The Minnesota Vikings are facing a major upheaval. Numerous key players are already gone, but the team is not completely switching into tank mode – for good reason!
The Minnesota Vikings are in a rebuild!
Not in a complete one where they more or less ditch the season and go full-on 2024 draft. No, the Vikings are in what’s called a “competitive rebuild” – that is, a rebuild in which the franchise is still trying to remain competitive.
By March 15, the Vikings must get under the salary cap. Long-time performers were released for this. Linebacker Eric Kendricks and wide receiver Adam Thielen had to leave the franchise, as did 2020 draft pick Cameron Dantzler. Probably just the beginning.
The expiring contracts of defensive players Patrick Peterson and Dalvin Tomlinson were not renewed, both leaving the franchise. And the futures of top performers Harrison Smith, Za’darius Smith and Dalvin Cook are unclear. Trades are looming, especially for pass rusher Smith and running back Cook, to further boost draft potential in the coming years.
General manager and head coach have been building the team since 2022
But the strategy of General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who took over with Head Coach Kevin O’Connell before last season, is not a one-way street. The team should remain competitive, but at the same time the course for the future should be set.
That’s why the franchise from Minneapolis will also enter the 2023 season with quarterback Kirk Cousins. The 34-year-old still has a one-year contract in Minnesota and the trust of president and team co-owner Mark Wilf. “We’re very optimistic for 2023 and Kirk will be our leader on offense,” Wilf told “Good Morning Football”.
In Justin Jefferson, Cousins currently has perhaps the best wide receiver in the entire league at his disposal. The franchise will be built around him in the coming years. “We want to keep him for many years to come,” Wilf said of the youngster, who is only 23.
Potential draft picks
To remain competitive, tight end Josh Oliver was signed in free agency (three years, $21 million), who is best known for his outstanding blocking. The defence was strengthened with pass rusher Marcus Davenport, who is expected to stay for a year – keyword: competitive rebuild!
Adding ten players from last year’s 2022 draft, hopes are pinned on first- and second-round picks Lewis Cine (safety) and Andrew Booth Jr. (cornerback), respectively, who barely saw action last season due to injuries. In 2023, the franchise has only five draft picks – as of now – but at least one of them is a first-round pick.
The goal for the 2023 season is to continue to compete at the top, collect draft picks for future years and invest wisely. The options for the future are then almost limitless if the Vikings manage to complete the “Competitive Rebuild”.