Pending Free Agent Dalton Risner Does His Thing Again

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Minnesota’s free agency class is notable in league circles as it features the top available quarterback and a Pro Bowl defensive end, Danielle Hunter, who’s coming off his most productive season. Kirk Cousins is 35 and still recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, but that will not prevent him from having a robust market. He is simply too good to be ignored by QB-needy teams.

Pending Free Agent Dalton Risner Does His Thing Again

Pending Free Agent Dalton Risner Does His Thing Again
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Next to those two big-ticket items, the Vikings risk losing some significant contributors. Defender D.J. Wonnum also enjoyed his best season to date under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Brian Flores, and linebacker Jordan Hicks turned back the clock, looking like his prime self rather than the aging player from 2022.

Another key player on the market is left guard Dalton Risner, who was acquired after Week 2. His one-year contract is set to expire. Surprisingly, he didn’t have the desired interest a year ago and couldn’t find a team until the Vikings added the free agent to their roster. He ultimately replaced Ezra Cleveland, who was sent to Jacksonville for a sixth-rounder, in the starting lineup.

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Before the Vikings signed him, the former Denver Bronco went on social media, claiming multiple times that he was just waiting for a team to give him a chance. Posting workout videos and flirting with fans about joining their enterprise were repeating items.

Now that he is in a similar situation, he is returning to his old tricks. On Friday, just three days before teams and players can negotiate deals, he tweeted on X:

He is, indeed, looking for work again. It remains to be seen if the Vikings are willing to re-sign him. The interior offensive linemen have experienced a bullish market. On Thursday, former Viking Cleveland agreed to a lucrative deal worth up to $28.5 million through three seasons. The Rams signed Kevin Dotson to a three-year contract for a total of $48 million.

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General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must be efficient with his available cap space. He has over $30 million to spend, which is a whole lot more than in previous seasons, but he must fill the crucial quarterback and EDGE spots.

Brett Spielberger from PFF predicts the guard to sign a $16.5 million three-year deal. His estimations of Dotson’s and Cleveland’s contracts were pretty close, and he is generally an accurate source for those guesses.

If the Vikings can bring him back for $5.5 million per season, there isn’t much upside to passing that up. Superior players will earn a much higher salary, and the Vikings have only two draft selections in the first three rounds, so it will be hard to replace him that way. He is a solid football player and brings a unique and positive energy to the locker room and the football field.

Dalton Risner of the Denver Broncos walks the red carpet before the NFL Honors awards special at the Phoenix Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. © Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

All eyes will be on Cousins and Hunter, and while they are undoubtedly the most important pieces, free agency is much more nuanced than that. Minnesota has already re-signed Theo Jackson, Nick Muse, and Johnny Mundt. Other low-profile players will follow, who will be outshone by the stars, but are just as important to chasing a Super Bowl.

Risner will turn 29 in July, and his solid play will earn him a starting role in 2024. Whether it will be with the Vikings or a different place should be revealed in the next few weeks.

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