The Vikings Almost Let the Fish Get Off the Hook

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the week, Minnesota fans collectively breathed a sigh of relief: the team had finally acquiesced by signing Dalton Risner. A process that was months in the making finally materialized in an official partnership between player and team. Presumably, Kirk Cousins is happy.

An initial round with the Minnesota media suggests that the Vikings almost let the fish get off the hook. Of, put differently, the Vikings almost lost their chance to officially welcome Risner to Minnesota.

The veteran lineman explained that as many 16 teams — half of the NFL — expressed some interest in his services. With a huge smile on his face, Risner offered a peppy presser, revealing a jovial personality that is sure to endear him to fans. FOX9’s Jeff Wald made a similar observation, noting that “Risner is quickly going to become a fan-favorite in Minnesota” since he “was absolute gold today.”

The Vikings Almost Lost Dalton Risner

Make no mistake: the Vikings need help along the offensive line.

Aug 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Dalton Risner (66) in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

Another team had serious interest in bringing Risner to town, so Minnesota almost missed their shot: “I had a visit with a team last night that I was going to sign a deal with […] the Vikings swooped in and now I’m out here in purple.” Logically enough, a reporter asks which team was going to sign him and Risner deflected, showing that he’s nimble (which can be a major asset for an offensive lineman): “I don’t know, man, you guys are trying to get me in trouble.” Shortly thereafter, he notes that he’s looking to avoid an angry call from his agent.

The offensive lineman also suggested that the intention to sign with a different team may have impacted Minnesota’s desire to get a deal done.

Other Free Agents
Nov 1, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner (66) in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Frankly, the timing of the signing isn’t ideal. In a perfect world, the Vikings would have had the foresight to onboard Risner earlier, leading to a deal during the offseason. Had that occurred, Minnesota would have a guard fully capable of getting into game action since he’s already familiar with the playbook and his responsibilities.

The Vikings and their fans are hoping that it’s a better-late-than-never kind of situation.

Meanwhile, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pulled off trade #17 by bringing Cam Akers to town. His best statistical season happened last year when he turned 188 carries into 786 yards (4.2 average) and 7 TDs. For his efforts, PFF gave the running back a sparkling 80.7 grade. He’s still only 24 and was a 2nd-round pick back in 2020 (Risner was a 2nd rounder back in 2019).

Sep 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) hands the ball off to running back Cam Akers (3) during the second half against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

During his interview, Risner was fairly vague when it came to revealing what kind of role he’d have on Sunday. After all, the former Bronco is just getting into the building. The expectation should be that he’ll have his gear on but it remains to be seen if he can snatch a starting spot right away. If he does, all eyes will be on the right guard position.

Sunday’s game against the Chargers is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. CDT. Without Akers in the mix, the Vikings are sitting on roughly $9.6 million in cap space. Expect the cap space to dip below $9 million once the RB gets factored in.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.