ESPN Predicts Forthcoming ‘Dramatic Rebuild’ for Vikings
In a comprehensive look at the NFL offseason, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell classified the Minnesota Vikings offseason as the “17th-best” leaguewide. That ranking, like many Vikings-related items, fell right in the middle of the pack.
Barnwell was generally complimentary of new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s offseason maneuvers, commending his draft-night trading and applauding his confrontation with reality regarding Kirk Cousins’ contract.
Still, Barnwell foreshadowed a “dramatic rebuild” on the docket for the Vikings at an undisclosed time.
Barnwell even name-dropped Minnesota as a playoff contender in 2022 but warned of the forthcoming structural rebuild, “They can be a playoff team with reasonable luck and health in 2022, but it’s difficult to see them seriously challenging the Packers or the other top teams in the NFC. A more dramatic rebuild is coming, so this offseason might look like delaying the inevitable with a year or two of hindsight.”
Adofo-Mensah had a license to rebuild, but his comments this week to Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk indicate he doesn’t subscribe to rebuilding for the sake of rebuilding. Adofo-Mensah told Florio, “Everybody is so quick to say that it’s just ‘tear it down,’ right? It’s like the easiest thing to say in sports. But there’s so many costs and things that go into that.”
Barnwell primarily implied the rebuild is on its way — eventually — because Kirk Cousins is at the helm of the franchise. Throughout his career with the Washinton Commanders and Vikings, teams led by Cousins are a perfectly even-steven 59-59-2 via win-loss record. So, Barwell must believe Minnesota is headed that way during Cousins’ final two years with the Vikings (2022 and 2023).
Otherwise, if Cousins was rocking and rolling with new head coach Kevin O’Connell, why rebuild? The only other possibility is that Barnwell forecasts a rebuild after Cousins’ retirement, which should be around 2028 or so.
Furthering mentioning the roster continuity from the 8-9 Vikings of last year, Barnwell noted, “Most new brain trusts come in and push their team in one direction or the other, but Adofo-Mensah and new coach Kevin O’Connell seem to be heading toward the same path in Year 1.”
Vegas oddsmakers nominate the Vikings as an eight or nine-win team in 2022, so Barnwell’s “they will rebuild soon” mentality seems to mirror the sportsbooks. Although, Barnwell does predict a fringe playoff upside for O’Connell’s Vikings.
In the same analysis where Barnwell predicted an impending rebuild, he finished off his Vikings thoughts by mentioning a possible union with Akiem Hicks or Eddie Goldman from the Chicago Bears.
Perhaps Adofo-Mensah, O’Connell, Cousins — and maybe even Hicks or Goldman — will take one crack at this thing together in 2022, and then rebuild if the result is unsuccessful.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).