Vikings Free Agency Week 2 | What to Know

Will Dalvin Cook Get on Track Against the Bears?
Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings said sayonara last week to Cameron Dantzler (CB, Commanders), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), and Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns), while onboarding Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), and Dean Lowry (DT, Packers).

And more free-agent excitement is afoot. The Vikings live in the worst salary cap spot leaguewide at the moment, but that can be rectified with a couple of trades or contractual restructures.

Vikings Free Agency Week 2 | What to Know

With the second wave of free agency up next, here’s what to know for the Vikings.

Dalvin + Za’Darius Trade Talk All the Buzz

Free Agency Week 2
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) celebrates after a sack in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints during an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Here’s the deal: Dalvin Cook and Za’Darius Smith will likely be traded before or during the 2023 NFL Draft. Cook’s scheduled cap hit is $14.1 million for 2023, a number probably too rich for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s blood.

And then Za’Darius Smith said goodbye to all of Minnesota on Twitter before free agency started, minus the actual part of the Vikings releasing the pass rusher.

Therefore, both are barreling toward a trade fate, as cutting either man would’ve happened by now. The Vikings reportedly tried to shop Cook to the Miami Dolphins last week, but Mike McDaniel’s team ultimately re-signed its existing RBs, Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert.

Cook and Smith trades could happen at any minute, including this week — or twist in the wind until the draft.

Duke Shelley Has to Go Somewhere

3 CBs Vikings
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

Minnesota needs one more startable cornerback to inspire confidence heading into 2023. For now, it’s newcomer Byron Murphy from the Arizona Cardinals, Andrew Booth, and Akayleb Evans. That isn’t a horrible threesome, but it’s missing something.

Something like a Duke Shelley. The upstart defender played out of his mind in 2022 and deserves a chance to prove it wasn’t “lightning in a bottle.” The Vikings should afford him the opportunity, especially because he won’t be crazy expensive.

Otherwise, he’ll sign elsewhere, and Vikings fans will watch from afar a la kicker Daniel Carlson in Las Vegas.

Another Big-Name Signing

Revealing Quote about
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

During free agency week No. 2 last year, Adofo-Mensah signed the aforementioned Smith and cornerback Chandon Sullivan. Both started in 2022. The 2023 offseason isn’t required to replicate 2022, but there’s a reasonable chance Adofo-Mensah will sign more players this week.

Another linebacker, cornerback, or wide receiver are positions to monitor. Sean Murphy-Bunting from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a particularly interesting slot corner.

WR Watch

Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) catches a touchdown pass against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Adofo-Mensah could also sign Odell Beckham or D.J. Chark for WR2 duty and be effectively done shaping the WR room for life after Adam Thielen. Yet, if no WR2-ish wide receivers arrive in free agency, then the Vikings are probably on deck to spend one of their first two picks on a wideout in April’s draft.

If none of that occurs, well, K.J. Osborn must be the WR2 of the future, a thesis wildly uncertain as of March 19th.

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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