The Vikings’ 4 Best Moves of the Offseason — a Look Back

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A rollercoaster season, the Minnesota Vikings began 1-4 in 2023, later righting the ship to the tune of a 6-5 record by Thanksgiving and a spot in the NFC’s No. 6 playoff seed as of November 25th.

Next, the purple team hosts the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, a team it has defeated five times consecutively.

The Vikings’ 4 Best Moves of the Offseason — a Look Back

And with the postseason in plain sight, the Vikings conducted some wonderful moves to arrive at their current standing in an offseason spanning from last January to early September.

These were the Vikings’ top four offseason moves, with the advantage of hindsight after Week 11. They’re ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = best offseason move).

4. Letting Veterans Walk

Moves of the Offseason
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

Men like Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Irv Smith, and Eric Kendricks were dropped by Minnesota months ago, and some folks — mainly a national audience — thought the Vikings were “tanking” accordingly. Those theories never made sense because the releases were money-motivated, but they caused the masses to believe Minnesota wasn’t taking 2023 all that seriously.

Well, as it turned out, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was right about most departures. Dalvin Cook, for example, very vividly wasn’t worth the $14 million cap hit he was scheduled to inflict against the Vikings’ ledger. Adam Thielen, while playing well in Carolina, wasn’t worth the $20 million cap hit, either.

The “competitive rebuild” preached by Adofo-Mensah wasn’t wacky after all.

3. Signing UDFA LB Ivan Pace

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Every NFL team — the Vikings included — flubbed the seven-round draft process by not taking the plunge on Ivan Pace, a rookie linebacker from the University of Cincinnati.

Draft scouts claimed he was too short, and while he’s about an inch too tiny for prototypical inside linebacker stature, it doesn’t matter. Fast forward to late November, and Pace is the NFL’s top rookie linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus, and 19th-best LB overall in the sport.

Not bad.

Adofo-Mensah found him via undrafted free agency, Vikings fans and players said all summer the man would ball out, and then that happened. Badda bing.

2. Drafting Jordan Addison

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The dude is a stud; this opinion is already established, ironclad, and cannot be erased.

In fact, it’s thanks to Addison that the Vikings’ wide receiver corps remained afloat after Justin Jefferson’s injury — can you imagine the doldrums without him? T.J. Hockenson has, of course, performed marvelously, but Minnesota has needed every ounce of Addison and his touchdown friendliness to turn the season around after Jefferson’s departure.

Too, drafting Addison last April felt like an offense-laden perk when the team arguably needed defensive talent. Several months later, the man is a necessity.

1. Hiring Brian Flores

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

Let’s see some statistics do the talking.

Vikings Defense,
2022 vs. 2023:

2022: 27th
2023: 9th

Yards Allowed —
2022: 31st
2023: 13th

Points Allowed —
2022: 30th
2023: 15th

This Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell hire turned the Vikings’ defense around in a single offseason. And it’s largely because of Flores’ leadership that Minnesota started winning games when Justin Jefferson hit injured reserve.

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