There Will Be 4 Major Offseason Topics in Vikings Orbit

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Expectations were high for a team coming off a 13-4 season, although some of those wins were fluky. The Vikings returned most of their 2022 roster besides some aging and expensive veterans. Once Kirk Cousins got hurt, those expectations dipped drastically, as nobody expects a team with a backup quarterback to make noise in the postseason.

There Will Be 4 Major Offseason Topics in Vikings Orbit

There Will Be 4 Major Offseason Topics in Vikings Orbit
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Now sitting at a 7-7 record at the cusp of the playoff picture, it is unclear when and how the season ends. A playoff qualification must be considered a win without the starting quarterback. Regardless of the remaining results in the campaign, the upcoming offseason will be a fascinating one as four huge storylines are coming up.

1. Who Will Be the Defensive Coordinator?

Brian Flores was hired to overhaul the horrendous defensive unit after the dismissal of Ed Donatell. Most folks expected the unit to improve slightly, but with the limited resources, nobody thought Flores could even sniff the top ten.

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However, Flores took a defense with suspect talent, worked some witchcraft, and created an inventive defense with an unprecedented combination of three-man rushes and blitzes, lifting the defense into the top quarter in some of the top metrics like EPA/Play.

Of course, that brilliance will backfire for the franchise in the next head coaching hire cycle when Flores undoubtedly will have some suitors, although a pending lawsuit against the NFL and an already failed stint as the head coach of the Dolphins could hurt his chances.

With no clear successor on the staff, the Vikings must be creative in case of a one-and-done scenario and find someone who either continues to run Flores’ scheme or brings his successful system with him to Minnesota.

2. What Does JJ’s Contract Look Like?

The Vikings have the face of their franchise under contract for one more season before Justin Jefferson’s contract expires. An extension is a no-brainer for a player of his caliber. In the 2023 offseason, the decision-makers could not find common ground with their star, but he is still fully expected to stay with the organization for years to come.

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Tyreek Hill is currently the best-paid wideout in football, as he is getting $30 million a season. Jefferson is half a decade younger and should draw an even higher number. The amount of guarantees and the duration of the deal will also play a big role in the negotiations.

All parties involved — Kevin O’Connell, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, and Jefferson — have always stated that they want to get a deal done, and that should be the expectation for the offseason.

3. Does Danielle Hunter Stay?

The previous two points will certainly have an impact on this point. The identity of the new defensive coordinator and his strategy of building a defense decides if the Vikings will have an interest in re-signing the 29-year-old defender, and the structure of Jefferson’s deal impacts if it is even a possibility from a financial standpoint.

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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) is sacked hard by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) in the second quarter of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Perhaps coming off his fourth Pro Bowl (the second straight), Hunter could command a huge salary, possibly coming close to Jefferson’s number. Nick Bosa makes $34 million per season, followed by T.J. Watt’s $28 million. Hunter’s new deal should be in that neighborhood.

Carrying the pass rush for the Vikings, they should do anything in their power to retain their scary linebacker to let him finish his career with the organization.

4. Who Will Quarterback the Vikings in 2024 and Beyond?

Like Hunter, Kirk Cousins is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. He has been with the team since 2018 and is a controversial figure. Some in the fanbase think he just doesn’t have what it takes to bring a Super Bowl to Minnesota; others believe the surroundings have just held him back.

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After six years with the organization, the Vikings have to make a decision. Do they want to keep a productive but 36-year-old quarterback (when the season kicks off) coming off a torn Achilles for at least another year, or is it time for a divorce to start a new era?

That question goes hand-in-hand with the decision to draft a quarterback to succeed the veteran. The regime will enter its third offseason and draft, and at some point, they must attach their names to a young franchise quarterback. They’ve been brought in for that, especially the offensive-minded head coach with a QB background.

They might do both: extend Cousins for another year or two and pick a passer in the upcoming draft. It will undoubtedly be the most important decision in the 2024 offseason for the Minnesota Vikings.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt