With the Kansas City Chiefs beating the San Francisco 49ers in last night’s Super Bowl, the off-season has officially begun for all 32 NFL teams. The Minnesota Vikings have already been busy with personnel changes, but now the real work, and speculation, begins.
The NFL Draft is 80 days away. This is the biggest date on the off-season calendar for the Vikings because of their unfortunate cap space situation. The Vikings have the 25th overall pick in the draft, and the experts are split on what position the team will target in that late first round. The Vikings also have a second, third, fourth, sixth, and two seventh round picks, so far, in this year’s draft. Compensatory picks have not been handed out by the league yet.
Most mock drafts have the Vikings going either offensive tackle, defensive tackle, cornerback, or safety. It’s not surprising that there is no consensus, there rarely is on late first rounders especially this early in draft season. The NFL combine is still 21 days away, and is the best look most of us will have at the top prospects working out. After that, we may be able to dig up some highlights of pro days, but there is rarely coverage of these smaller workouts.
Some big decisions also have yet to be made that would help dictate what the Vikings can do with their picks. The roster may look very different come April 23rd.
First, they must decide whether to restructure or cut some fat contracts. Xavier Rhodes and Everson Griffen are two big candidates that could be cut to get the Vikings under the cap.
Second, they must try to retain some of their free agents. Anthony Harris is the biggest name set to hit free agency, but there are others, like the solid special teams pair of Dan Bailey and Britton Colquitt, who the organization will want to try to keep ahold of. Trae Waynes will almost certainly be out of the Vikings price range because of how the NFL values cornerbacks.
Finally, the team must decide what, if any, extensions they want to handle this off-season. Kirk Cousins is set to become a free agent after next season, and the Vikings must decide whether they want Cousins to be their man going forward. If they do, they can also free up cap space by converting some of this year’s salary into bonuses and stretching it over the next few.
Dalvin Cook is another big name that is waiting to find out if he will be inking a new deal. Cook, though often injured, has been the most electric Vikings running back since Adrian Peterson. However, in a league where durability is key and running backs are seemingly always coming and going, the Vikings may be able to get a hometown discount on Cook.
There is a lot of action coming up in this NFL off-season and we’ll be covering all of it. Here is a list of important upcoming dates pulled from our own Sean Borman’s article a few weeks ago which you can find here.
February 3rd: 2019 waiver system begins
February 11th: NFL teams may begin to sign players whose 2020 CFL contracts have expired
February 25th: First day to designate franchise or transition players
February 24th – March 2nd: Scouting Combine (Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN)
March 10th: Deadline to apply franchise or transition tags (3pm CST)
March 16th: Teams may contact and begin negotiating with unrestricted free agents
March 18th: New league year begins
March 18th: Top 51 Rule begins
March 18th: All clubs must be under the 2019 Salary Cap prior to 3pm (CST)
March 18th: Free agency begins (3pm CST)
March 29th – April 1st: Annual league meeting (Palm Beach, Florida)
April 6th: Teams with new head coaches may begin offseason workout programs
April 17th: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets
April 20th: Teams with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs
April 23rd – April 25th: 2019 NFL Draft (Las Vegas, Nevada)
April 27th: Teams may try out or sign players who were under contract with an XFL team
May 1st – May 3rd OR May 8th – May 11th: Optional 3-day Rookie Minicamp
May 11th: Rookie Football Development Programs begin
May 14th – May 17th: NFLPA Rookie Premiere (typically first and/or second-round selections attend with permission from team. OTAs and minicamps also begin during this period)
May 19th – May 20th: Spring League Meeting (Marina Del Ray, California)
May 22nd – June 6th: OTA offseason workouts (estimated dates)
June 11th – June 13th: Mandatory Minicamp (estimated dates)
Late June: Mandatory Rookie Transition Program
July 15th: Deadline to re-sign designated franchise player to contract extension
Mid-July: Training Camp (veterans may report no earlier than 15 days prior to first preseason game or July 15, whichever is later; rookies may report up to seven days prior to veterans; QBs and injured players may report up to five days prior to veterans if rookies have reported)
July 22nd: Deadline for team to sign transition player
August 6th: Hall of Fame Game (Canton, Ohio)
August 6th – August 9th: Hall of Fame Weekend (Canton, Ohio)
August 11th: Deadline for players under contract to report to team
September 5th: 53-man roster deadline (3pm CST)
September 6th: Claiming period for players placed in waivers at final roster reduction expires at 11AM CST
September 6th: Practice squad roster set (Noon CST)
September 10th: Top 51 Rule expires at 11AM CST
September 10th: NFL season opener