Vikings Said Goodbye to 7 Players in Free Agency
With a handful of more likely signings on new teams’ dotted lines in the coming weeks, the Minnesota Vikings have already said goodbye to seven veteran players.
This offseason has reflected general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s desire to become more financially nimble, cutting ties with expensive [debatably overpaid] veterans and holding off commitment to QB1 Kirk Cousins beyond 2023. The Vikings will contend for a Super Bowl in 2023 — you better believe it — but also have eyes on the future, bringing Adofo-Mensah’s competitive rebuild philosophy to living color.
Vikings Said Goodbye to 7 Players in Free Agency
These players have ventured elsewhere as of March 24th (or are guaranteed not to return) in alphabetical order.
1. Cameron Dantlzer (WAS)
Dantzler didn’t technically hit free agency. The Vikings waived the Mississippi State alumnus, and the Washington Commanders gobbled him — and his remaining contract dollars.
Jettisoning Dantler will remain a head-scratcher until Adofo-Mensah fortifies the CB room because he wasn’t expensive and — just like that — the Vikings have CB depth concerns.
It probably had something to do with Dantzler getting benched by back-to-back coaching staffs.
2. Eric Kendricks (LAC)
A heartbreaker to be sure, Kendricks joined his old pal and Vikings coach Jeff Howard, the Chargers linebackers coach in Tinseltown. Howard was a Vikings defensive assistant from 2013 to 2019, and Kendricks played in Minnesota from 2015 to 2022. The two overlapped.
Kendricks signed a deal for two years and $13.25 million. Thankfully for his sake, he’ll contend for the postseason so long as Justin Herbert is the QB1. He’ll also travel to U.S. Bank Stadium in 2023 as an opponent.
3. Patrick Peterson (PIT)
Peterson said about a half dozen times that he wanted to return with the 2023 Vikings, but it just didn’t come together. Now, he’ll play for his cousin and podcast partner Bryant McFadden’s old team, hoping the Steelers conduct an unforeseen playoff push in Kenny Pickett’s second year.
He signed for two years and $14 million, meaning Pittsburgh is probably Peterson’s last hurrah. The future Hall of Famer stated before the 2022 season that he wanted to play for three more years and signed for the final two with Mike Tomlin’s team.
4. Duke Shelley (LV)
Shelley wound up costing Las Vegas $1.3 million for one season. It will remain a mystery — maybe forever — why the Vikings didn’t want a Shelley reunion.
The man ranked as the league’s fourth-best cornerback in 2022 per Pro Football Focus, and Minnesota wouldn’t pay to see if it was lightning in a bottle. The circumstance is strange, especially for the Vikings general manager, who preaches ‘value’ every time he speaks into a microphone.
5. Irv Smith (TBD)
Smith could actually return to the Vikings, but it’s an extreme longshot. He hasn’t signed anywhere yet. However, Adofo-Mensah signed TE2 Josh Oliver from the Baltimore Ravens on free agency’s first date, making the odds of a Smith return to the Vikings like 1% with T.J. Hockenson and Oliver hogging all the snaps.
In the end, Smith was a poor draft pick by former boss Rick Spielman, although it didn’t feel like it at the time.
6. Adam Thielen (CAR)
Equipped with a full box of Kleenex, Vikings fans watched Thielen leave after a glorious and memorable decade. The Panthers will pay him $25 million over three years to provide WR1-WR2 duty alongside Andy Dalton and the 1st overall draft pick from the end of April.
D.J. Chark signed in Carolina five days later, so the Panthers have a decent WR twosome.
Don’t rule out a Thielen-Vikings reunion in 2024 or 2025. It actually seems reasonable for such a folkloric performer to end his journey where it started.
7. Dalvin Tomlinson (CLE)
Tomlinson was handed rubies by the Cleveland Browns, a franchise that struggled to stop the run in 2022. For four years and $57 million, Tomlinson will patrol the guts of Cleveland’s defensive line, and that pricetag was wildly too rich for the Vikings blood.
Tomlinson spent two years in Minnesota — he was a wonderful defender — and the Vikings will now pivot to Khyiris Tonga for NT duties. Tonga costs $940,000 per year, while Tomlinson will check in at $14.25 million.
Kris Boyd (CB), Bisi Johnson (WR), and Chandon Sullivan (CB) are also free agents but returning to the Vikings can’t be ruled out.
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).
All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.
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