Expect Vikings No-Brainer Move to Be Done Soon

Christian Darrisaw's Return Is a Bigger Deal Than You Think
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The NFL draft is less than one week away, and it might just be the franchise-changing event that the Minnesota Vikings need. Following the exit of six-year starter Kirk Cousins in free agency, Skol Nation needs a new skipper, a captain to carry the Super Bowl hopes. That man could arrive in the draft. The last time the Vikings attempted to find that guy, Rick Spielman selected Teddy Bridgewater in 2014.

Expect Vikings No-Brainer Move to Be Done Soon

Expect Vikings No-Brainer Move to Be Done Soon
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However, franchise-changers can be acquired in the draft regardless of position. Justin Jefferson’s rise to stardom in his four seasons in the NFL has been nothing short of sensational. He is the face of the franchise and will be the best friend, at the very least on the field, of a rookie passer.

Also helpful will be the presence of a star left tackle, someone to protect a QB’s blindside. The good news is that Minnesota employs one of those. 2021 first-rounder Christian Darrisaw has been one of the best in the business at the vital position.

Entering his fourth season, Darrisaw will draw a big contract decision soon. NFL teams can trigger the fifth-year option of their 2021 draftees until May 2nd, and picking up Darrisaw’s option is just a formality at this point.

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The compensation for the fifth-year option is set based on playtime and the number of Pro Bowls. Because he met the playtime criteria (75% of snaps over three seasons) but failed to make a trip to the Pro Bowl, although he deserved to be there, his salary projection is $16,037,000 in 2025, according to OverTheCap.

Darrisaw has the talent to be a true franchise left tackle, handling the blindside duties for a decade or more. The Vikings surely want to keep him on the team for years to come, so exercising the option is the obvious choice. Once they have done that, he will be under contract for two more seasons, and the front office and the player can negotiate a new contract without any pressure.

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That salary will be enormous. The top-paid left tackles, according to OverTheCap, based on average annual salary:

  • Laremy Tunsil (HOU) — $25,000,000
  • Andrew Thomas (NYG) — $23,500,000
  • Trent Williams (SF) — $23,010,000
  • Dion Dawkins (BUF) — $20,020,000

With the increased salary cap, Darrisaw will undoubtedly sign for at least $20 million per season.

Darrisaw missed some time in his rookie campaign after having core muscle surgery. That limited him to 12 games (ten starts). He experienced some rookie struggles but showed a lot of promise and was an immediate upgrade over spot starter Rashod Hill.

Before his sophomore campaign, he drew comparisons to Trent Williams, a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the greatest offensive linemen ever to play the game. Both share a thunderous power and the athletic tools to make plays in space. And Darrisaw lived up to the hype. A pair of concussions cost him three games in 2022 and an ankle injury two contests in 2023, but he bullies pass-rushers, even elite ones, whenever he is on the field.

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Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-best tackle in the league in 2022 and ranked seventh in 2023. His excellence in pass protection and run blocking is a huge plus compared to other players specializing in one aspect of the game.

His outstanding play on the left side of the line will help the Vikings regain their lost strength in the passing game and drastically increase the comfort level of the potential rookie quarterback.

Darrisaw is a building block of the organization and will not leave anytime soon; it’s time the Vikings make it official by picking up his option.

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