7 Vikings Players Guaranteed Not to Return in 2023: VT Predictions

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VikingsTerritory writers were asked to provide one prediction apiece for “players guaranteed not to be back in 2023.”

We obviously kept the names somewhat high-profile, as it wouldn’t be a bold prediction to assume someone like Greg Mancz won’t return.

7 Vikings Players Guaranteed Not to Return in 2023: VT Predictions

Ten VikingsTerritory writers weighed in with seven different candidates for departure.

1. Patrick Peterson (CB)

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Prediction Maker = Will Goodwin

With a combination of free agent status and ever-growing age, Patrick Peterson’s future in Minnesota is in jeopardy. For a team that has loved having his veteran presence, savvy, and ability to predict when his next interception will come, moving on to young and explosive cornerbacks will be the way of the future.

Brian Flores brings an aggressive defensive approach predicated on playing tight man-to-man coverage with his corners. As evidenced by the Vikings first defensive play of the season, P2’s ability to run stride-for-stride with receivers has greatly diminished. It’s time to move on.

2. Dalvin Tomlinson (DL)

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Prediction Maker = Kyle Joudry

Truth be told, I don’t love offseason guarantees. Since beginning this whole writing thing, I’ve been continually reminded that football (and sports more generally) is an unpredictable beast, a monster that refuses to be tamed.

That brief word of misgiving aside, I’ll send out my best guess: Dalvin Tomlinson doesn’t return to Minnesota.

No one can be satisfied with how the Vikings defense played. Now, Tomlinson happened to be one of the bright spots, but that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to find himself in a purple uniform once again.

The veteran DT is likely looking for a nice payday, and the Vikings are heading in a new direction under Brian Flores. A younger, penetrating DT who can specialize in attacking the QB may be more appealing to the Vikings’ new DC.

3. Greg Joseph (K)

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Prediction Maker = Josh Frey

The Vikings have had an up-and-down tenure with Greg Joseph. They didn’t lose games because of him in 2022, but he certainly didn’t make things easier in some of their games.

Combine that with a 2021 season that wasn’t exactly stellar, either, and the Vikings will be in the market for another kicker for next season.

4. C.J. Ham (FB)

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Prediction Maker = Mitch Massman

The big name guaranteed not to be back in 2023 is C.J. Ham. Ham is a fan favorite, but his utilization completely collapsed in the transition from the wide-zone scheme under Zimmer to Kevin O’Connell’s offense. With a cap hit of $3.8 million, it’s difficult to imagine a need for Ham in 2023.

5. Dalvin Cook (RB)

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Prediction Maker = Ted Schwerzler

Dalvin Cook has a scheduled cap hit of $14 million in 2022, and that is too rich for the blood of a general manager who preaches value.

t6. Jordan Hicks (LB)

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Prediction Maker = Dustin Baker

Jordan Hicks was good-not-great in 2022 and is on the wrong side of 30. He filled his role precisely as asked — keep the chair warm for a rookie to take over in 2023.

That rookie is Brian Asamoah, who will experience his sophomore campaign as a starting off-ball linebacker.

It’s time.

t6. Jordan Hicks (LB)

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Prediction Maker = Janik Eckardt

Releasing the linebacker will free up $5 million in cap space for the cap-strapped Vikings. 2022 rookie Brian Asamoah will be in line to start after already taking up some of Hicks’ snaps at the end of last season.

t7. Eric Kendricks (LB)

7 Vikings Players
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Prediction Maker = Adam New

There are so many names that you can make a case for the Vikings being better off cutting ties with. With cap space needing to be created, you can be sure at least some will be gone. The most obvious candidate is Eric Kendricks.

Kendricks signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension in 2018. The faith shown in him by the Vikings with a first-team All-Pro season in 2019, backed up by an equally impressive 2020 season. At that time, Kendricks was rightly in the conversation for best linebacker in the league.

Unfortunately, since then, injuries and decline have set it, and with Kendricks in the last year of his contract, there’s no room for the Vikings to maneuver — an extension should not be on the agenda.

Kendricks has a cap hit this year of $11.43 million, with Minnesota able to make a huge saving of $9.5 million by releasing/trading Kendricks. It’s a no-brainer.

t7. Eric Kendricks (LB)

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Prediction Maker = Ali Siddiqui

With the Vikings current cap situation, they will have some huge decisions. Some of those may involve saying goodbye to some of their veterans. Releasing Kendricks would save the team $9.5 million. He took a step back this year, and the extra cap space would really come in handy.

t7. Eric Kendricks (LB)

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Prediction Maker = Cole Smith

The big-name Viking guaranteed not to return in 2023 is Eric Kendricks. Once known for his ability to fly all over the field, Kendricks lost a step or two in 2022. Ed Donatell’s scheme may not have helped, but it was obvious that Kendricks was overmatched when moving sideline-to-sideline.

His contract is set to expire following the 2023 season, but if he were to get cut this off-season, the Vikings would only take a cap hit of $1.9 million.

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.