A Look At Ray Edwards And The DE Position

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 22, 2011 – 6:05 am

Earlier this week we devoted a “Monday Morning Mailbag: Extra” blog entry to analyzing the Vikings situation at WR, where the status of Sidney Rice remains up in the air due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) impasse. Another member of the starting lineup – this one on the defensive side of the ball – finds himself in a similar scenario.

DE Ray Edwards, who has developed into a solid starting LDE opposite Jared Allen, will hit the open market under a CBA that requires 4 or fewer accrued seasons to be eligible for unrestricted free agency. But if the next CBA requires more than 4 seasons, Edwards (and Rice) will remain under contract in Minnesota with a RFA tender.

So we’ll treat this entry the same way we treated the entry about Rice; what might be the Vikings plan if Edwards decides to leave the club via free agency?

As I pointed out with Rice, I think it’s important to first make it clear that retaining Edwards is the optimal outcome, whether it’s via a 1-year RFA tender or a long-term contract extension. He’s developed from a risky 4th-round pick in 2006 to a solid starting-caliber DE on a defensive line that’s been dominant against the run and improving against the pass over the last several seasons. Edwards fits well on the defensive line in Minnesota and I’m guessing head coach Leslie Frazier would prefer to have a player of Edwards’ ability on the roster.

But sometimes the optimal outcome can’t be reached. In that event, the Vikings might address the position a bit differently than they’d address the WR position. As we pointed out on Monday with the WRs, the Vikings could take a look at the open market to fill a vacancy left by Rice’s departure. But if Edwards leaves and creates a void, the Vikings might already have the players who can step up and fill in.

Let’s take a quick look at a few players (in alphabetical order) who could compete for a starting job should Edwards leave via free agency…

Christian Ballard: This is a player about whom Vikings fans should be excited. He measures in at 6-4, 283 pounds, which gives him the frame to play either DE or DT in the Vikings 4-3 defensive scheme. Conveniently, Ballard has the skill set as well as the frame to be a versatile lineman capable of playing multiple positions. Ballard spent the first 2 years of his career at left DE before moving inside and starting all 13 games of his junior season at DT. In his final season, Ballard rotated often at both spots, starting 8 contests on the outside and 5 more inside. Wherever the Vikings need an infusion of talent – DE or DT – Ballard looks able to provide it.

 Everson Griffen: The Vikings selected Griffen during the 2010 NFL Draft and at the time he was described as a player with 1st-round talent who slid to the 4th round. He was productive on special teams but wasn’t able to make much of a difference on defense (he didn’t see much action on defense, either). But there’s no denying that Griffen has the physical ability to be a contributor on defense. He just has to put in the work necessary to improve and convince coaches he can be trusted to perform consistently. If Griffen can get on the field, he’s got a shot to prove a lot of doubters wrong and show everyone that he shouldn’t have slide into the 4th round.

Brian Robison: Here’s yet another player the Vikings took in the later rounds and eventually developed into a solid playmaker. Robison was rewarded for his hard work and production this past offseason with a new contract. It might not take long for Robison to start earning that contract, because he’s likely the default choice to start if Edwards leaves. But don’t peg Robison as someone who’ll be happy to be named the “default starter.” Both Ballard and Griffen could have the talent to beat him out. The question is, will Robison let them? I’m guessing the answer is no.

What do you think? Do any of these players represent a suitable replacement for Edwards? Let us know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.

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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 38 Comments »

38 Responses to “A Look At Ray Edwards And The DE Position”

  1. By Frederick Jones on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    The Vikings do have great depth on the defensive line. Do we have the defensive backs to force qbs to chuck it before they are ready?

    Our #1 priority is to sign Sid Rice. He will complete an above average receiving group.

    Then we must use some cash for free agents at
    defensive back, and offensive line.

    I’m okay with Joe Webb battling C. Ponder at quarterback, although to WIN BIG
    right away we need a veteran quarterback.

