The 5 Biggest Moments of the Vikings Offseason
The Minnesota Vikings have conducted their most momentous offseason in 16 years, effectuating change from top to bottom and renewing a collaborative effort teamwide, perhaps absent amid the last few seasons.
Change didn’t happen in one swoop, so this is how the franchise got here.
Ranked from least to most significant, these are the biggest moments of the Vikings offseason to date.
5. Retention of QB Kirk Cousins through 2023
You debated this on the internet. You debated this with your family members. Your dog debated this on the internet and with family members.
Should the Vikings trade Kirk Cousins and start over? That was on everyone’s minds as a new general manager sat on the purple throne. A significant faction of Vikings fans was ready to move from the man posting a 59-59-2 (.500) career “quarterback record.” But the problem was that the new head coach had just won a Super Bowl with a quarterback eerily similar to Cousins. That was Matthew Stafford, and his Rams were triumphant over the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.
Cousins was retained, afforded an extra year on his contract, and badda bing — the Vikings scoffed at a foundational rebuild.
4. Acquisition of Free-Agent EDGE Rusher Za’Darius Smith
If you weren’t convinced by the Cousins re-signing that Minnesota was all-in for 2022, stealing Za’Darius Smith from the Green Bay Packers was the murder weapon evidence.
Now, Minnesota will pair Smith with Danielle Hunter, instantly formulating a Top-3 EDGE rushing combo on this continent. The Vikings could’ve started D.J. Wonnum, welcomed back Everson Griffen, or drafted a Jermaine Johnson type in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Alas, they did not. Signing Smith was the signal needed for fans to stimulate an “oh, wow, they are serious” outlook for the 2022 squad.
3. Terminations of GM Rick Spielman and HC Mike Zimmer
The firing of Mike Zimmer was wildly unsurprising. Jettisoning Rick Spielman was a bit of shock for Vikings faithful.
Zimmer’s system grew stale in 2020 and 2021, failing to cultivate spooky defenses after “his guys” left during the free agency window of 2020. In Zimmer’s last two hurrahs, the Vikings were 15-18 (.454), unbecoming of a team claiming to be a Super Bowl contender.
Spielman, on the other hand, probably could’ve canned Zimmer in January of 2021 and saved his job. He didn’t, and he, too, was canned accordingly.
Depending on your cause-and-effect opinion of the offseason, this could be classified as the biggest moment of the Vikings offseason. Both men were dismissed on the same morning, January 10th.
2. Hire of GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah
Youth, numbers, collaboration, and smiles — that’s what Minnesota snagged when it hired the economics-based Kwesi Adofo-Mensah from the Cleveland Browns.
The aforementioned Spielman was linked to the organization for 16 years (!!), so onboarding a new bossman was seismic for the purple team.
Adofo-Mensah is all about value — he talks about it a few times a week in front of microphones — and just like that, Minneapolis Moneyball was born on January 26, 2022.
1. Hire of HC Kevin O’Connell
The addition of O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah could be argued as interchangeable in terms of importance.
But for boots on the ground, O’Connell joining the Vikings takes the cake for the 2022 offseason. Adofo-Mensah and the Wilfs grabbed hold of a pendulum, dragged it all the way to the right, and then let the badboy swing to the left with the hire of an offensively-minded O’Connell.
For eight years, the Vikings preached defense, defense, and more defense. That hardnosed, run-the-ball mantra is dead.
O’Connell brings McVayism to the Twin Cities, and that is the biggest news of the last four months.
An Honorable Mention: The flirtation of hiring Jim Harbaugh from the University of Michigan would’ve made the list if the criteria were “Top 6.”
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).