There is potential for the Minnesota Vikings to do something this offseason. Something big.
Last year when the Vikings hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their general manager, he was a very outside-the-box type of hire, a guy who was very into analytics and numbers, and people thought Minnesota would change the way it operated.
Instead of doing that, Adofo-Mensah continued to go all-in with the roster he inherited from the previous regime. He even added more veterans, guys including edge Za’Darius Smith and linebacker Jordan Hicks.
But here we are this offseason after the Vikings won 11 one-score games in 2022 but lost in the first round to the New York Giants at home. It was a very disappointing end to a 13-4 regular season.
When you look at the Vikings’ roster and the contracts they have on the books, there are a handful of players they can move on from, and if they want to blow it all up, there is potential to do that this year as well.
Contracts Vikings Could Cut
>> The Vikings can move on from running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 1,173 yards and accounted for 10 touchdowns, and save about $8 million.
>> Smith, who had 10 sacks and was a Pro Bowl pick, had a good start to the season but was a bit of a no-show the rest of the way. They can move on from him and save about $12 million.
>> Linebacker Eric Kendricks has been tremendous for them for many years and led them with 87 solo tackles, but they can move on and save about $10 million.
>> Hicks was a free-agent signing last year and contributed 86 solo tackles, but Minnesota can move on and save about $5 million.
>> Safety Harrison Smith, a former first-round pick and two-time All-Pro who has been selected to six Pro Bowls, could be designated as a post-June 1 cut, which would save another $15 million.
So if Adofo-Mensah wants to go in and change course, he has the ability to do that this offseason.
Contracts Vikings Could Hand Out
There are a bunch of Vikings players who will need new contracts. One will be Justin Jefferson, who more than likely will soon become the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. He could aim for $30 million or more per year.
Tight end T.J. Hockenson, whom Minnesota acquired from the Detroit Lions at the trade deadline, might aim to become the highest-paid tight end in a market that has not moved like other markets. The Vikings gave up quite a bit of draft capital to obtain him, and he responded with 60 catches and 519 yards in 10 games.
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Offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland, who was a second-round pick in 2020, is another candidate for an extension, and quarterback Kirk Cousins has one year left on his contract. What will the Vikings do with him? Does he get another year, another fully-guaranteed deal?
There are a lot of questions about how Minnesota will handle this offseason. This roster has been intact for asso many years, dating back to when Rick Spielman was the Vikings’ general manager.
Is this the year that the Vikings finally blow it up and try to reset it? What Minnesota does this offseason will be fascinating, and it’s not being talked about enough.