Decisions on 3 Franchise Cornerstones Are Approaching for Vikings

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

Training camp has kicked off in Minnesota with the arrival of the rookies and a select group of veterans on Sunday. They now have under three weeks to prepare for the first preseason game on August 10th in Seattle. The first regular season contest is scheduled exactly one month later, on September 10th.

Decisions on 3 Franchise Cornerstones Are Approaching for Vikings

But training camp is not the only important thing on the agenda. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must make some crucial decisions about the organization’s future in the next few weeks, and three stars come into focus.

Decisions on 3
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Justin Jefferson is the main priority in the state of Minnesota. The superstar wideout has been eligible to sign a contract extension since earlier in the offseason. Adofo-Mensah obviously picked up his fifth-year option to ensure his tenure with the Vikings will last until at least the end of the 2024 season. To guarantee his employment beyond that, he must find a way to agree with him to a new contract, which should also be a no-brainer.

Jefferson likely wants to sign an extension that makes him the highest-paid wide receiver. After leading the league in both receptions and receiving yards, winning the Offensive Player of the Year trophy, and having the hottest start to a career of any NFL player ever, he certainly deserves it.

Tyreek Hill’s average annual salary of $30 million is the top, followed by Davante Adams with $28.5 million. Of course, Jefferson is way younger. He is the face of the franchise and one of the best marketable players in the league. An extension would give the Vikings organization a nice spark leading up to the 2023 campaign.

Hockenson Chatter
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Tight end T.J. Hockenson is one year ahead of Jefferson’s timeline. He is currently scheduled to play under his fifth-year option and would hit free agency next year without an extension. Since his trade, he has been a fantastic player for the Vikings, surely earning a new deal.

Players at his position and talent make around $15 million per season, and the deal should also be a no-brainer if the Vikings view him as a stable of the franchise. The former eighth-overall pick immediately became Cousins’ second-favorite target after his arrival, and he could be in line for a big year after spending his first offseason with the Vikings and getting fully comfortable with the playbook.

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And the final guy on the list is Danielle Hunter. His situation is extremely impactful for the 2023 season because a defensive overhaul is obviously easier to do with the best defender on the roster actually playing for the team.

He wants a new deal, as his salary in 2023 is just $5.5 million – a laughable number for an edge rusher coming off a Pro Bowl season. The Vikings need a strong pass rush to compensate for a shaky coverage unit. While the team signed Marcus Davenport in free agency, backups D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones would be a severe downgrade from the three-time Pro Bowler.

Pittsburgh Steelers defender Alex Highsmith just signed for an average annual salary of $17 million, and Hunter is a far more accomplished player. $20 million per season would rank Hunter tied seventh among edge rushers, and he possibly wants even more than that.

The Decision About 3 Franchise Cornerstones is Approaching
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Jefferson and Hockenson are investments for the future, while Hunter’s situation is urgent. If the Vikings can’t agree to a deal and ship him to another team, they will certainly miss him and worsen their roster significantly. However, every player has a price, and if his asking price is too high, a divorce is the logical consequence.

All three situations should be resolved within the next few weeks with the players in the building, but the decisions are crucial for the organization’s future. Keeping talent on board but also not making irresponsible deals to limit future actions within the NFL’s salary cap is Adofo-Mensah’s job.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt