12 Notable Vikings Left in 2023 — Here’s Where They Went

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Irv Smith Jr. (81) lines up for a drill during an off-season workout inside Paycor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday, June 14, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings signed several free agents, drafted six rookies, welcomed over a dozen undrafted free agents this offseason — and watched as about 12 notable veterans from the 2022 roster departed to new teams.

The franchise will look to follow Kevin O’Connell’s maiden voyage with a playoff trip in 2023 and perhaps a second consecutive NFC North crown.

12 Notable Vikings Left in 2023 — Here’s Where They Went

And of the 12 men who bolted for new NFL addresses, this is where everybody landed (in alphabetical order).

1. Kris Boyd (CB)

12 Notable Vikings
Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Arizona Cardinals
New Contract: 1 Year | $1.2 million
Roster Projection:
Backup CB | Special Teamer

Boyd will fight to make the 53-man roster in Arizona and probably end up replicating his Vikings role as a special teamer. He played tons of snaps on special teams for the 2022 Vikings and was labeled a special teams ace. In theory, Boyd could snag a starting cornerback gig in the desert, but it is a longshot.

2. Dalvin Cook (RB)

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: n/a
New Contract:
n/a
Roster Projection:
RB1-RB2

The Vikings parted ways with Cook over two months ago, and he remains a free agent. He’s been intertwisted in the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots rumor mills, but as of the start of the preseason, Cook awaits his next NFL home.

3. Cameron Dantzler (CB)

Week 16 Vikings Injury Report
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: n/a
New Contract:
n/a
Roster Projection:
n/a

Dantzler joined the Washington Commanders this offseason but was waived. He then latched onto the Buffalo Bills, got injured, and was waived.

He’s a true-blue free agent and, if healthy, can sign anywhere in the league.

4. Ben Ellefson (TE)

Veteran Viking Calls It
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Retired
New Contract:
n/a
Roster Projection:
n/a

Ellefson retired on June 1st after three seasons in the NFL.

5. Eric Kendricks (LB)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Los Angeles Chargers
New Contract: 2 Years | $13.2 million
Roster Projection:
Starting Off-Ball Linebacker

Kendricks will continue his starter’s streak in Los Angeles next to Kenneth Murray Jr. in the middle of the Chargers defense. Los Angeles selected Daiyan Henley from the 3rd Round of the draft to develop while Kendricks finishes out his career.

The Vikings will host Kendricks and his lightning bolt team at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 24th.

6. Patrick Peterson (CB)

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
New Contract: 2 Years | $14 million
Roster Projection:
CB1

The Steelers drafted Joey Porter Jr. to run with Peterson in 2023, and there probably isn’t a better teacher in the world for Porter Jr. Peterson should thrive and turn back the clock — again — in Mike Tomlin’s system.

7. Duke Shelley (CB)

watch against giants
Dawson Knox and Duke Shelley. © JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK.

New Team: Las Vegas Raiders
New Contract: 1 Year | $1.3 million
Roster Projection:
Roster Bubble CB

The Raiders spent no early-round draft capital on cornerbacks, a somewhat surprising development. They waited until Round 4 to draft Jakorian Bennett.

That’s good news for Shelley, who could perhaps before too long start in Las Vegas. And his team will play against the Vikings in Nevada on December 10th.

8. Irv Smith (TE)

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Irv Smith Jr. (81) walks between plays during a training camp practice at the Paycor Stadium practice field in downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

New Team: Cincinnati Bengals
New Contract: 1 Year | $1.7 million
Roster Projection:
TE1

Cincinnati fans are already pounding their chests about an Irv Smith breakout year, a phenomenon Vikings fans will know about because they, too, pounded their chests about an Irv Smith Jr. breakout year for four straight offseasons. The Vikings play at Smith’s Bengals on December 17th.

9. Za’Darius Smith (OLB)

Smith Unveils
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

New Team: Cleveland Browns
New Contract: Vikings Contract from 2022
, 3 Years | $42 million
Roster Projection:
Starting DE

Smith was reportedly unhappy the Vikings wouldn’t fire Ed Donatell during the 2022 season, souring his opinion on Minnesota. He then asked out of his contract — vocally saying goodbye on Twitter to Vikings fans — in March, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah sent him to Cleveland for draft picks in May.

10. Chandon Sullivan (CB)

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
New Contract: 1 Year | $1.2 million
Roster Projection:
Slot CB

Sullivan was one of the final former Vikings to sign elsewhere, inked by the Steelers during the 2023 NFL Draft. He’ll reunite with the aforementioned Peterson and fight for a starting slot CB job this preseason. If he scores defensive touchdowns in Pittsburgh, hopefully the referees don’t nullify them.

11. Adam Thielen (WR)

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Carolina Panthers
New Contract: 3 Years | $25 million
Roster Projection:
WR1

The Vikings had Thielen envisioned as a WR3 in 2023. He’s played WR2 for the last few years. In Carolina, he’ll be the WR1 to start 2023 with Bryce Young flinging the ball his way. The role and target load are precisely what Thielen wanted — a chance to prove he’s still got it.

12. Dalvin Tomlinson (DT)

This Draft Is Different Than Recent Vikings Drafts
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Cleveland Browns
New Contract: 4 Years | $57 million
Roster Projection:
Starting DT

Tomlinson returns to a 4-3 defensive system and is on tap to start in 2023. He’s one of the NFL’s best and most balanced defensive tackles, and at $57 million, he has to start. Minnesota will probably miss Tomlinson’s presence most of all free-agent departures.

He just wasn’t worth $14.2 million per season. At least not in a Brian Flores defense.


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.