Could This Dalton Risner Thing Be Real for Vikings?

Even National Voices
Feb 9, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, US; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner Poses for a photo poses for a photo on the red carpet before the NFL Honors award show at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings might be on the cusp of something that has eluded the franchise’s mindset for years — getting richer on the offensive line.

Minnesota is reportedly hosting veteran offensive guard Dalton Risner in Eagan, possibly en route to bolstering the offensive trenches in Kevin O’Connell’s second season as head coach.

Could This Dalton Risner Thing Be Real for Vikings?

Risner was coworkers with current Vikings offensive line coach Chris Kuper in Denver for three years, so the relationship angle is already solidified.

Could This Dalton
Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Monday, just 11 days before the Vikings first preseason game, “Some OL help on the way? Source says that former Broncos guard Dalton Risner is on his way to visit the Vikings, potentially filling a need into training camp. Risner started 62 games over the last four years for Denver and is the top OL available.”

The Broncos drafted Risner in the 2nd Round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and the man was actually linked to the Vikings via the draft lead-up process four years ago. Now, Risner may be mere hours from a second career chapter in Minnesota.

Other Free Agents
Nov 1, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner (66) in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

Why would the Vikings sign an offensive guard, as they seem pretty well set in the trenches? Simple — improvement and depth. Left guard Ezra Cleveland’s contract expires at the end of the 2023 season. It is unclear if Minnesota is dying to have him back beyond a rookie deal. On the right side at guard, Ed Ingram fired up a topsy-turvy rookie season, succumbing to gaffes and poor performance early in the season before starting to right the ship down the stretch.

Adding Risner would prove the Vikings earnestness in improving the offensive line after years of mediocrity and, in some years, downright futility.

Aug 10, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) signs autographs for fans after training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

Moreover, Risner is an offensive guard commodity that Vikings fans aren’t used to — he protects against the pass better than the run. For years, Vikings football has showcased the inverse. Perhaps the Vikings can, alas, end the Zimmerian mindset of run-over-pass offensive linemen in terms of skillset emphasis and enter a free-agent relationship with the ex-Bronco.

This is his Pro Football Focus resume since turning pro four years ago:

  • 2019 = 64.4
  • 2020 = 61.3
  • 2021 = 68.5
  • 2022 = 61.1

And the pass blocking versus run-blocking splits (red = pass | blue = run):

  • 2019 = 69.8 (P) | 60.3 (R)
  • 2020 = 61.3 (P) | 53.7 (R)
  • 2021 = 68.5 (P) | 63.2 (R)
  • 2022 = 61.1 (P) | 53.4 (R)
Dalton Risner of the Denver Broncos walks the red carpet before the NFL Honors awards special at the Phoenix Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. © Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Risner should be attainable for $4 to $7 million per year. The 6’5″ 310-pounder is also incredibly durable, playing 62 games in his career — starting all 62 — and missing only four contests in four years. He played 94% of all eligible games in Denver.

In theory, if the Vikings are even remotely planning to let the aforementioned Cleveland walk in free agency next year — 2023 is the final year of his rookie deal — they could line Risner up now to prepare for life after Cleveland.

And if one believes in player-coach ties, the Kuper-Risner connection, Risner could very well sign in Minnesota within the next day or two.

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