Vikings 2023 Offseason Plan Sharpens
Ten days of Minnesota Vikings free agency are in the books, and aside from an obvious and much-needed defensive reevaluation, the team’s offseason plan has sharpened.
Head coach Kevin O’Connell hired Brian Flores to lead the defense in 2023, replacing the exiting Ed Donatell, who spent just one season in Minnesota.
Vikings 2023 Offseason Plan Sharpens
Overall, in addition to defensive change, here’s the Vikings offseason agenda as it has come into focus.
1. Younger, Faster, More Affordable
Assuming Dalvin Cook and Za’Darius eventually depart the team via trade or otherwise — most Vikings fans expect it — the 2023 depth chart already has eight players on deck to start who are younger than their predecessors. Almost all are faster and more affordable, too. These are those men:
- Eventual WR2 Guy
- Alexander Mattison (RB)
- Khyiris Tonga (NT)
- Brian Asamoah (LB)
- Marcus Davenport (OLB)
- Byron Murphy (CB)
- The Other Starting CB
- Lewis Cine (FS)
Expensive, aging veterans left. Younger, faster, and cheaper options are in line to take over. The result is in your face.
2. One Last Ride with QB1
Kirk Cousins could still be extended at any moment, but that probably would’ve happened by now. Therefore, the Vikings quarterback is on the menu to start for one more season, with the option to be extended in March of 2024. We shall see.
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a rare opportunity to experience “the best of both worlds.” He can ride with and rely on Cousins’ 4,000+ passing yards and 30+ touchdowns, hoping to replicate last year’s spiffy 13-4 season while finding a successor in April’s draft. Smart franchises usually enact this plan. Let’s see if the Vikings do it.
Regardless, though, all signs point to Cousins’ probable last year in Minnesota.
3. Run the Ball
VikingsTerritory’s Janik Eckardt said it best on Twitter Wednesday. Minnesota has fired up all these measures this offseason:
🏈 Signing run-blocking TE
🏈 Extending the fullback
🏈 Re-signing Alexander Mattison
🏈 Re-signing run-blocking C
The Vikings ran the ball the third least last year, an unsurprising factoid with a former quarterback in his first year as a head coach. Someone whispered in his ear when the playoffs ended, “It’s okay to run the damn ball.”
Ergo, Minnesota’s offseason plan has reflected a run-the-ball mantra. And to be clear, this isn’t a return to the Mike Zimmer era but instead an emphasis on balanced playcalling.
4. Competitive Rebuild in the Flesh
The “are they rebuilding because Thielen and the gang left?” talker is stupid.
Adofo-Mensah has point-blank told anyone who will listen about his commitment to a “competitive rebuild” with the Vikings. He wants to “live in today and tomorrow.” It’s how teams like the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Kansas City Chiefs rebuild.
During his interview with Mark and Zygi Wilf, Adofo-Mensah would’ve disclosed this philosophy in the flesh, so it’s not like the Vikings owners are puppetmasters telling the young executive, “don’t you dare tear it all down and rebuild, pal.”
A competitive rebuild is Adofo-Mensah’s own personal motto, and it’s playing out in real time. Accept it.
Adofo-Mensah defined his ‘tanking policy’ to reporters at the NFL Combine, “People always talk about, ‘Just tank,’ and in this sport, I think it’s kind of unconscionable to do it for what these players put on the line for our sport.”
This is why he believes in the competitive rebuild strategy. If you’re preaching, “the Vikings are gearing up for 2024 and beyond, and 2023 is just a means to wrap up the Cousins era,” you’re blatantly ignoring words from the man in charge. That’s not what he’s doing. Minnesota will contend for a Super Bowl in 2023 — and 2024, 2025, and beyond.
5. Probably a WR or CB Early in Draft
Of course, Adofo-Mensah could shock the world and trade up for Will Levis, Anthony Richardson, or C.J. Stroud, but if he does not, he’s probably selecting a WR or CB with his first pick.
So far, the Vikings haven’t signed Odell Beckham or D.J. Chark, likely the last two viable WR2 options on the free-agent market. That means they could have eyes on Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), Quentin Johnston (TCU), Zay Flowers (Boston College), or Jordan Addison (USC) in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Otherwise, cornerback Deonte Banks (Maryland) or Cam Smith (South Carolina) are popular CB draft theories. It’s a safe bet to predict a WR or CB for the Vikings in Round 1 if Adofo-Mensah makes no splashy trade for a quarterback.
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.
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