Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings roster analysis: Defensive line

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: February 17, 2014 - 8:35 AM

We'll take a daily look at where the Vikings' roster stands at the moment position-by-position leading up to our NFL Combine coverage next week.

Position: Defensive line

On the roster: Brian Robison, Chase Baker, Letroy Guion, Sharrif Floyd, Kheeston Randall

Free agents: Jared Allen, Fred Evans, Kevin Williams, Everson Griffen, Justin Trattou

Outside of quarterback, the defensive line is the weakest unit on the team this offseason. Brian Robison is the only returning starter from last year with Jared Allen, Fred Evans and Kevin Williams all unrestricted free agents.

While Allen and Robison each had solid sack totals (Allen finished with 11.5 and Robison with 9.5), it was an average season for the unit. The defensive line lacked a consistent pass rush, which didn’t help a young secondary that finished 31st in pass defense allowing 397.8 yards per game.

The run coverage was better but still average compared to the rest of the league. The Vikings finished 16th allowing 110.4 yards a game.

Allen and Williams will turn 32 and 34 by the start of next season. It’d be best if the franchise parted with both players and looked for upgrades either in free agency or the draft. Barring any setback, it’d make sense for defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd to take one of the two vacant starting defensive tackle spots next season.

Griffen on the other hand would be worth to pursue in free agency. The franchise tag period began on Monday and will be open for the next two weeks. It’s hard to see the Vikings use their franchise tag this offseason, but Griffen would make the strongest case out of the team’s free agents. He would receive $12.6 million next season however if the team did tag him, which would be the second most for any franchise tag position.

Quarterback: $16.2 million

Defensive end: $12.6 million

Wide receiver: $11.6 million

Cornerback: $11.3 million

Offensive lineman: $11.2 million

Linebacker: $11 million

Defensive tackle: $9.2 million

Running back: $9.1 million

Safety: $8.1 million

Tight end: $6.8 million

Kicker/Punter: $3.4 million

There aren’t many pass rushers in free agency and the draft, while the demand is high. Griffen, 26, spent the last four years as a backup to Allen and Robison and made just one start in four seasons. He has played in every game for the last three seasons and can be used anywhere on the defensive line.

He wants to return but will likely draw the most interest of the Vikings' free agents this offseason.

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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