3 Huge Vikings Items Remain a Mystery

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

After two days of “legal tampering,” NFL free agency formally begins Wednesday at 3:00 pm CST, a fancy way of saying everything becomes official.

Dozens of players have already reached agreements with the new squads, and the Minnesota Vikings have onboarded Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints,) and Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals).

3 Huge Vikings Items Remain a Mystery

While those moves are impactful and, to a degree, unexpected, three huge items remain mysterious for the 2023 Vikings. These are those.

1. Harrison Smith’s Future

3 Huge Vikings Items
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Harrison Smith is the longest-tenured player on the Vikings current roster — by about three years — and may or may not be back in 2023. He’s expensive, and the team’s front office reportedly wants Smith to restructure or take a pay reduction.

Players naturally don’t enjoy paycuts — why would they? — so this matter has vacillated for nearly a week.

Smith seems like a marvelous candidate to patrol the backend of a Brian Flores 2023 defense, but his $19.1 million cap number is just mammoth. At the moment, Vikings fans are hanging on the thread of will he stay or will he go?

There’s also this legendary tweet to amplify the mini-saga:

2. Dalvin Cook — Traded or Staying?

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Amid trade rumors in the last week, perhaps involving the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers, Cook tweeted this Tuesday:

A personal highlight video does little to provide hints about his 2023 future because general managers won’t be persuaded by touchdown montages in The Digital Age. Everyone already knows Cook has been ultra-productive in six years as a pro.

Cook’s cap number is $14.4 million, a behemoth sum for a running back — especially when a “Moneyball” general manager is Cook’s boss. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah doesn’t seem like the type of personality to pay RBs megabucks in back-to-back seasons. But we shall see.

Like Smith above and the Prince tweet, signs appear to hint at a Cook return in 2023.

3. Za’Darius Smith Cut, Traded, or Neither?

2022 Vikings Basic Betting Odds Tracker
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

Smith tweeted last Thursday, “I just want to say ‘Thank you!’ to Skol Nation for an amazing season & experience! Thank you to all of my Teammates, Coaches & the entire Minnesota Vikings Organization! ?.”

A true-blue goodbye, nothing has happened since regarding his future. He could be traded, outright released, or reverse course and return to Minnesota. The plot thickened when Marcus Davenport signed Monday night. Davenport is on deck to take Smith’s job.

This Smith is likely heading elsewhere, but it’s a wee bit odd that the Vikings haven’t pulled the trigger yet. The 49ers have been rumored as a landing spot if Smith is traded.

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.