  2. By Scott on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve been a Brian Robinson fan ever since he playing days at Texas. Honestly I was somewhat surprised he has not beat out Edwards yet. His hard ethic and motor seem to be the perfect match for his counter-part on the other side of the line (Allen). If memory serves me, Edwards has already eluded to the fact that he did not think he would be playing for the Vikings in 2011 which makes me believe he is not as much of a team player as Robinson. I hope we don’t bend over backwards to keep him.

  3. By V for Viking on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    While I may concede that Ray Edwards is a “solid” DE, he has never been a difference-maker on the D-line and certainly not someone who can take pressure off Jared Allen. The only game I can recall where he was a true presence was the 2009 playoff game against Dallas and I think we can agree he was “batting above his average,” if I can be allowed to mix in a baseball term. Edwards has always struck me as someone who should be doing more and having a larger effect. Every position on the Vikings’ defense needs scrutiny and throwing a lot of money at Edwards to keep him is probably not a good idea.

  4. By Frederick Jones on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    Jones-Drews of the Jacksonville Jaguars would love to acquire Sidney Rice for his team. (I saw this on some video. (probably ESPN)

    A player like that could influence his ownership.

    The Vikings must make it a priority to sign Rice. Do that first.

  5. By jvernon on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    They should had tagged Rice instead of Greenway. Greenway wasn’t going nowhere. If yall wantto keep Rice best get a QB. Kolb,McNabb,Palmer,or Orton. Young wouldn’t be a bad choice either. I just want to see us compete in the North. I hate the Packers

  6. By Karl on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I think everyone here will agree that we hate the Packers.

    As for DL, I think we are completely solid. Especially since Pat Williams has recently said that he’s thinking of playing another year and wouldn’t mind playing with the Vikings. I’m sure Frazier would like to keep him around. I also really like Ballard. He is the youth we need at the DT position, and can play DE on nickel formations.

    I really like Edwards, but agree that we’re deep enough at DE to do without him, especially since I expect Robison to be a stud. Robison has shown glimpses of excellent in his limited playing time. Not sold on Griffen yet, but haven’t seen much.

  7. By Shawn on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I think one of those 3 will produce as much as Edwards … but Im not confident in that statement because I believe if Edwards hadnt missed 2 games for injury he would of had his first 10 sack season and hes only 26

    so its a tricky situation and we should be fine in any of those choices

    Sidney Rice is the one we cant lose

  8. By Richard on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I think the priority is to sign Rice again. With Rice, Harvin, and hopefully a more productive Berrian, put together with the new te rudolph, whoever is qb will have some good players to throw too.

    We also need to start spending a bit of money. First we should get a solid o line player, than look for guys to play in the secondary, which needs some help. I say o line first because with the good d line we have, we dont need the best, most expensive secondary out there, just guys who work hard, love the team, and can cover a reciever.

    As for d line, i think that we are solid. We have a ton of talented de’s, who all need to work hard and learn from jared allen. Same goes for the interior lineman. Pat and Kevin are getting old, so they need to share there experience with the young guys.

    RB aint an issue, and whoever plays qb will be exciting to watch, at the least. Im excited for vikings football next year, and if the guys are working hard, they should contend for the playoffs.

    I am just happy favres gone.

    Once a packer, always a packer, worst team ever

    go twins!
    go vikes!

  9. By Parody on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I always thought Robison was a better pass rusher than Edwards, which led me to conclude that the reason Edwards won the position was his run stopping abilities outshined Robison. Personally, I prefer seeing QBs getting creamed, so I always was more a fan of Robison than Edwards.

    Now that Edwards has made it pretty clear that all he cares about is money, it’s time to move on. The only reason that I see the team wants to retain Ray is so that they can have a valuable trade asset. That’s seems especially true when considering the big contract that was given to Robison.

    It will be interesting to see the competition with Robison and Griffen, but I think that Ballard will need to focus on winning a spot at DT since we’re now without Pat, and could be forced to struggle through 4-games without Kevin as well.

  10. By James on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I always like our DEs, but we have a real problem at cornerback that needs to really really be addressed, cause Ced Griffen is NOT the answer and Winfield needs help BAD!! Other than that I think we can work with the rest, we got predictable play running Childress out of here, a smart quarterback even though I was iffy on him, but give him a chance cause coach is a smart dude. Invest in that area and maybe safety when we can go.

