Kevin O’Connell Dropped a Major Hint about Vikings’ Offseason

Gets the CNN
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With the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers notching playoff wins on Sunday, some Minnesota Vikings fans feared the NFC North’s trajectory. Both clubs are ascending, and the Chicago Bears own the 1st overall pick in April’s draft.

To merely keep up, Minnesota must produce a productive and impactful offseason or risk lagging behind its three primary foes.

Kevin O’Connell Dropped a Major Hint about Vikings’ Offseason

And according to head coach Kevin O’Connell, defensive help will be on the way this offseason, with free agency just 56 days away. O’Connell and his boss, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, answered questions at an end-of-season press conference last week, and among several items, O’Connell dropped a subtle hint about his team’s defensive personnel plans.

Dropped a Major Hint
January 10th, 2024. Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center concluding the 2023 NFL regular season. Minnesota finished 7-10 in 2023 and missed the postseason.

“We can improve our depth and continue to add pieces to that side of the football, I have so much confidence in what he’s going to be able to do,” O’Connell said about Brian Flores’ defense.

The Vikings’ defense improved from a 24th ranking per DVOA in 2022 to 11th in 2023, Flores’ first year in charge. Cause for optimism, indeed

O’Connell also added about Flores, “First and foremost with Flo, could not be more happy with the decision that I made last year to bring him in.”

Why the Vikings Would
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Maintaining and improving the defense won’t necessarily be easy, however. Minnesota has no starting EDGE rushers under contract at the moment for 2024, so Danielle Hunter back in purple is close to mandatory, in addition to finding another starting outside linebacker. The free-agent experiment with Marcus Davenport did not work in 2023.

Overall, these are the Vikings’ 25 free agents heading into March:

  • RB Cam Akers
  • LB Anthony Barr
  • IOL Blake Brandel
  • DL Jonathan Bullard
  • QB Kirk Cousins
  • OLB Marcus Davenport
  • QB Joshua Dobbs
  • LB Troy Dye
  • OLB Danielle Hunter
  • LB Jordan Hicks
  • TE Johnny Mundt
  • TE Nick Muse
  • S Theo Jackson
  • K Greg Joseph
  • DT James Lynch
  • OT Oli Udoh
  • G Chris Reed
  • WR K.J. Osborn
  • WR Brandon Powell
  • OT David Quessenberry
  • IOL Dalton Risner
  • IOL Austin Schlottmann
  • DL T.J. Smith
  • DT Khyiris Tonga
  • OLB D.J. Wonnum
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Minnesota has around $26 million in cap space for 2024, according to current projections, a vast improvement from the onset of last year’s offseason when the Vikings began $24 million underwater. If the Vikings prefer big-name, reputable free agents, several will be available in March, including Christian Wilkins (DT, Dolphins), L’Jarius Sneed (CB. Chiefs), and Bryce Huff (EDGE, Jets), for example.

The man signing the newcomers, the aforementioned Adofo-Mensah, also hinted that his team is close to shedding the “rebuild” label from his competitive rebuild strategy. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell will enter Year No. 3 in 2024, and the time to sign high-profile defenders may be now.

Hope to Avoid Doomsday
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The Vikings also own the 11th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft if they wish to use the capital on a defensive player, although most Vikings fans expect the front office to draft a quarterback.

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).

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