The Minnesota Vikings helped themselves by signing Dalvin Tomlinson, but they also gave the rival Packers a pretty big ‘L.’
The Minnesota Vikings joined the free agency party late Monday night, agreeing to a reported two-year, $22 million deal with defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. He’ll now join Michael Pierce, a free agent signing last year who opted out of the 2020 season, to help a Minnesota run defense that was 27th in the league last year (134.4 yards per game).
The Green Bay Packers finished 13th in the league against the run last year, but they also allowed 4.5 yards per carry. So they naturally made an effort to fortify their run defense at the trade deadline. Tomlinson, then with the New York Giants of course, was a trade target.
The Vikings signing Dalvin Tomlinson gave the Packers a big ‘L’
Tomlinson has been graded by Pro Football Focus as a top 25 defensive tackle in each of the last four years, with a peak of 10th in 2018 and a ranking of 20th last year. As shown by NextGen Stats, his strength fits the Vikings’ biggest weakness against the run. He’s also not strictly a nose tackle, having played a lot of 3-technique with the Giants.
As long as defensive end Danielle Hunter is back healthy and performing as he can in 2021, which is a growing question as he may be ready to demand a trade, the Vikings’ don’t necessarily need a dynamic pass rusher on the interior. Tomlinson has just eight career sacks, but he does have 19 quarterback hits over the last two seasons. So to call him strictly a run stuffer feels short-sighted.
With holes to fill along the offensive line, including one they created at left tackle by cutting Riley Reiff, the wisdom of devoting more resources to the defensive tackle position can be questioned. But the Vikings also gave their chief divisional rival a pretty big ‘L’ by signing Tomlinson, which counts for something.