The Minnesota Vikings are in the market to add a veteran edge rusher to the defense this offseason.
KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported that the Vikings are interested in longtime Washington edge rusher and four-time Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan after Washington has yet to re-sign him after 10 seasons with the franchise.
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Kerrigan Phased Out of New Regime in Washington
Kerrigan, a former No. 16 overall pick in 2011, is Washington’s all-time leader in sacks and ranks fifth among active NFL players with 95.5 career sacks — trailing only Von Miller (106.0), J.J. Watt (101.0), Justin Houston (97.5) and Chandler Jones (97.0). He’s been considered one of the most underappreciated edge rushers in the NFL after spending a decade of futility in a struggling Washington franchise.
The Purdue product was a routine starter from 2011 to 2019 before he was relegated to a reserve role in 2020 behind Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young and 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat. In the midst of a transition with Ron Rivera, Washington showed it was ready to move on from Kerrigan, who played just 38% of snaps in 2020.
Kerrigan, 32, still mustered 5.5 sacks last season and is adamant on remaining a starter in the NFL — be it with Washington or a new team for the first time in his career.
“I definitely feel like I still have a lot of ball in me, a lot of good productive years ahead of me,” Kerrigan said, per NBC Sports. “I definitely want to be a starter. I think any player would say that. I don’t think anybody wants to settle for being a role player.”
Kerrigan proved he’s still a capable edge rusher at the age of 30 when he tallied 13 sacks that helped secure his third consecutive Pro Bowl in 2018. He’s missed just four games in his career — which all came in 2019 after Kerrigan was placed on the injured reserve list with a calf injury.
Pro Football Focus named Kerrigan one of the top 100 free agents available this offseason and estimated he’d secure a one-year deal worth $5 million.
The Vikings currently have $4.83 million in cap space after they sign the rookie class, per Chris Tomasson. After June 1, Minnesota will have $7.6 million in cap space.
Vikings Have Depth at Defensive End
Minnesota has options at defensive end, but no surefire running mate opposite of Danielle Hunter.
The Vikings’ success on defense has greatly hinged on Hunter and Everson Griffen wreaking havoc in opposing backfields. The duo complemented each other and kept offensive line assignments honest.
Wolfson’s report reveals Minnesota may not be confident in handing starting reigns to its existing options in Stephen Weatherly, D.J. Wonnum, Jalyn Holmes, Kenny Willekes and rookies Patrick Jones II and Janarius Robinson. Most of the defensive end depth is developmental and, under defensive line guru Andre Patterson, the Vikings rarely fast track their plans for defensive ends. Hunter, the youngest player to reach 50 career sacks in NFL history, didn’t start until his third season.
A free-agent add like Kerrigan offers a respectable option that could reload the role Griffen once played as Hunter’s partner on the ends of the defensive front.