The Offseason Is Over. And the Vikings Have a ‘Grade.’

Offseason Is Different
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the 2023 NFL Combine the Week of February 27th. The Vikings have the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Eight new free agents have joined the Minnesota Vikings since March, including 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).

The Offseason Is Over. And the Vikings Have a ‘Grade.’

Including Za’Darius Smith, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns on May 12th, 10 players have vamoosed the Minnesota Vikings this offseason: Cameron Dantzler (CB, Bills), 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).

Overhauled Teams
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings also welcomed this draft class in April:

  • R1: Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
  • R3: Mekhi Blackmon (CB, USC)
  • R4: Jay Ward (S, LSU)
  • R5: Jaquelin Roy (DT, LSU)
  • R5: Jaren Hall (QB, BYU)
  • R7: DeWayne McBride (RB, UAB)

And about 17 undrafted free agents joined the club, including ‘big name’ UDFAs Ivan Pace Jr. (LB) and Andre Carter II (OLB).

The Offseason Is
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

After the dust settled on those transactions — there were several — Sporting News assigned the Vikings a report card for their efforts, with a B grade. Sporting News boss Vinnie Iyer handed out grades to all NFL teams for the 2023 offseason a week ago, and the Vikings ranked 18th leaguewide.

Iyer nominated Jordan Addison, DeWayne McBride, Dean Lowry, Marcus Davenport, and Byron Murphy Jr. as ‘key additions’ and explained the B-grade, “The Vikings’ inflated record from 2022 covered up a lot of need to rebuild in several areas with an aging roster. GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah got to work on that for second-year coach Kevin O’Connell, helping his offense push forward in what could be the final season with Kirk Cousins at quarterback.”

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iyer ranked the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 1, A), Chicago Bears (No. 2, A), and Cincinnati Bengals (No. 3, A), as the cream of the crop, while the Green Bay Packers (No. 30, C-), Arizona Cardinals (No. 31, C-), and Los Angeles Rams (No. 32, C-) lived in the offseason dungeon.

The Vikings are banking on a couple of items going well to stave off regression from an unforeseen 13-4 record a year ago. Foremost, the franchise fired Ed Donatell after just one season, hiring Brian Flores as the fix-all. Adofo-Mensah said goodbye to defenders Eric Kendricks, Dalvin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson, Za’Darius Smith, and Duke Shelley, among others, this last four months, so Flores must ‘do more with less,’ at least in terms of player experience.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has preached an emphasis on running the football more in 2023, in addition to adding wide receiver Jordan Addison in the 1st Round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Vikings are very vividly an offense-first enterprise, evidenced by the Addison draft pick when the defense could’ve demanded more personnel improvement.

Hiring Flores and his aggressive style, interwoven with running the ball more, plus a splash of Addison, in 2023 is apparently the new blueprint for success.

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).

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