Vikings Could Achieve Rare Stint with 1 Group

Bittersweet Kirk
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2022 Minnesota Vikings finished the season with NFL’s 13th-best offensive line performance, according to Pro Football Focus.

To a degree, this was cause for celebration as renditions of the Vikings usually ended seasons ranked lower than No. 20 via offensive line proficiency from 2018 to 2021. Quarterback Kirk Cousins still endured too many quarterback hits — he was hit more than anyone — but generally speaking, the offensive trenches improved.

Vikings Could Achieve Rare Stint with 1 Group

Now, the Vikings are poised to experience some long-term offensive line continuity, depending on the free agency of center Garrett Bradbury. He may or may not be back with the team in 2023, but regardless of that outcome, the offensive line is mostly set.

Vikings Could Achieve
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

The Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson tweeted last week, “While much of chatter involving Vikings extensions in the offseason has surrounded Justin Jefferson & TJ Hockenson, keep an eye out for possible extension for Ezra Cleveland, rated NFL No. 10 guard in 2022 by PFF. He has interest in a long-term deal as he enters the final year of his contract.”

After Bradbury, the left guard position is the lingering maybe for long-term constancy. And per Tomasson, Cleveland would enjoy remaining with the Vikings. He and the team’s front office just have to agree on the numbers.

So, if Cleveland indeed stays and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah gets the deal done at left guard, the rest is smooth sailing, at least for the next three years.

Significant Week 18
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Let’s assume Cleveland comes to terms with Adofo-Mensah. That’s one down — four to go. Right tackle Brian O’Neill is under contract through 2026, earning $18.5 million annually. He should be ultra-happy with that deal, sitting pretty as one of the highest-paid right tackles on the planet.

O’Neill and Cleveland — that’s two organically drafted commodities probably attached to the depth chart for at least 4-5 more years. Next to O’Neill is Ed Ingram, a right guard from LSU found in the 2022 NFL Draft whose contract doesn’t expire until the end of 2025. Ingram wasn’t a wizard as a rookie, but young offensive linemen often take more than one year to blossom. Even Cleveland wasn’t as good in 2020 as he was in 2022.

The Vikings Top Players from Best to Worst After Week 17
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Neill (2026), Cleveland (possibly 2027), Ingram (2025, for sure) — who’s next? Well, that would be Christian Darrisaw at left tackle, who’s rapidly becoming one of the best left tackles in the sport. The Vikings will not let him leave the organization, and he can’t leave until the end of 2025. Adofo-Mensah will start contract extension chats with Darrisaw and his camp at this time next year. Darrisaw’s 90.4 Pro Football Focus grade was the second-best in the league behind Trent Williams, a future Hall of Famer.

The last hinge for the plan is the aforementioned Bradbury. He’ll either ink a deal this offseason for four more years or so, or Adofo-Mensah will go center shopping in free agency or the NFL draft. That’s only one area of uncertainty for 2023 and beyond.

Ask any Vikings fan from the last half-decade, and this quiet little prognosis for long-term offensive line continuity is damn near cause for a parade.


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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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