Even after signing Linval Joseph on Day 1 of 2014 NFL Free Agency, the Minnesota Vikings aren’t done revamping their defensive line.
According to reports from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Vikings will host defensive tackle Henry Melton, formerly of the Chicago Bears, on Thursday. The 2012 Pro Bowler was originally expected to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, but appears to have turned his attention to a team with some significant cap space.
Despite the fact that he’s coming off a 2013 ACL tear, Melton is easily one of the top defensive lineman available this offseason. More of a hybrid defensive lineman who can line up outside or at the three-technique, Melton excels at getting to the quarterback. In 2012, he racked up eight sacks from the inside and showed capable run defense as well.
While their interest in Melton is intriguing, this move by the Vikings means more for Sharrif Floyd. The 2013 first-round pick was expected to take over as the starting three-technique after the departure of Kevin Williams. If Melton were to sign with Minnesota, though, he’d likely slide in as the starter while Floyd served in a rotational role.
Does the Vikings’ coaching staff have concerns about Floyd, or are they trying to follow the Seattle Seahawks’ strategy of having a plethora of defensive line talent?
Seeing as he’s coming off a serious knee injury, Melton could come at a bargain price for the Vikings. They have plenty of cap room to work with anyways, but might be able to get a huge value deal if Melton carries reasonable expectations.
The other thing leaning in the Vikings’ favor is the presence of new head coach Mike Zimmer, who works magic with young, talented defensive linemen. He turned Geno Atkins, an “undersized” defensive tackle, into a stud. Maybe Melton will be hoping for similar success under Zimmer.
All in all, it’s an ideal situation for the Vikings. Even if they are confident in Floyd’s future, depth along the defensive line is crucial to being competitive. If Melton comes with a reasonable price tag, you have to believe that GM Rick Spielman will pull the trigger on this deal.