The 4 Big Vikings Rumblings at the Moment
NFL free agency began eight days ago, and for the Minnesota Vikings, 11 players re-signed as free agents, five departed, and four new players arrived. Those transactions are detailed here.
More moving and shaking is on the way, while some fascinating offseason theories are currently percolating.
The 4 Big Vikings Rumblings at the Moment
These are the four big rumblings pertaining to the Vikings as of March 20th, ranked in no particular order.
1. WR Mecole Hardman on the Radar
If the rumor mill is a reasonable indicator, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman could join the Vikings as a WR2 or WR3.
Vikings Central tweeted Monday, citing a credible Twin Cities reporter, “According to Darren Wolfson, the Vikings and FA WR Mecole Hardman have had ‘casual’ talks involving a contract. Nothing is imminent but Hardman is a burner and can take tops off of defenses.”
Along with D.J. Chark and Odell Beckham — more on him later — Hardman is one of the last potential WR2s on the open market if Minnesota doesn’t plan on using early rounds of April’s draft on Adam Thielen’s replacement.
Hardman won’t be crazy expensive, and the Vikings are evidently open to a free-agent relationship. He’s faster than sound and has registered 151 receptions for 2,088 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in his four-year career.
2. A Couple of Trades Perhaps on the Way
The Vikings probably won’t spend $20 million in cap money on the 2023 running back room, and pass rusher Za’Darius Smith tweeted two weeks ago that he’s done playing in Minnesota.
Something’s gotta give — and likely before the NFL draft in five weeks.
This means Dalvin Cook could be traded, and it felt like a deal with the Miami Dolphins nearly came together at this time last week. After it did not, Vikings bossman Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed RB2 Alexander Mattison for two years and $8 million. The Mattison re-signing intensified Cook trade rumors. Perhaps the Atlanta Falcons are fit.
On Smith, it’s only a matter of time before a) He rescinds his “goodbye” to Minnesota b) The Vikings trade him to an EDGE-needy team.
3. Dark Horse in the Lamar Jackson Sweepstakes
The juiciest of them all, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler linked the Vikings to Lamar Jackson’s pseudo free agency, and he likely didn’t do that on a whim.
Fowler substantiated the Jackson-to-Vikings theories. He set up the idea like this, “If for some reason the Aaron Rodgers trade would fall through — nobody expects that — they could pivot to Jackson. And then when you talk about good fits, I asked some executives around the league what teams would make sense. They mention Tennessee, who just cleared some cap space. They have a new GM Ran Carthon, who’s working on the roster. They could use a running quarterback; they have experience with that in the past.”
“And even a wild card like Minnesota. Kirk Cousins has one year left on his contract if they want to reestablish their identity there,” Fowler concluded.
Finding a way to offload Cousins, a player with a no-trade clause, while onboarding an ultra-expensive Jackson is one of the messiest offseason ideas to contemplate, but it is still achievable.
It all depends on how badly Minnesota wants a run-first quarterback for its pass-first offense.
4. In the Running for OBJ
The Vikings were at Odell Beckham’s open workout on March 10th, Vegas has Minnesota “on the list,” and Beckham won’t cost $20 million per season as once believed.
Plus, there’s always the nugget of the Vikings head coach as Beckham’s last offensive coordinator with the Rams. If that connection were not present, there wouldn’t be a Vikings-OBJ rumor mill.
Beckham tweeted last weekend, “I’m just so confused where the quote is from me that said I want 20…..😭🙄all I’m sayin is 4 AINT enough.”
The man doesn’t expect $20 million annually, as once thought, but he wants more than $4 million. So, if the Vikings want the 30-year-old, he’s gettable.
The Cowboys were a frontrunner to win the OBJ sweepstakes but have since traded for Brandin Cooks. That’s one team out of the way.
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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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