2023 Vikings Roster Battles Begin Heating Up

Kene Nwangwu is one of the players deadlocked in the Vikings roster battles during OTAs this summer.
Kene Nwangwu is one of the players deadlocked in the Vikings roster battles during OTAs this summer. Photo by Minnesota Vikings.

The month of June is now upon us. That means that summer is right around the corner. And Organized Team Activities are taking shape to set up some intriguing 2023 Vikings roster battles. However, there are certainly some questions surrounding Minnesota.

One big question mark will surround the status of Dalvin Cook and what his role will be on the team looking ahead to the 2023 season. How will some other positions look before teams begin taking to the gridiron for preseason action? This is a look at some of the roster battles and some players to watch as we continue to roll through OTAs and the hot Minnesota summer.

Vikings Roster Battles: Questions About Dalvin Cook

2023 Vikings Roster Battles
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

The off-season is bringing plenty of rumors and questions. One big question is about star running back Dalvin Cook. Does the team keep him? Do they cut him? Or do they trade him? If Cook is let go, they still have plenty of available talent in their running back room, according to Matthew Coller of Purple Insider and SI’s Bring Me the Sports,

“Throughout the off-season there have been numerous reports that the Vikings are looking for a trade partner for the veteran Pro Bowler but they either haven’t been able to find a suitor or haven’t received an offer that makes it worth pulling the trigger. While Cook returning remains possible, it would likely need to be on a re-worked deal that does not include his $14 million cap hit.”

“The issue with bringing him back as RB1 is that it would limit the opportunities the Vikings can give to their bullpen of young running backs, all of whom were recently drafted by the team.” This question mark could be one that continues to swirl around the Vikings as they prepare to continue on with OTAs. It will be a development to keep an eye with how it will affect Alex Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler, and DeWayne McBride for who will make the RB depth chart come August and September.

Vikings Roster Battles: Early Stand Out Players

Could Move Down
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) in the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports,

Despite the invisibility of Cook, there have been some intriguing and exciting young guns who are making quite a name for themselves at the early OTAs. As our head guy Dustin Baker notes here, three of the players are draftees from last year’s class. Two players in the secondary headline the list in sophomore season participants Lewis Cine (Safety) and Andrew Booth Jr. (corner).

Per Baker:

“Booth caught the attention of other-side-of-the-ball mate K.J. Osborn this week, which can’t be a bad thing for the Vikings defense . . . Like Booth, Cine was a 2022 draft commodity whose stock didn’t translate to regular season success as a rookie. Cine, though, broke his leg against the New Orleans Saints early in the season and was promptly ruled out for the rest of the year. But his recovery was speedy, and he’s back, appearing poised to wreak havoc inside Brian Flores’ new defense.”

Despite the disappointing rookie debuts, these two look to be rip-roaring and raring to go for their sophomore campaigns, and if the positive marks at OTAs are any indication, this will be plenty of positive momentum going forward.

Position Battles: Other Developing Notes

The Vikings Have 4
Sep 25, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) rush off the field against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports.

With some big-name players either holding out or not participating in OTAs due to injury, there are plenty of younger guys that are getting a chance to prove their worth early on. One of the more intriguing Vikings roster battles through the first couple of weeks of OTAs is at the edge rusher position. As the Daily Norseman notes,

“With Danielle Hunter not attending OTAs, and Brian Flores giving Marcus Davenport some reps at the 5-technique (DE in a 3-4 front), DJ Wonnum and Patrick Jones II have been playing the OLB/Edge Rusher spots with the 1s. Notable, however, is that Luigi Vilain and TJ Smith got some reps with the 1s as well. It wouldn’t be too surprising if the Vikings went with Harrison Phillips, Khyris Tonga, and a rotation for the last interior lineman on early downs, then switching to Dean Lowry and Davenport inside on passing downs.”

One group that seems to be really stepping up is the defense. Brian Flores seems to have instilled a more aggressive nature on that side of the battle, which will help to heat up the Vikings roster battles as OTAs draw closer to an end.

Final Thoughts

Sure, we may only be in the month of June, but OTAs are already to starting give a preview as to who might make the final 53-man roster this season. This will allow fans to keep an eye out on who will be on the depth chart after the final Vikings Roster Battles begin to wind down and the summer draws closer to Minnesota fans to bring excitement to the Gjallarhorn.