ESPN Recommends the Vikings Sign You Know Who

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

It might be exactly like last summer.

ESPN Recommends the Vikings Sign You Know Who

About a year ago, Minnesota Vikings fans began asking the franchise on social media to sign left guard Dalton Risner. It took a while, but Minnesota’s front office eventually listened, adding Risner to the depth chart last September, and he later took over the starter’s job on the offensive line.

Dalton Risner
Minnesota Vikings guard Dalton Risner addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Dalton Risner: “We All Know We Have A Great Culture But We Came Up Short This Season.”

Now, ESPN claims Risner’s best 2024 fit is — you guessed it — the Vikings.

Matt Bowen of ESPN detailed the “best fits” for the league’s top remaining free agents, and for Risner, Minnesota was the nominee. “A return to Minnesota makes the most sense here for Risner, who logged a pass block win rate of 95.5% last season (fifth among guards) while allowing just two sacks,” Bowen explained Monday.

The Dalton Risner
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

If Risner does not re-sign in Minnesota, the Vikings are expected to start Blake Brandel at the position, formerly a reservist commodity. Risner curiously hasn’t re-upped with Minnesota — or anywhere — signaling a second straight silent free agency for the savvy veteran.

Bowen added, “He can drop anchor in pass protection to close down interior rush lanes, and he displayed a rugged play style as a run-blocker in Kevin O’Connell’s offense. Minnesota currently has Blake Brandel and Ed Ingram slated to start.”

Starting OG
Former Denver Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner on Monday Night Football during his first start with Minnesota. U.S. Bank Stadium, October 23rd, 2023. Risner started for an injured Ezra Cleveland.

When the 2023 season wrapped up and former left guard Ezra Cleveland was long gone via trade to the Jacksonville Jaguars, most Vikings fans believed Risner would re-sign in Minnesota after a successful first campaign. But then March, April, and May hit — with crickets. Meanwhile, Risner hired superagent Drew Rosenhaus in March, a sign that he wanted to avoid last year’s weird silence. So far — no luck.

Risner’s overall PFF grade of 57.1 didn’t set records, but his 67.4 pass-blocking score was music to the ears of Vikings fans. For years — arguably a decade — Vikings enthusiasts asked for a competent pass-blocking guard or two, and the wish was granted in 2023 with second-year lineman Ed Ingram and Risner’s midseason addition.

On his contract desires, Risner personally tweeted on March 12th, “Just In case anyone was wondering … I’ve started 73 games over 5 years in the league … missing only 4 games due to injury… earning the starting spot amongst 3 different coaching staffs … I’ve never asked for a bag, simply just a starting guard contract.”

blake brandel
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

At the beginning of May, The Athletic’s Alec Lewis claimed money was evidently the sticking point for Minnesota’s front office and Risner’s free agency. Lewis wrote, “Until free agent Dalton Risner lowers his monetary ask (he recently switched agents to Drew Rosenhaus, with whom the Vikings have a great relationship), it’s difficult to see a path toward his return.”

Risner will turn 29 in July.

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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