NFL free agency unofficially kicked off at 11 a.m. CDT this morning when the window for teams to negotiate with free agents from other teams opened. Technically, players can’t agree to deals until the start of the league year at 3 p.m. CDT on Tuesday. But if you watched in past years when Adam Schefter would go on ESPN at 3:01 p.m. on the first day of free agency and read off a list of like 50 free agents and where they are signing, you know that teams skirt the rules a little bit there.
Anyway, the Vikings aren’t expected to be big spenders in free agency, but they have already started reaching out to lower-tier free agents about possibly coming to Minnesota.
One of them is defensive end Adrian Clayborn, a former first-round pick of the Buccaneers. I pegged Clayborn as a potential fit for the Vikings in Friday’s paper because they could use more depth at defensive end, and with Brian Robison not getting any younger, Clayborn in theory could lessen the burden as a rotational player and possibly even replace Robison at some point.
Clayborn, who was listed at 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, only played one game in 2014 due to a torn biceps. Overall, the 26-year-old played and started 36 games in four seasons with the Buccaneers. He had a modest 13 sacks over that span, but he is a pretty stout run defender.
The Vikings also have interest in journeyman defensive end George Selvie and former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, according to ESPN.
The Vikings, who are trading backup Matt Cassel to the Bills next week, have also inquired about veteran quarterback Shaun Hill, and a league source said that the interest is mutual. If the Vikings were to sign the 35-year-old to back up Teddy Bridgewater, his career would come full circle.
Hill started his NFL career in 2002 as an undrafted free agent with the Vikings. He has since had a nice career, mostly as a backup, and has ties to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. In 2014, Hill started eight games for the Rams, including the season opener against the Vikings, and went 3-5.
Remember, this doesn’t mean the Vikings will sign either. They will be linked to a bunch of free agents in the coming days, especially with agents looking to drum up interest for their clients.
As for the Vikings’ pending unrestricted free agents — guys like defensive tackle Tom Johnson, guard Joe Berger and middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley — it looks as if most, if not all of them, will be allowed to reach the open market. Things could change between now and Tuesday, though.