3 Popular Vikings on “Cut List”

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The Minnesota Vikings will tweak their defensive personnel during the 2024 offseason, hoping to improve a defense that climbed from 24th per DVOA in 2022 to 11th in 2023.

3 Popular Vikings on “Cut List”

Vikings fans believe that theorized uptick will involve onboarding many new defensive players, but Over the Cap reminded the masses last week that a handful of starters are at risk of leaving.

Minnesota’s defense struggled out of the gate this season, became elite from Weeks 4 through 14, and utterly collapsed in the final four games. Now, it’s up to general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, head coach Kevin O’Connell, and defensive coordinator Brian Flores to continue the incremental improvement into 2024.

3 Popular Vikings
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And per Over the Cap, three men could exit stage left in the next few months: defensive lineman Harrison Phillips, cornerback Byron Murphy, and defensive lineman Dean Lowry.

Offloading Phillips, a fan favorite, might be counterproductive to winning on Sundays, but Minnesota would save $6.5 million while incurring a $2.3 million dead cap penalty. He’s also no longer scheduled for any guaranteed money, as he was signed two years ago by the Vikings, and nearly every NFL deal is essentially a two-year agreement. Adofo-Mensah could be in an extend or release situation with the veteran defender.

Is London Calling
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Left up to Vikings fans, most would retain or re-sign Phillips, one of the 2023 defense’s sturdiest pieces.

On the other hand, the verdict is less clear on Murphy, a first-year Viking in 2023. Minnesota is on the hook for $5.6 million in dead cap funds if Murphy were to be cut, so his departure wouldn’t make too much sense unless the Vikings’ brass flatly doesn’t care for his profile on the 2024 roster. Put bluntly, it would be a financial burden or blunder to cut ties with Murphy. Unlike Phillips, however, Murphy’s production this year was a bit suspect.

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He played 14 games during his Vikings opening salvo, tabulating a 57.9 Pro Football Focus grade, also known as 91st out of 128 qualifying cornerbacks. His 97.8 passer-rating against mark was also subpar. Folks should expect Murphy on the 2024 roster, crossing fingers for a spike in performance during Year No. 2 in the same system because it simply doesn’t make much sense to cut ties.

Green Bay Packers defensive end Dean Lowry (94) participates in training camp at Ray Nitschke Field, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Finally, Dean Lowry made OTC‘s Top 100 cut list. He was on the field for 237 defensive snaps in 2023, playing nine games before a pectoral injury ended his eighth NFL season. Minnesota is committed to Lowry for $2.4 million in dead cap and would save $2.2 million if Minnesota said goodbye to the ex-Green Bay Packer. Of all three men proposed by OTC, Lowry would be the likeliest to depart.

Free agency formally begins on March 11th with the league’s “legal tampering” period, so decisions, if even in play, on Phillips, Murphy, and Lowry would arrive in the next eight weeks.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.