  11. By Andrew on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I believe the more games Robison plays the more everyone will say where did this guy come from and be surprised that our backup is not just better than Ray but better than most 4-3 LDE in the league. I really think he will groove perfectly in intense games.

  12. By Ron Miller on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I think we should keep Sidney Rice First of all because he is a great WR and then sign Edwards DE i think they will sign them both of them . But if we lose Rice to any other team then the Vikings are not concern of there WR that really stinks

  13. By Ron Miller on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    Lets not forget what Sidney Rice did in 2009 Beating up then Cowboys with 3 TDs and he was amazing on that game lets keep this guy at least

  14. By Mike B on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I agree that Rice is our first priority to get back to the team. Edwards is probably the second. Pat W is not a 4 down guy anymore and we need to have depth on the D line. Rice firs then Edward then free agency. I see need beyond 1 and 2 is a Veteran QB and then (this will shock Fred) the best OL player in free agency. Lastly D secondary. Just my two cents. Have a great week

  15. By Kong Lee on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    Re-Sign Rice, it will be trouble if we dont because we dont have much good depth at WR. Ray Edwards is a great player, but since he wasnt excited to stay as a Viking then he shouldnt play as a Viking anymore. Just my honest opinion

  16. By CA Norwegian on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    Mr. Ed shone in the playoffs vs Dallas. Still, were alright on D-Line. I like Rice, but fear his durability with the amount of time off he suffered from the injury in 09 until he was able to get off the injury report. If it works out, I will be happy to see how he does vs Vincent Jackson at our opener. We have Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolf. Lots of dbl TE sets are in order. Long O Drives = Better D.

  17. By Toby in CA on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    I prefer we let both of them go and get our 1st round picks out of them. We can use those to get younger. Ray is over-rated as well as Rice, due to his one breakout season. He hasn’t proven to be a consistent threat. However, to answer the question, I would prefer to retain Rice because he has more upside. Ray is a cancer in the locker room, you play for the game, not the money!

  18. By mike on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    keep sidney dont really care about edwards but i think we go all in for nmadi asomgua last name mite be mispelled but him or a great safety would be the best bet for the secondary

  19. By Rocksalt on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    ray edwards has publicly stated that he does not wish to play for vikes. IMO, he has never lived up to his self-proclaimed potential…….

  20. By CA Norwegian on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    Regarding the D-LINE. I like Ballard covering two positions. Webb could also double roster- WR on the roster, but you have another backup plan if the QB(s) are out. I think if he is not the QB starter, put him on the field. Even Favre said he can make things happen.

  21. By vikelifer on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    It sounds like everyone agrees,and I do too that Rice is a priority,don’t let him go.As far as D-line I think we will be ok there with our depth,I’m also a huge Hawkeye Fan and Ballard was a solid player.But I believe Brian Robison is the answer he plays with a motor and heart so if Edwards don’t want to be in Minnesota then bye-bye.Griffen I haven’t seen much of him at all so he must not be that good.

  22. By Nicholas on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    Ray Edwards is good trade bait, and that is about it IMO. He’d be good for a one year deal to trade to DE needy team. He’s more interested in boxing people that he has height and weight advantages over anyway….

    Robison, Ballard, and Griffen are great for depth at the position.

    I think Griffen could be great if given more playing time.

    Ballard seems like a great pick…can’t wait to see how he adjusts to the pro level.

    Robison will help put more pressure on the QB than Edwards ever did/will IMO. He’s also actually interested in playing for the team..its about WE instead of ME with Robison.

    We’re fine without Ray Edwards…but PLEASE sign Sidney Rice…he should be priority #1.

    Anyone who thinks 2009 was a fluke, please reference the game vs. the buffalo bills this past season.

    If Rice leaves…we should really re-consider who we have working in the front office.

  23. By jason on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    Id prefer that we keep edwards in the mix, but if we cant i feel pretty comfortable with the depth at the position. Sidney Rice is a different story, he is the best WR on the team and the only true passing threat on the outside….without Rice there is too much pressure to shut down Harvin and Shiancoe…..and Berrian has turned into a worthless prima donna. if we lose rice we need to land Santonio Holmes…hes the #1 possible free agent at the position right above Rice….so a trade off there might be a good thing!

  24. By Spanky8 on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    let him go hes not that good anyway… with so many packer players jumping ship to play for the Vikings, ii’m starting to think of green bay as the Vikings Farm Team. did ya see the packers ring? worst ring i ever seen it has the big ugly G on it.

  25. By Spanky8 on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    packer fans are the NFL’s “CASH COWS” they will buy anything with that real pretty G on it and thats why they win remember all them late flags? its always holding automatic 1st down….that keeps their drive alive and allows them a greater chance to win…THE NFL IS RIGGED FOLKS ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY

  26. By Spanky8 on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    packer fans buy more NFL Garb than any other teams fans and as long as they keep buying that ugly green bay garb they will keep winning and the NFL will see to it as they are not going to do anything to stop that cash flow…….

  27. By Sean on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    I just dont see why Edwards and Rice want out so bad..they were one play away from the superbowl..yes last year was a huge mess..but thats history now. Keeping Rice and Edwards with the current roster and free agent help at CB and depth at Oline will really make this team a solid playoff prospect. My wish list is Logan Mankins (G) and Vincent Jackson (WR), dump or trade Berrian. Move Webb to WR and keep him as a slash in special formations. The talent is here..If the Vikes are to get the stadium, which I think they will, Wilf will need to keep this team competitive and spend some money to keep and attract talent and most important keep the fans happy. If Ponder flounders this team will flounder.. its amazing what a PROVEN QB can do with this team. Its our achilies for sure. Maybe getting Mcnabb as insurance is a wise choice for Ponder to learn from for a yr or 2. All I have to say is Cunningham (NFL Championship game) Favre (NFC Championship game) Ponder is the X factor and keeping the good talent we have around him and this team is imparitive.

  28. By biggamehntr on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    We should not overrate either player ,both are young and have a lot to learn about the game .I agree Edwards had a great game against Dallas and Rice had a great game against the Saints but up untill those games and after those games BOTH PLAYERS have been average at best .Both players could be a distraction on the team,which is not good when trying to rebuild. New coaches, rookie QB, revamped offence ,defenceive lines is enoughj to deal with we need NO disruptive players. Pay both fair market value,apples to apples,nothing more ,nothing less.If they dont agree ,TRADE for other players or draft pics,but CUT ties and losses.

  29. By Rocksalt on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    Childress had to go. He was not the right fit. It appears YOU DO NOT GET IT. One need not be either coach or player to understand when there is a lack of leadership, and what to do about it

  30. By Rocksalt on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    Yes get rid of Berrian he has been a bust! What a waste of money!

  31. By Becker on Jun 23, 2011 | Reply

    I believe Robison will start this year and have a pro bowl season. He reminds me of Scott Studwell, I think its those terminator type eyes he has. When Edwards was out those two games Robison out performed him hands down and continues to be the DE that puts the most pressure on the QB when he is in. If the CBA forces Edwards to be a Viking I’d tade him for a 1st round draft pick. I don’t care what people say about our QB pick, I like him, The best QB’s today are the smart ones not the most powerful ones. Smarts leadership acuracy and tuffness all are needed to play that position and you can’t teach any of them, you have them or you don’t and I think Ponder has all four.When was the last time we had a QB with all four, maybe Gannon in 1990? but we let him go in 92 and he went on to win superbowl 37. Seriously I cannot see Ponder doing any worse, most likely better than any other QB that started his first year because 1. he has talent all around him and 2. he ran an offense similar to ours in college. I also think Webb is way too valuble of a player to be on the sideline period. Let him play WR and design some plays where he can throw the ball from his reciever position especially if Rice does not return. And use more plays running Harvin out of the backfield. Yes, trick plays using diference making players is what can get this team through the playoffs. Chilly use to say about his constant run up the middle play calls that he loved, “all you have to do is execute the play correctly and it will work” which really showed his stupidity. OMG with that kind of reasoning why would you need more than one play?. A deceptive offense is key to keeping the opponents defense off gaurd. I hate the cowboys as much as the packers but one of their best run plays was to line up in the shotgun, Romo pump fakes then hands it off to Barber and he would get a first down almost every time..I think a play like that would work well with Peterson because the defense is thinking pass instead of just waiting for AP to run it..And most offenses are busy running the ball in the first quarter trying to establish their running game. Thats where we are so fortunate because our offense has an established run game before we even take the field. Not many teams can run a play action pass as their first play, but we can and the best time to run them is in the first quarter when the defense is fresh and thinking run and save our run game for later when we have a lead. I also believe that whenever you have a 40+ year old cripple for a QB like Favre was, your OL will absolutely suffer because every DL man knows he will be easy to catch. Having a young mobil QB changes that instantly which should help our OL. It also looks like Mckinnie will actually have to work for his position this year. If it was up to me I’d move Mckinnie to right guard next to Loadholt and have the two of them along with Rudolph do some serious run blocking on the right side and let Ballard take care of left OT. It wouldn’t take much from him to out perform Mckinnie at left OT.

