5 Players the Vikings Will Miss the Most in 2023

Vikings Appear to Signal
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The Minnesota Vikings added newcomers Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), Dean Lowry (DT, Packers), Brandon Powell (WR, Rams), and Troy Reeder (LB, Chargers) in the last three weeks.

And, of course, because it’s the offseason, a handful of players departed.

5 Players the Vikings Will Miss the Most in 2023

Based on 2023 impact, these are the five players the Vikings will miss the most, ranked in ascending order (No. 5 = miss the least).

5. Adam Thielen (WR)

3 Popular Vikings Could
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New Team = Carolina Panthers

Thielen will thrive in Carolina for one main reason — targets.

Unless the Panthers draft a Jaxon Smith-Njigba type early in the draft, Thielen will receive more passing-game attention in North Carolina than he did with the Vikings.

He’ll be missed by the Vikings, indeed — but not because they’re incapable of replacing him. Let’s face it, folks. Thielen was Mr. Minnesota. The next WR2 won’t be that, no matter what happens.

Can you imagine watching NFL Redzone, with Thielen yanking in touchdowns with a big feline on his helmet? It’s comin’.

4. Eric Kendricks (LB)

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
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New Team = Los Angeles Chargers

Vikings fans will learn by October or so if Kendricks was truly becoming “washed” in Minnesota — or if Ed Donatell was the problem.

Kendricks is on the menu to start in Los Angeles, his old stomping grounds, and at age 31, he should have a few seasons left in the tank. He certainly wasn’t the 2019 version of himself for the 2021 or 2022 Vikings, but he could rekindle some of his prime with a change of scenery.

And it’s not like the Vikings have Pro Bowl linebackers taking over for Kendricks. Hell, he’s the Pro Bowl LB.

3. Patrick Peterson (CB)

Will Miss the Most
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New Team = Pittsburgh Steelers

Peterson tried his damndest to keep the Vikings secondary glued together last year and did a commendable job at it. Despite saying about a dozen times he wanted to return for Year 3 in Minnesota, he skedaddled to the Steelers for Year 13 of his Hall of Fame career.

Minnesota will miss his leadership in a CB room currently barren of talent. If the Vikings corners struggle in 2023, Vikings fans will keep a jaundiced eye on Peterson and this guy below.

2. Duke Shelley (CB)

Vikings Really Dropped
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New Team = Las Vegas Radiers

Shelley was the league’s fourth-best cornerback in 2022, per Pro Football Focus, and the Vikings didn’t care.

They let him walk to Sin City, refusing to match his $1.3 million salary. Remember that famous chip Shelley habitually kept on his shoulder, filled with ire toward the Chicago Bears for not believing in him? Well, the hell with the Bears — now Shelley gets to use the Vikings as chalkboard material.

Moreover, the Vikings play Shelley’s Raiders in their house this season. If Shelley replicates his 2022 production in Las Vegas, it will look like total malpractice in hindsight that Minnesota wouldn’t grant him an affordable second act.

Shelley + Daniel Carlson on the same team should be fun for Vikings fans to roll their eyes at.

1. Dalvin Tomlinson (DT)

Vikings Lose a Top
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New Team = Cleveland Browns

Listen: it’s a good thing that the Vikings didn’t pay Tomlinson a four-year, $57 million contract like the Browns.

But the team will still miss the big man.

Tomlinson was as steady as defensive players get, never firing up bad games and never tearing offensive lines apart. He was just a really good defensive tackle. You know what you’re getting with Tomlinson — like a .265 hitter in MLB.

Khyiris Tonga or a rookie to be named later will take over his job in purple, and we shall see if that player makes everyone miss Tomlinson.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.