Revenge: Vikings Will Face 4 Guys in 2023 Who Just Left Team

The Vikings 1 Standout
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Duke Shelley (20) intercepts a pass intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool (10) during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL will release the 2023 schedule in about five weeks, and when the Minnesota Vikings peak at the agenda, they’ll see four familiar friends.

Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), Dean Lowry (DT, Packers), Brandon Powell (WR, Rams), and Troy Reeder (LB, Chargers) joined the organization via free agency, and seven players departed.

Revenge: Vikings Will Face 4 Guys in 2023 Who Just Left Team

Minnesota won’t play against Cameron Dantzler (Washington Commanders), Patrick Peterson (Pittsburgh Steelers), or Dalvin Tomlinson (Cleveland Browns) in 2023 unless it’s the postseason or Super Bowl, but they will face these four former Vikings.

1. Eric Kendricks

Face 4 Guys
Aug 1, 2016; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) walks to the afternoon session of training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Los Angeles Chargers
Game Location:
U.S. Bank Stadium

Don’t look now, but Eric Kendricks will start for the Chargers. He was signed at a price tag that suggests starting linebacking duty, and the longtime Viking will play outside of purple clothes for the first time ever. Kendricks was a Viking for eight tremendous seasons, even earning All-Pro accolades in 2019.

Kendricks seemed surprised this week that he’ll play his old team so soon, citing the Football Gods.

2. Duke Shelley

Vikings Really Dropped
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Duke Shelley (20) celebrates a defensive pass breakup during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

New Team: Las Vegas Raiders
Game Location:
Allegiant Stadium

Remember how Shelley played with a chip on his shoulder because the Chicago Bears “didn’t want him?” Well, now he’ll do that for the Raiders, with his ire aimed at the Vikings.

Minnesota curiously didn’t re-sign Shelley for 2023 after the cornerback fired up a standout and quasi-otherwordly performance in 2022. Shelley is tentatively scheduled to start in Las Vegas, joining famous ex-Viking Daniel Carlson who carved out a nice little career following an abrupt flop in Minnesota.

3. Irv Smith Jr.

Must Have Back
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) embraces Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. (84) at the end of the game between Miami Dolphins and the Minnesota Vikings at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Game Location:
Paycor Stadium

The Vikings traded for T.J. Hockenson on November 1st, 2022, and at that precise moment, Smith became a short-timer. Hockenson immediately transformed Minnesota’s offense, rendering Smith unnecessary, a sad fate for a once-promising draft prospect.

Smith played decently at times as a Viking but encountered injuries in 2021 and 2022 when he was supposed to finally become the TE1.

Now, on his turf, he’ll play against the Vikings sometime in 2023. It never hurts to have Joe Burrow on your side.

4. Adam Thielen
Nov 16, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) scores a touchdown in the first quarter against Chicago Bears cornerback Buster Skrine (24) at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team: Carolina Panthers
Game Location:
Bank of America Stadium

The weirdest of them all, Minnesota will take on Adam Thielen’s Carolina Panthers sometime this season. The Vikings approached Thielen for a contractual restructure this offseason, but the Minnesota native kept the guaranteed Vikings money, examined the free-agent lay of the land, and joined Andy Dalton in Carolina.

The Panthers will draft a quarterback with the first overall pick in three weeks, and Thielen will help that man develop while winding down his own career.

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).

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