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Zulgad’s Roundup: Vikings targeting Ndamukong Suh, but does he want to play in Minnesota?

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jan 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Ndamukong Suh (93) walks onto the field before the game against the Los Angeles Rams during a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings remain interested in adding veteran depth at defensive tackle, and an interesting name emerged this week when it was reported the team was a potential suitor for three-time All-Pro selection Ndamukong Suh. Tyler Dragon of USA Today reported the Vikings had had multiple conversations with Suh, who also is being pursued by the Las Vegas Raiders after spending three years in Tampa Bay and winning a Super Bowl during the 2020 season.

Suh, 35, isn’t the player he was in 2010, when he was selected with the second pick in the draft by the Detroit Lions, but he has shown he can still contribute. Last season, he had six sacks, one fumble recovery and 27 tackles with the Buccaneers. Suh spent his first five seasons with the Lions before playing three years with Miami and one with the Rams. He signed one-year contracts with the Bucs each of the past three seasons and will enter 2022 with 70.5 career sacks.

The Vikings, who are shifting to a 3-4 base defense, already have starting defensive tackles in Dalvin Tomlinson and newcomer Harrison Phillips, but adding veteran depth would fit the plan of a team that hasn’t shown any interest in rebuilding under new general manager Kwesi-Adofo Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell. The team has $10.907 million in cap space remaining, so there is room to add a player such as Suh.

The Vikings could be an attractive landing spot for Suh, given that he would join a pass rush that includes outside linebackers Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith. One potential sticking point could be playing time. Suh’s deal, which almost certainly would be for one year, likely would be filled with playing-time and statistical incentives and he would want some assurances about how much he would be on the field.

Suh’s wife, Katya, is from Minneapolis, so he would be around family if he signed with the Vikings. But there also is a chance that as he nears the end of his career, Suh doesn’t want to join a Vikings team that many expect will be around .500.

The Raiders, like the Vikings, also have a new coach (Josh McDaniels) and they added former Packers star wide receiver Davante Adams in an offseason trade. Las Vegas went 10-7 in making the playoffs last season — the Vikings were 8-9 under the since-fired Mike Zimmer and missed the postseason for the second consecutive year — and the opportunity to play in Las Vegas is a selling point the Vikings don’t have.

If Suh does sign with the Raiders, the Vikings could look to bring back 33-year-old Linval Joseph or 31-year-old Sheldon Richardson, who had a second stop in Minnesota last season. Joseph was a force in the middle of the Vikings’ defensive line during his time with the team from 2014 to 2019 and most recently has been with the Los Angeles Chargers. Scoopmaster Darren “Doogie” Wolfson recently reported Joseph was working out in Eagan.

  • Mets manager Buck Showalter recently suggested the All-Star ballot have a category for a utility player that fans can vote on. Twins and infielder Luis Arraez likely would agree. Arraez was fourth among first baseman Tuesday when the first update on voting was provided. His 307,442 votes put him 639,609 votes behind the leader, Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., despite the fact Arraez leads the big leagues with a .362 average. With Jorge Polanco on the injured list, Arraez has moved back to his more natural position of second base. Many big-league fans probably had no clue Arraez was playing first base and weren’t about to vote for him over some of the big names at that position. It would make far more sense to create a utility category for guys like Arraez, who have the ability to move around and deserve more support in the voting.
  • Look for the Vikings to announce their training camp schedule next week. It will be the first camp under O’Connell, so there are likely to be changes from how Zimmer conducted things. O’Connell appears set on making sure he keeps his players fresh and healthy and the NFL rules on camp will help. The first three days don’t allow for contact. Helmets and light practice gear can be used during full-speed practices on Days 4 and 5. After a mandatory off day on Day 6, fully padded practices can start on the seventh day.
  • Recently hired Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly has plenty of experience running NBA drafts, having come from the Denver Nuggets. But Connelly, who will oversee the Wolves draft on Thursday, isn’t afraid to give an honest assessment of the process. “I was better nine, 10 years ago,” he said, according to a tweet from the Star Tribune’s Chris Hine. “Less information. Too much information now. We can tell if the guy liked blue or red in kindergarten and I don’t know if that helps you make a good selection. I think you got to go with your gut.”
  • Connelly could have been talking about the NFL draft. These teams now have so much information, and talk to so many players, coaches, etc., that they often fail to sort out what’s most important and get fixated on the minutiae.
  • Joe Ryan’s early-game struggles in the Twins’ 6-5, 11-inning loss to Cleveland on Tuesday at Target Field ended up showing the maturity of the 26-year-old righthander. Ryan gave up three runs on six hits in the first three innings, but was allowed to remain in the game and only surrendered one hit over the next three innings before departing. He threw 101 pitches in his second game back after coming off the COVID-19 list. Ryan’s calmness on the mound is impressive and last year’s trade that sent designated hitter Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay for Ryan has proven to be one of Derek Falvey’s best moves as Twins’ president of baseball operations. Ryan is 5-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 starts.
  • Cruz is slashing .250/.332/.383 with seven home runs and 38 RBIs in 65 games for Washington. The Nationals are in last place in the NL East at 25-46, so it’s likely Cruz will be moved before the Aug. 2 trade deadline. Cruz, who will turn 42 a week from Friday, is playing on a one-year, $15 million deal with the Nationals.
  • While Wild general manager Bill Guerin expressed a desire to bring back free agent goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, it appears Fleury might have a chance to land back in Pittsburgh. That’s where he began what will end up as a Hall of Fame career and many feel Fleury’s desire is to end his playing time with the Penguins. NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman said on Pat McAfee’s show that Fleury’s return to Pittsburgh isn’t out of the question. “I think there is a chance Fleury is coming back to Pittsburgh,” Friedman said. “I think it’s possible. Last year, Washington wanted Fleury really bad. And he wouldn’t be traded to the Capitals. Because he was, like, ‘I might want to go back to Pittsburgh. And I don’t think I could play for the Capitals.'” Fleury started the first five games in the Wild’s opening-round playoff loss to the Blues after being acquired by the Wild at the trade deadline.