NFL Analyst Describes Vikings Offseason in Unique Way

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Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell looks to the video board in the third quarter game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah calls it a ‘competitive rebuild.’

But for others, that’s just semantics.

NFL Analyst Describes Vikings Offseason in Unique Way

The Vikings entered the 2023 offseason, plotting a way to build off 2022 success that featured an out-of-nowhere 13-4 record. Head coach Kevin O’Connell took over the organization in February 2022 — and boom — the club won the NFC North for the first time in five years, some nine months later.

Not bad.

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Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on from the sideline against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota’s offseason, though, has confused some, so much so that CBS Sports defined the January-through-April dealings with one sentence: “They’re in a holding pattern.”

Nine players left the team in recent months: Cameron Dantzler (CB, Commanders), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns),¬†Duke Shelley¬†(CB, Raiders), Irv Smith (TE, Bengals), Kris Boyd (CB, Cardinals), and Chandon Sullivan (CB, Steelers). Za’Darius Smith was also traded last week to the Cleveland Browns.

Describes Vikings Offseason
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), Dean Lowry (DT, Packers), Brandon Powell (WR, Rams), Troy Reeder (LB, Chargers), Joejuan Williams (CB, Patriots), and John Reid (CB, Falcons) arrived as free agent newcomers.

Six men arrived from the 2023 NFL Draft, including 1st-Round WR Jordan Addison, plus another 15 undrafted free agents.

And all that led CBS Sports‘ Cody Benjamin to identify the Vikings in a holding pattern. He explained, “It’s a weird middle ground between contending and resetting after a 13-4 debut under Kevin O’Connell. GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah cut ties with expensive fan favorites like Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks, then opted for low-risk bets like Byron Murphy and Marcus Davenport, signaling an eye on the future. Most notably, QB Kirk Cousins is entering a contract year with no known succession plan in place.”

Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) and quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in action during the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

However, the ‘weird middle ground’ isn’t goofy at all if one references Adofo-Mensah’s adherence to a competitive rebuild. He doesn’t believe in tearing an organization down to nubbins, nor will the young executive stubbornly cling to something that isn’t working. The proof is the pudding, for now, in not extending Cousins’ contract beyond this season. He may simply want the man to ‘prove it.’

Moreover, Adofo-Mensah inherited an annually-tight salary cap, courtesy of his predecessor Rick Spielman. When a regular season would end, Vikings fans would glance at the team’s salary cap and see the same thing every year — pennies compared to other NFL teams.

With Adofo-Mensah’s 2023 offseason approach, that will not be the case in 2024, as Minnesota is on deck [at the moment] for about $44 million in cap space in March 2024. Usually, that number is red — meaning the Vikings must shave and cut expenditures — but this time, it is green, to the tune of $44 million, per OverTheCap.com.

If that means weird middle ground, well, that’s just the way it goes. And for curious minds, it won’t feel like weird, middle, or ground if Cousins departs in free agency. It’ll be a brave new world of Vikings football.


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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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

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