  32. By Lito on Jun 25, 2011 | Reply

    Edwards want out of VIkings. Focus on RIce if he wants to return to the VIkings.

  33. By Sean on Jun 26, 2011 | Reply

    brian robison should be the starter anyway ray is a big diva that under performs. We need to address the secondary antoine is getting old and cedric has had two acl tears in two seasons we need a good corner and a free saftey i personally love husain adbullah

  34. By Joe C on Jun 26, 2011 | Reply

    in response to Becker –

    no disrespect to your thoughts about the o line but both mckinnie and loadholt were horrible last year!!!! Mckinnie got Brett killed and stopped the streak yes he did!!!
    the goal line offense the Vikings ran last year proved how bad Loadholt really was. first and goal from the 1 on many occasions and due to Phil’s lack of effort they failed to score.
    Here is what happened
    first down from the one yard line: Brett hands the ball to Peterson who runs into the back of Loadholt (see he got pushed 5 yards backwards into the o backfield) for a loss of 2 yards.
    second down from the 3 yard line: Brett hands the ball to Peterson who runs into the back of Loadholt (see he got pushed 3 yards backwards into the O backfield) for a 2 yard gain
    Cliff notes: On first down, only lost 2 yards because Peterson dragged the DE forward 3 yards On second down Peterson got loose from the DE made a move on the other 6 guys that were at the line and was able to sqeeze a two yard gain

    Get the picture!!!! that’s what happened over and over again

  35. By Joe C on Jun 26, 2011 | Reply

    I know this is about Ray Edwards – That guy is a keeper – The scheme was to blame for his lack of production – if you only rush 4 defensive guys all year they will not get the job done – the O line has 5 guys on it and 6 when the TE is blocking – do the math – Frazier is a defensive guy he knows he needs to send more guys but he had no faith in that swiss cheese secondary – that’s why he didn’t send anyone even the linebackers were on their heels trying to help in coverage. get some help back there many DB’s on the market I hope we get a couple

  36. By Tim on Jul 1, 2011 | Reply

    i agree sidney rice is the guy the vikings need to be focused on right now he is our franchise wide reciever cant let him slip through our fingers we got to keep this team strong on all sides we keep our tallented players healthy and at there best its a matter of time before the vikings win the superbowl also at defensive end i would put robison in there see what kind of production he brings to the table in the first four weeks or so anyway

  37. By Tim on Jul 1, 2011 | Reply

    any body watching the top 100 of 2011 they put jared allen at number 80 he is i think the best DE in the NFL not only that theres only two vikings on the whole list thats Allen and Peterson they put six cowboys on that list where is Hutchinson Greenway and Winfield not to mention Kevin Williams and sidney rice man these voters got to be blind or stupid two vikings come on man

  38. By NickKoz on Jul 25, 2011 | Reply

    WE need Sydney Rice!! Adrian peterson him and Jared Allen are the hart and soul of tis team and we need them. Without Sydney Rice i would end my fanship with the Vikings. IF they cant sign a player thet important to their offence then i couoldnt stand to watch them. WE NEED SYDNEY RICE even if we have to cut everyone besides AP and Jared Alllen!!!

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