4 Vikings Lost Free Agency

5 Vikings Should Get
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Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been busy with free agency, signing a bunch of players over ten days. Losing Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter was demoralizing for Skol Nation, but he has done his best to replace them in free agency or to position the organization in the draft to acquire a quarterback in the first round.

4 Vikings Lost Free Agency

Because of the many acquisitions, some players lost potential starting roles and can’t be pleased with the GM’s actions.

4. Patrick Jones II

The pass-rusher is entering his fourth season in the NFL, but he hasn’t sniffed a starting gig unless not just one but two players in front of him got hurt. As a former third-rounder, Jones has only started four games (all in 2023) and contributed five sacks in 42 contests.

4 Vikings Lost Free Agency
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Because of the departures of starters Hunter, Marcus Davenport, and D.J. Wonnum, only Jones and 2023 undrafted rookie Andre Carter remained when free agency kicked off, a huge chance to earn a significant role. Since then, the Vikings have added three pass-rushers to the mix, including new starters Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard and veteran backup Jihad Ward.

Jones should still be expected to play a role in the final year of his rookie contract, but he hasn’t developed into the player the Vikings envisioned when they chose him in the third round in 2021. Therefore, barring multiple injuries, he will not be in contention to start games.

3. Nick Mullens

Quarterback Cousins left, and the Vikings are expected to draft a rookie. Until he is ready, a veteran must be the bridge quarterback. Nick Mullens has experience and has started games before, including three in 2023. It was only logical for fans to expect the former 49ers and Browns quarterback to be that guy. Instead, Adofo-Mensah signed another player — Sam Darnold — for a salary of $10 million.

Moved to Tears
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Darnold has had problems with ball security in the past, and his career TD-to-INT ratio of 63 to 56 isn’t any better than Mullens’ 34 to 31. That allows the question as to why the Vikings did it. Darnold is a much more talented passer with a superior arm, and the decision-makers clearly think he could thrive in the best situation he has been in outside of last year’s backup role in San Francisco. Whether his addition was worth $10 million or if they could have been used elsewhere remains to be seen.

2. Ty Chandler

Running back Ty Chandler was one of the breakout players late in the 2023 season when the team was slowly falling apart. Once he stole the starting job from Alexander Mattison, he rushed for 258 yards in the season’s final four games, racking up an average of 4.87 yards per carry. The sophomore also scored twice on the ground and showed the explosiveness Mattison lacked.

Monitor Key Offensive
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) dives for the end zone as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) and Cincinnati Bengals safety Dax Hill (23) defend in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

While a four-game stretch is a small sample size, he surely looked the part, and a starting job in 2024 was within reach. However, the Vikings snatched Aaron Jones, the longtime star runner, from the Green Bay Packers, and considering how dynamic he still looked when healthy in 2023, he will not be the second fiddle. Another running back could be acquired in the draft.

In all likelihood, Chandler will be part of an RB committee, but he is unlikely to be the RB1 he was in the final stretch of the 2023 season.

1. Brian Asamoah

Last season was a disappointment for the 2022 third-rounder after a promising rookie season in which he slowly cut into the reps of starters Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks. Following Kendricks’ departure, Brian Asamoah had an enormous chance to clinch a starting spot, but he failed for two reasons: UDFA signing Ivan Pace emerged, and he sustained a shoulder injury that would linger all year.

Defender on the Road
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The linebacker underwent surgery following the season, but in his sophomore campaign, he only played 36 snaps on defense and was primarily a special teams player.

Hicks is now off the team, so featuring a starting combination of Asamoah and Pace was possible until the Vikings signed Minnesota native Blake Cashman, who is coming off a wonderful breakout season. Asamoah is too talented just to be a career backup, but that is his role for now.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt