ESPN Updates Vikings Post-FA Power Ranking

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The Minnesota Vikings added free-agent newcomers added 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) in the last two and a half weeks.

Cameron Dantzler (CB, Commanders), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns), Duke Shelley (CB, Raiders), and Irv Smith (TE, Bengals) left the club.

ESPN Updates Vikings Post-FA Power Ranking

Thirteen players from the 2022 team re-signed, including C Garrett Bradbury, K Greg Joseph, FB C.J. Ham, and RB Alexander Mattison. So, the splashy part of free agency is mostly complete.

And according to ESPN, the Vikings are close to as-is regarding the NFL’s pecking order. While other power-ranking outfits dropped the Vikings a handful of spots, ESPN placed the Vikings this week as the league’s 11th-best team, down two spots from the previous edition at No. 9.

ESPN Updates Vikings
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ESPN’s Kevin Seifert explained the Vikings No. 11 ranking and weighed in on the decision to retain the aforementioned Mattison at running back, “NFL teams don’t like to pay running backs, and the Vikings don’t often give guaranteed money in a second season of a contract, so this deal made knowledgeable observers sit up and take notice. Mattison had a career-low 89 touches behind Dalvin Cook in 2022 and seemed primed to find a new opportunity elsewhere.”

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

“The Vikings’ decision to pay Mattison not only shows their confidence in him but also indicates a changing of the guard over the next two seasons. At that salary level, there is no way Mattison will be a mere backup in 2023. He’s going to have a major role in the Vikings’ offense, one way or the other,” Seifert surmised about Mattison as the possible RB1, which he called the ‘top under-the-radar move.’ dropped the Vikings from No. 10 to No. 16 last week in its power rankings, the second-largest plunge in the NFL.

Minnesota has essentially committed to a slogan this offseason: make the roster younger, leaner, faster, and more affordable. Thirty-five Vikings players, including quarterback Kirk Cousins, are scheduled for free agency in 2024, so 2023 has the feel of one last hurrah with the roster as currently constructed.

Ranking the Vikings' Needs Prior to Free Agency
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The Vikings finished 13-4 in 2022, won the NFC North for the first time in five years, and accomplished the feats on the spine of the NFL’s sixth-worst defense per DVOA, the 30th-ranked defense via points allowed, and 31st-ranked group per yards allowed. Minnesota was thoroughly exposed by the New York Giants meh offense in the Wildcard Round of the 2022 playoffs and fired defensive bossman Ed Donatell four days later. Brian Flores was hired about a month after Donatell’s dismissal to lead the charge in 2023 on defense, so fans will learn in five months if Donatell was “the problem.”

Next up? The 2023 NFL Draft — 28 days away. Minnesota has roster needs at cornerback, off-ball linebacker, wide receiver, and arguably interior defensive line.

The Vikings are predicted to finish in second place behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North next year, according to oddsmakers. The Lions ranked ninth in ESPN’s power rankings.

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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