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Sketchy Rumor Links DT Geno Atkins to Vikings

Sketchy Rumor Links DT Geno Atkins to Vikings

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Around six months ago — when the Minnesota Vikings still considered Shamar Stephen as the solution to their three-technique depth chart spot — Geno Atkins’ free agency was supremely intriguing.

Now, though, the Vikings are stuffed to gills with 3DT depth with Dalvin Tomlinson starting and Sheldon Richardson slated as the 3DT2. On many teams, Richardson could and should start on defensive lines. Suddenly, Minnesota is deep for interior defensive linemen fortification.

But that doesn’t vanquish the rumor mill. An account known for tweeting gobs of rumors hinted Atkins is currently deciding between the Vikings and Seattle Seahawks for 2021 employment.

This account is tricky to adjudicate. They’re dedicated to rumors, so by default, much of the info will be rendered incorrect after the fact. Rumors, at heart, aren’t supposed to be true all of the time — they’re rumors.

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While ‘NFL Rumors’ is wrong a lot of the time, it does nail some of its forecasts. Here’s a recent one:

And this week, Wright indeed signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.

On Atkins, he tore his labrum in 2020, and the year became a forgettable one. The pandemic season marked the first time in the last eight seasons Atkins missed a single game. Ergo, outside of 2020, Atkins is an iron man.

When healthy, Atkins is also a beholder for upper-echelon performance. From 2013 to 2019, only Aaron Donald had more sacks as a defensive tackle than Atkins. Signing Atkins – a healthy version – can be perceived as an embarrassment of riches for the Vikings with Tomlinson and Richardson already vying for snaps.

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The alluring aspect of Atkins’ skill set is balance. When his labrum is good to go, he is equally as effective in rushing the passer as he is stopping the run. Normally, a defensive lineman does one trait or the other in a superior manner. Such is not usually the case for Atkins. He stops the run and stalks passers.

This is Atkins’ Pro Football Focus history:

  • 2010 = 80.5
  • 2011 = 82.2
  • 2012 = 93.9
  • 2013 = 78.8
  • 2014 = 72.2
  • 2015 = 91.6
  • 2016 = 87.0
  • 2017 = 90.7
  • 2018 = 81.8
  • 2019 = 76.2
  • 2020 = 54.0

In addition, Bill Barnwell of ESPN predicted — four months ago — Atkins would end up with the Vikings:

“You may see a theme of players reuniting with their former coaches in this piece. Atkins’ breakout years came when Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati, and the Vikings head coach could use some pass-rushing help in Minnesota. Atkins was anonymous last year as the Bengals reduced his role in the lineup, but the 33-year-old is only two seasons removed from a bo-sack campaign. Atkins would slot in as an interior rusher on passing downs as part of a rotation with run-stuffer Michael Pierce.”

Indeed, there is a default statute of limitations on predictions like this — Richardson was welcomed to the Vikings after the Barnwell piece — but at least Atkins-to-Minnesota isn’t completely off its rocker.

If you’re in the camp that would love to see Atkins reunite with head coach Mike Zimmer, two items aid the theory. The Vikings consider themselves contenders. At this stage of his career — Atkin is 33 years old — he probably wants to reach the playoffs, a tendency not commonplace in Cincinnati. The Vikings could reasonably provide that.

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Then, the Vikings have the cap space. Minnesota currently owns about $7 million in cap space to sign free agents.

The Vikings face Atkins’ former team, the Bengals, in nine days to open up the 2021 regular season.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday along with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).



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