Don’t Panic about Vikings Pace in Free Agency

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah who was hired in January 2022 after the club parted ways with Rick Spielman. The Vikings finished 13-4 in Adofo-Mensah's first season as general manager.

The impressively-named “legal tampering” segment of NFL free agency begins on March 13th, with players formally allowed to sign on dotted lines two days later, March 15th.

The Minnesota Vikings must first clear cap space to participate in the league’s open market, sitting about $24 million over the cap as of February 21st. This predicament occurs annually for the Vikings, at least in the last half-decade, so 2023 feels like nothing new.

Don’t Panic about Vikings Pace in Free Agency

But once general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski get the salary cap clean, the Vikings will examine free agents for the 2023 depth — many likely arriving to play defense.

Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed last year, mandating change if the team wants to be considered a serious Super Bowl contender.

Don't Panic about Vikings
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And when free agency begins, it’s vital for Vikings fans to consider the pace. The team isn’t going to sign four big-name players on March 13th. It doesn’t work that way. In fact, last year, the franchise was methodical, patient, and even had large gaps with player movement.

Last March was Adofo-Mensah’s first hurrah as general manager, and there is now one offseason of sample size to study. Here’s how the timeline panned out one year ago:

  • 3/13 – Kirk Cousins extended
  • 3/14 – Greg Joseph tendered
  • 3/14 – Harrison Phillips signed
  • 3/14 – Michael Pierce joined BAL
  • 3/15 – Jordan Hicks signed
  • 3/17 – Harrison Smith restructured
  • 3/18 – Adam Thielen restructured
  • 3/18 – Danielle Hunter’s deal left as-is
  • 3/22 – Sean Mannion re-signed
  • 3/22 – Za’Darius Smith signed
  • 3/24 – Chandon Sullivan signed
  • 3/28 – Jesse Davis signed
  • 3/28 – Nate Hairston signed
  • 3/30 – Patrick Peterson re-signed
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Ergo, transactions will transpire steadily from March 11th (or so) until the end of the month, but the process isn’t immune to breaks. In 2022, no new notable players joined the team from March 15th to 22nd. Harrison Phillips and Jordan Hicks kicked off the festivities, and then Adofo-Mensah relaxed via new personnel for a week. Thereafter, Za’Darius Smith backed out of a deal with the Baltimore Ravens and became a Viking. But there was a seven-day gap.

Vikings Probably Have 1 Full
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports.

Fast forward to this offseason, and a few notable events have gone down. 2022 defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was let go four days after the team lost in the playoffs to the New York Giants, and Brian Flores was hired 18 days later for Donatell’s job after a thorough search.

Last weekend, the Vikings re-signed defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga and offensive tackle Blake Brandel to incredibly affordable one-year deals. Those depth players are in the saddle for 2023.

This week, the Vikings had a February 20th deadline to extend defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and fully spread out his $7.5 million cap penalty in a manner of their choosing. That day passed, and nothing happened.

Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

But on Wednesday, two days after the deadline, ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted, “Vikings DT Dalvin Tomlinson’s deal was set to void in recent days, which would have pushed $7.5M of dead money onto their 2023 cap. The team & Tomlinson agreed to move the void date to 3/15. This buys more time for a possible extension that avoids all $7.5M hitting the 2023 cap.”

The verdict? The Vikings offseason is already underway — from Flores’ arrival, Tonga and Brandel returning, to a delay on the Tomlinson decision.

The Vikings will release players, sign brand new ones, and restructure a few contracts. But it won’t all happen in 48 hours. Brace yourself for 2-3 weeks’ worth of transactions.

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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