Chiefs Forced Vikings into Immediate Decision

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While the Minnesota Vikings were slight underdogs on Sunday, there was an opportunity for them to win the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. As has been the case multiple times this season, Kevin O’Connell’s squad was just close enough to tease ability with another loss being hung on the scoreboard. They are now presented with a crossroads.

Chiefs Forced Vikings into Immediate Decision

Sitting at 1-4 through the first five weeks of the 2023 NFL regular season, the Vikings aren’t going to make the playoffs. With the Detroit Lions already out to a 4-1 record, Minnesota simply isn’t cut from the same cloth as the NFC North leader. That doesn’t mean they must tank and entirely cast aside 2023, but figuring out how to move pieces is necessary.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has called this current process a competitive rebuild, and while the goal would be to remain winning games along the way, it’s clear that may need to become secondary in 2023. Unfortunately, Adofo-Mensah’s first draft class looks like a colossal bust. The group in 2023 appears a bit better, but the jury is out, and a verdict remains to be seen.

Chiefs Forced Vikings
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah & Kevin O’Connell Talk Free Agent Moves, Future at Quarterback & 2023 NFL Draft in Eagan, Minnesota, on April 13th, 2023. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell joined the organization in January and February 2022, respectively.

It is hard to really blow things up in the NFL. The trade market isn’t as robust as other sports due to salary cap and team-building ramifications, but Minnesota certainly has a piece to focus on. At this point, the front office has to know what they see as a vision for Kirk Cousins next season, and beginning to navigate that path is a must.

Cousins owns a full no-trade clause, so moving him would be entirely of his own volition. That said, he may find it disappointing to slog through a bad year, behind a struggling offensive line, with nothing to play for. Cousins could be approached about going to a winner in a contract season and helping to further pad his resume. The money will come no matter what, but he may prefer to play more meaningful games the rest of the way.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

This isn’t just about trading Cousins, though.

Justin Jefferson went down with a hamstring injury on Sunday and didn’t return to action. How much that impacts his ability going forward should impact the pieces that are moved around the roster. Any veterans on short-term deals need to be explored from a return standpoint, and shuffling playing time to developmental players is a must.

It’s unlikely that Jaren Hall will be a good NFL quarterback, but seeing him in game action prior to deciding on a quarterback in the first round of next year’s draft could be a necessary path. Minnesota should have a pick worthy of taking someone from a deep quarterback class, but the roster has plenty of holes to address elsewhere as well.

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At the end of the day, the Vikings focus on winning all but died against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Even while they lost by only one score, the fumble on the opening play largely embodied this season as a whole. Minnesota will have other victories this season, but they should be expected to be few and far between with an inconsequential nature.

Figuring out how to continue the rebuild and accelerate it for the year ahead is now the best use of the 2023 remaining regular season.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.