Desired Vikings Free Agency Theories Perished on Tuesday

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The Minnesota Vikings enter a fascinating period in their franchise history with quarterback Kirk Cousins and Pro Bowl defender Danielle Hunter potentially leaving in free agency. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must retain or replace his stars to have a competitive roster in the upcoming season.

Desired Vikings Free Agency Theories Perished on Tuesday

Desired Vikings Free Agency Theories Perished on Tuesday
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The free agency pool always shrinks a few days before the negotiation window opens. Teams place franchise tags on their top players who are slated to exit, and the same happened this year as multiple stars will not be allowed to depart from their former (and future) teams.

Drawing the franchise tag is hated among players because they would rather let the market decide their new salary and cash in by signing a multi-year deal. Instead, they are stuck without any choice for at least a season.

Vikings fans looked at some available players and dreamt about signing them, and of course, those are the ones in contention for that franchise tag. Antoine Winfield Jr, son of a beloved former Vikings cornerback and Golden Gopher alumnus, was set to be an unrestricted free agent, available to choose his next franchise.

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However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used the franchise tag, preventing Winfield from exiting Florida. He could’ve been a sweet replacement for Harrison Smith, who is contemplating retirement and could still draw the axe because of his humungous salary cap hit. Winfield was just named first-team All-Pro and has been the leader of Tampa Bay’s defense for years, so it is not shocking at all to see him get tagged.

Another mesmerizing player was Justin Madubuike, a defensive tackle from the Baltimore Ravens. His fourth season in the league was his breakout year, as he recorded 13 sacks, a remarkable number for an interior defensive lineman. Minnesota’s defensive line is a disaster, so Vikings fans loved the idea of signing him.

Vikings Free Agency
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Regardless, the Ravens didn’t let him go, using the franchise tag (as expected), and they will try to find common ground and sign a contract extension. The explosive pass-rusher will not be available for Adofo-Mensah, who needs to find a different way to acquire someone to team up with Harrison Phillips.

Also tagged was Brian Burns, the two-time Pro Bowl edge-rusher from the Carolina Panthers. Besides Hunter, he was probably the best pass-rusher on the market and could’ve been the best replacement if Hunter indeed walked through the door.

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The same could be said about Jaguars defender Josh Allen. Both are younger than Hunter and not quite as productive, but their addition would’ve lessened the blow of losing the veteran. Their teams may end up trading them if they can’t agree on a new deal, and depending on the asking price, there is still a world in which one of them could wear a purple jersey in 2024.

Two players who will be free agents, barring any contract extensions in the next few days, are Kansas City’s star defender, Chris Jones, and Christian Wilkins from the Dolphins. They would help the interior defensive line. Wilkins is intriguing because Minnesota’s DC Brian Flores drafted him, and having a connection to players can separate a team from others in the bidding war.

As expected, some players are off the board, but others are still attainable for the Vikings, who currently have roughly $37 million in cap space.

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