August 18, 2022
The Vikings have a glaring lack of depth in the pass rush that would be addressed with a proposed trade by Bleacher Report.

The Minnesota Vikings defense has been without a Pro Bowl pass rusher the past two seasons — and it’s shown.

The Vikings’ pass-rush win rate ranked 29th in 2021 and 30th in 2020, per ESPN, with
Danielle Hunter missing 26 of Minnesota’s last 33 games.

Huner will look to restore his reputation as one of the league’s elite pass rushers alongside two-time Green Bay Packers Pro Bowler Za’Darius Smith, who signed a three-year deal with the Vikings this offseason.

But both starting edge rushers are coming off seasons foiled injuries. Hunter missed the 2020 season with a neck injury and suffered a season-ending torn pectoral injury in Week 7 last season. Smith played just 18 snaps in Week 1 before suffering a back injury that he did not return from until the postseason.

Beyond the starting duo, there’s little NFL experience, either.

Third-year edge rusher D.J. Wonnum is the only other outside linebacker who has any playing experience. Patrick Jones II, Zach McCloud, Andre Mintze, Janarius Robinson and Luiji Vilain have yet to play a single NFL snap.

Bleacher Report rightfully suggested the Vikings make a trade for a depth piece to the pass rush that would also be a reunion for defensive coordinator Ed Donatell.

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BR: Broncos Send Vikings Malik Reed

Bleacher Report’s Brett Sobleski took inventory of a trade every NFL team should make before the start of the 2022 season.

Sobleski suggested that the Denver Broncos send third-year outside linebacker Malik Reed to Minnesota. Reed, formerly an undrafted rookie, rose to a starting role over the past two seasons (due to injuries and Von Miller‘s departure in Denver) serviceably, tallying a team-leading 13 sacks over the past two years.

However, Bradley Chubb is back from injury and the Broncos have reinforced their pass rush, signing former Dallas Cowboys edge rusher Randy Gregory and drafting second-round pick Nik Bonitto. Baron Browning, a 2021 third-round pick, is also switching from an off-ball backer to outside linebacker this season, potentially leaving Reed the odd man out.

“Despite his contributions over the last two seasons, Reed may be a man without a role in Denver this year,” Sobleski wrote. “Another option exists, however. Denver can flip Reed to Minnesota, where he’ll be reunited with defensive coordinator Ed Donatell after playing under his direction the last three seasons. More importantly, the 25-year-old provides much-needed depth behind Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith, both of whom have scary injuries histories.”

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Meet Malik Reed

Reed has already beaten the odds after going undrafted in 2018 out of Nevada. He’s played in 45 games and made 34 starts over the past three seasons, including eight starts as a rookie.

However, Reed has regressed in his career, partially due to being pushed into an edge role outside of where his physical tools would excel.

Among 43 pass rushers with at least 400 pass-rushing snaps, Reed posted the fewest pressures of that group, per Mile High Huddle.

“Reed’s play as a pass rusher is fine but is suited as that No. 3 or 4 edge rusher, and you don’t want him in a starting role. While he has 17 career sacks, according to PFF, the majority of them would fall into either coverage sacks or clean-up category,” Mile High Huddle’s Erick Trickel wrote. “Additionally, Reed had the second-lowest pass-rush productivity and third-lowest pass-rush win rate. He’s a pass rusher that struggles to get after the quarterback with any sense of urgency. Yet, that’s how he is supposed to make up for his less-than-ideal run defense.”

But Reed ranking among the league’s worst starters isn’t unexpected for a former undrafted rookie. Undersized as a 3-4 outside linebacker at 6-foot-2, Reed has the athleticism of a base linebacker that has potential as a sub-rusher inside — much like the role Smith relished in his time in Green Bay.

Reed’s experience is also invaluable and worthy of a trade conversation involving a late-round pick. Reed would count for $2.4 million against the Vikings’ cap, per Over the Cap.

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