One of the players leading my Vikings-centric free-agent targets for the Denver Broncos is, apparently, one of the players new Broncos general manager George Paton wants most.
According to Woody Paige of the Colorado Springs Gazette, former Minnesota linebacker Eric Wilson "will be on Paton's wish list" for the NFL's 2021 signing period, which begins Monday with the opening of the legal tampering window.
Paige also floated non-Vikings cornerbacks Troy Hill, William Jackson, and Jason Verrett as potential players of interest to Denver, who are unlikely to "go crazy" — Paton's words — splurging on veteran talent despite its $32.6 million surplus of salary-cap space.
As such, Wilson makes a ton of sense. He's young (26), experienced (25 starts in four seasons), productive (234 career tackles), and hand-chosen by Paton — formerly the Vikings' assistant GM — as a 2017 undrafted free agent.
The Cincinnati product is coming off his best year as a pro. In 2020, he led the Vikings with 122 combined tackles across all 16 games (15 starts), adding nine QB hits, eight pass breakups, three sacks, and three interceptions.
Wilson, who can play inside or inside, was nicknamed "The Walking Turnover" due to his propensity for takeaways. Both his versatility and clutch factor earned rave reviews from coaches.
"Ever since Eric's been here, he's been able to back up both positions when Anthony and Eric were in there, and whoever went down, he just went in in that position," Vikings co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Adam Zimmer told ESPN in December. "It's something he's done in the past, which helps, but it's a real tribute to the kid, how he just steps in and doesn't miss a beat playing a completely different position in the sub [package]."
Wilson shouldn't break the bank as a B-list option in an A-list market that boasts Shaquil Barrett, Bud Dupree, Kyle Van Noy, and Melvin Ingram, among others.
The Broncos will seek help at the position(s) with OLBs Jeremiah Attaochu and Anthony Chickillo and ILB Joe Jones all impending free agents. There's also the matter of star pass-rusher Von Miller, whose 2021 contract option and subsequently massive $22.225 million cap figure may or not be exercised by the club.
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