT)
- Jonathan Bullard (DL)
- Andrew DePaola (LS)
- Ben Ellefson (TE)
- Bisi Johnson (WR)
- Greg Joseph (K)
- Alexander Mattison (RB)
- Nick Mullens (QB)
- Austin Schlottman (C)
- Duke Shelley (CB)
- Irv Smith (TE)
- Khyiris Tonga (NT)
- Chandon Sullivan (CB)
- Oli Udoh (OT)
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).
All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.