The Minnesota Vikings have been busy this offseason. They rebuilt their defensive line in free agency, signing Stephen Weatherly, Dalvin Tomlinson and Sheldon Richardson. They also added Patrick Jones ll and Janarius Robinson via the 2021 NFL draft.
The team will also have Danielle Hunter back this year after his 2020 campaign was cut short due to a herniated disc. Michael Pierce also intends on playing after opting out last season due to COVID-19 concerns.
After all these roster moves and the return of a couple of key players, why would the Minnesota Vikings be interested in DE Derek Barnett?
Three reasons the Minnesota Vikings should acquire DE Derek Barnett
#1 - Few true pass rushers on the roster
The Vikings may have added several new pieces to the D-line, but there is still a need for legit edge rushers. Pierce, Tomlinson and Richardson are better suited at defensive tackle and being big bodies upfront. Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum are entering camp as the default starters at defensive end. Patrick Jones will likely be a strong edge rusher shortly.
Derek Barnett is an all-around pass-rusher who the team could pair with Hunter as a starter. Wonnum and Jones would then serve as stellar backups and could rotate in and out to keep fresh legs on the field. Barnett had 6.5 sacks in 2019 and 5.5 in 2020. Overall, the former first-round pick has 19.5 sacks in four seasons (42nd among edge rushers since 2017).
With Everson Griffen leaving the franchise, Minnesota could easily pursue Derek Barnett and plug him into their lineup immediately. He had more sacks in 2020 than any other player currently on the Vikings roster.
#2 - Derek Barnett is a talented player who the Vikings can get for a good deal
Since entering the league in 2017, Barnett has suffered injuries and missed several games every season. During his rookie season, he played with a sports hernia. He missed 10 games in 2018 with a shoulder injury, two games in 2019 with an ankle injury and three games last year with a knee issue.
The Philadelphia Eagles picked up his fifth-year option worth a $10 million salary, making him the 16th-highest-paid edge rusher for 2021. They could release him, but they won't gain anything in return.
They could trade him, but only a few teams can afford his $10 million salary. If Derek Barnett was to land on the open market, he could fetch up to $7.5 million/year. Minnesota has around $13 million in cap space and could take on Barnett's $10 million and sign him to a long-term deal that is more affordable.
If Barnett can stay healthy, he could finally reach double-digit sacks and the Vikings would win the trade by a landslide.
#3 - Derek Barnett can be a future star for the Minnesota Vikings
Stephen Weatherly, D.J. Wonnum and Janarius Robinson aren't locked in as starters or even to make the final roster. Both Derek Barnett and Danielle Hunter are 25 and could be major players for years to come.
But why won't the Eagles keep Derek Barnett? Brandon Graham is more productive and durable than him. Josh Sweat is still on his cheap rookie deal and had four sacks in 2020 (two fewer than Barnett but in 500 fewer snaps). The Eagles may be ready to move on from Barnett, but that doesn't mean he still can't turn his career around and have a successful career.