The Vikings Signed Dalton Risner. So, Now What?

Dec 8, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner (66) warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports.

With 28 words, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport lit up the lives of Minnesota Vikings fans in one tweet.

Rapoport posted on the X app Monday afternoon, “The Vikings are signing FA G Dalton Risner, sources say. The former Broncos starter — and one of the top free agents available — lends valuable experience to Minnesota’s line.”

The Vikings Signed Dalton Risner. So, Now What?

Vikings loyalists had requested a Risner signing for seven weeks after the veteran offensive lineman met with the club on August 1st. But then nothing happened, and Minnesota’s interior line struggled in the first two games of 2023.

Signed Dalton
Jul 18, 2019; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Dalton Risner (66) during drills at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

But now, on a one-year deal expandable up to $4 million, Risner in the house, and here’s how he might fit on the Vikings depth chart.

Take Ed Ingram’s Job — Right Guard

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and guard Ed Ingram (67) in action during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

In case you missed it, Ed Ingram has floundered out of the gate in 2023, a follow-up to his rather lackluster rookie campaign last year. He caused a fumble on his own teammate, Kirk Cousins, in Week 1 and didn’t totally rectify the performance in Week 2.

Therefore, Ingram’s spot, right guard, is the obvious placement for Risner, whose resume includes guard duty during his four-year career. The only “problem,” though, is Risner typically plays left guard. While it isn’t a total no-brainer for a guard to switch spots on an offensive line, Risner was likely signed to replace Ingram in the starting lineup, if not immediately, somewhat soon.

Cleveland to RG, Risner to LG?

Aug 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Dalton Risner (66) in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

However, there is a chance, albeit small, that Risner remains at his organic LG spot from the Denver days, with current LG Ezra Cleveland sliding over two spots. Cleveland was a tackle in college, so the versatility is there. Hell, Cleveland could likely fill in at offensive tackle in a pinch.

The way it’s shaping up, if Ingram is indeed sent to the bench, is that someone will play out of position because the Vikings now have two years-long left guards on the roster — Cleveland and Risner.

So, something’s gotta give. Cleveland. in theory, could move, with Risner staying at LG.

On the Bench for a Rainy Day

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

The unlikeliest of the three possibilities, mainly because of the $4 million deal, Risner could live as a backup guard until further notice. The Vikings would rather Ingram live up to his 2nd-Round draft stock, leaving Risner somewhat unnecessary. That just doesn’t seem to be the case, not through Ingram’s first 19 career games.

At the $4 million pricepoint, Risner will probably start somewhere on the offensive line. That’s starter money, especially a few games into the regular season.

Yet, there’s an outside shot he stays on the bench for a few weeks until the Vikings call upon him.

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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