5 Vikings Who Could Be Entering Final Season with Team

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K.J. Osborn

Unless the state of play oddly changes, the Minnesota Vikings 2024 offseason will have more movement than a fidget spinner.

Over three dozen current Vikings are scheduled for free agency next March, dwarfing the 19 or so on the menu a few months ago during this offseason. Get your popcorn ready.

5 Vikings Who Could Be Entering Final Season with Team

Accordingly, five notable Vikings players could enter their final season with the club when September rolls around. These are those men, ranked in alphabetical order.

Note: Players like Khyiris Tonga and Jordan Hicks, for example, could also fit the criteria, but this list is reserved for ‘big names.’

1. Ezra Cleveland (LG)

Be Entering Final
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Perhaps the most likely on the list to stay after 2023, Cleveland is slated to hit free agency next March. And he falls into a weird Vikings trap through no fault of his own. Cleveland is a decent guard who blocks for the run significantly better than he protects quarterbacks. It’s been a Vikings theme for interior linemen for about a decade. Minnesota was beset by terrible guard play for a handful of seasons, so when Cleveland came along and wasn’t horrible, he stood out as a shining star.

But he may not be worth a gigantic contract. That’ll be for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to decide, presumably next February or March. If Cleveland and Adofo-Mensah’s pricetags are worlds apart, the Boise State alumnus will vamoose in nine months.

2. Kirk Cousins (QB)

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VikingsVille blinked, and Kirk Daniel Cousins is inside a contract year. He is not scheduled to play for the Vikings after the upcoming season. For the first time since 2018, the club has an exit ramp paved if it wishes to end the Cousins Era.

Of course, men who toss 4,000+ passing yards and 30+ touchdowns per year don’t grow on trees, but at Cousins’ routine annual asking price, Minnesota should have probably advanced beyond the NFC’s Divisional Playoff Round by now.

Should the Vikings duck out of the postseason prematurely — or don’t reach the party at all — Adofo-Mensah will likely consult the 2024 NFL Draft for ‘his guy’ at QB1 and let Cousins walk.

3. Danielle Hunter (OLB)

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The likeliest option on this list to be moot before too long, Hunter’s contract expires after this season. The Pro Bowl EDGE rusher is only on tap for about $5 million in ‘new money’ this year, which can’t sit well with Hunter or his people.

In all likelihood, the Vikings will extend Hunter sometime soon, and he can leave this ominous group. Expect the franchise to add three or so years onto Hunter’s deal, connecting him to the Vikings through age 31 or 32.

However, if they don’t extend Hunter, ‘he gone’ after 2023, at least according to his existing contract.

4. K.J. Osborn (WR)

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The Vikings drafted Jordan Addison on April 27th, starting the way-too-early scrawl of Osborn’s purple obituary. Adofo-Mensah didn’t draft Addison to play WR3; 1st-Rounders should ascend depth charts to WR1 or WR2.

Even if Osborn plays like a madman — in a good way — he’ll probably hit free agency next year and swing a fat contract from a different team. He has everything to prove in 2023, a chip on his shoulder with Addison peering at his job, and is auditioning for a large contract.

The big-money payday, though, may be with a different team.

5. Harrison Smith (SS)

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Smith made it crystal-clear this offseason — money talks — expressing his desire to stay with the Vikings by accepting a paycut. He’ll likely be a Viking for life, but the ‘problem’ is age. Smith is 34 right now and turns 35 next February.

Fans shouldn’t be so worried about his free agency but instead the prospect of retirement. He’s nearing ‘the age.’

Of course, his performance rarely dwindles, so Smith could play for a few more years. Still, you’ve been warned — right now age-wise is when hard-hitting safeties slow down, if not before age 34.

He could realistically retire after this season.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.