Are the Vikings Putting Together an A-Grade Free Agency?

Vikings Will Enter 2023
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

When Kwesi Adofo-Mensah walked through the doors to become the ninth general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, he inherited a bit of a mess that didn’t have an easy fix, especially as the mandate from ownership was clear.

There would be no “tearing it down,” a rebuild needed to be a competitive one. Heading into Year 2 of the Adofo-Mensah era, are the Vikings putting together an A-grade free agency?

the Vikings Putting
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Minnesota shocked the world by putting together a 13-win season in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first season. On the back of two losing seasons to end Mike Zimmer’s tenure as the leader of the men in purple, expectations were low — outside of the most optimistic of Vikings fans.

However, without the need for wholesale changes, the new regime in Minnesota proved they could get more out of that group than their predecessors. Playoff disappointment gave a stark reminder of the problems still facing Minnesota, though. There was an aging roster made up of too many veterans on big contracts and not enough depth. Change was necessary.

Squad Turn Around

Vikings GM Explains "Win-Now" Mindset for 2022
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Unsurprisingly, a major turnaround in the makeup of the squad is underway. It is to be expected with the arrival of a new GM and HC, and even more so with the situation. Many of the players brought to Minnesota by Rick Spielman are exiting stage left, and the squad is quickly shaping into an Adofo-Mensah roster.

Stalwarts from Spielman’s time as general manager are becoming less evident on the roster. Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks are gone, and even younger players like Cameron Dantzler have been let go, as the new regime likely favors their own young guys. Of Course, Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw are exceptions and are the building blocks for the Vikings future on offense.

The only question that remains is the future at quarterback.

Are the Vikings Putting Together an A-grade Free Agency?

Free agency is now in full swing. Several players, including Dalvin Tomlinson to Cleveland, Patrick Peterson to Pittsburgh, and Kendricks to the LA Chargers, have gone out the door. Dantzler was waived and picked up by the Washington Commanders, and Thielen hit open free agency.

Duke Shelley, Irv Smith, Jonathan Bullard, Kris Boyd, Olabisi Johnson, and Chandon Sullivan have yet to determine their futures. Vikings fans are eager for a reunion with Shelley, who became a fan favorite last season. Thus far, the only thing pertaining to news on the cornerback’s future is a series of cryptic tweets.

Overall, how is the Vikings free agency going? Vikings fans should be upbeat. Minnesota was never going to be in the market for big flashy signings. Who would be leaving was going to be as crucial as who would be coming in. There is a clear plan to make the roster younger — something that was way overdue and is evidenced by the signings the Vikings have made, including Byron Murphy (25), Josh Oliver (25), and Marcus Davenport (26) are all in their mid-twenties. Dean Lowry (28) is slightly older. Even with the players the Vikings have chosen to re-sign, only long-snapper Andrew DePaola is over 30.

Are the Vikings putting together an A-grade free agency? Pro Football Focus thinks so, giving the Vikings a grade of A- for their work thus far.

Not everyone will share that opinion, however. Only a few days ago, CBS sports were critical of the Vikings moves, giving them a D+. Among other items, criticism of Davenport’s reported $13 million contract, despite the fact no detail of the contract has been released yet. So is it A- or D+, or is it more likely somewhere between? Grades for such things are often silly — even more so when we are nowhere near finished.

What Next?

Sep 8, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; American football player Odell Beckham Jr before the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

If you want big-name signings on big contracts, then the Vikings free agency won’t be exciting. If you look deeper into the work of a man trying to reshape a franchise that had lost its way, then you can greater appreciate the work of Adofo-Mensah. There’s plenty more work for him to do. There was no overnight fix to the situation he walked into. 

This time last year, the new Vikings GM ensured his roster was full of viable starting options and depth before heading to the draft. Some players, like guard Jesse Davis, never made it to the final 53-man roster. However, having those options and no pressure to find starters in the draft is the sensible approach and gives a team more freedom going into the draft.

The next moves to allow that to happen are wide receiver, whether that’s a more notable genuine WR2 like Odell Beckham or DJ Chark or a more serviceable guy like Mack Hollins or Mecole Hardman. Cornerback still needs addressing, whether bringing Shelley back or signing someone like Rock Ya-Sin, Sean Murphy-Bunting, or Shaquill Griffin.

The coming days should be full of intrigue as the futures of Dalvin Cook and Za’Darius Smith are still up in the air and Minnesota looks to add more players. Buckle up.