The Dalton Risner Plot Thickens

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

Dalton Risner sure sounds like a man who’d like to continue his journey with the Minnesota Vikings.

But it may not necessarily be cheap, according to some.

The Dalton Risner Plot Thickens

Back in August and September, Vikings fans demanded, tweeted, and yelled for the club to sign Risner from the free-agent wire. And then they did. The experiment worked.

Risner Plot
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

To continue Risner’s stint in purple, though, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah might have to dust off the checkbook. Risner’s price in 2023 was affordable, probably because the regular season was in full swing when signed on the Vikings’ dotted line, but this go-round will cost more, says Pro Football Focus.

PFF’s Brad Spielberger projected Risner fetching a three-year deal worth a total of $24 million and $15 million in guarantees this week, a pricetag a bit higher than most Vikings fans have in mind. The hypothetical deal from PFF would make Risner the NFL’s eighth highest-paid left guard.

Other Free Agents
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Spielberger explained, “Risner’s 2023 free agency didn’t pan out as he’d hoped, so he bided his time before joining the Minnesota Vikings a few weeks into the season on a one-year flier. Risner quickly supplanted Ezra Cleveland at left guard and has been a plus pass protector for the fifth season in a row.”

Risner’s overall PFF grade of 57.1 didn’t break the Richter scale, but his 67.4 pass-blocking score is 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 addition in September.

no quit
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

“Risner does well to initiate contact with a solid punch, ensuring he doesn’t expose his chest or get his hands swatted away. Even on bull rushes where Risner is driven back and gives up pressure, he keeps his feet square and stays in front of the rusher to prevent a hit on the quarterback, frequently providing this signal-caller with just enough time to still get a pass off,” Spielberger added.

Unless the Vikings want to upgrade at center or let Risner walk, the 2023 OL fivesome should return in 2024, assuming Risner intends to return to the Twin Cities and offer complete offensive line continuity in consecutive years for the first time in ages. Minnesota encountered a few struggles here and there in 2023, but on the whole, the offensive trenches markedly improved, largely because of Risner’s steady pass protection.

Even National Voices
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

“I love this locker room. I love these guys. I said last week that this didn’t feel like a 2-4 team. And I’ve been on 2-4 teams for four years. This doesn’t feel like a 2-4 team. We just went and beat one of the better teams in the NFL tonight. Just feels really good, so I have a lot of emotion,” Risner told reporters in October.

The Vikings’ offensive line ranked 12th leaguewide per PFF in 2023. It also battled injuries to Brian O’Neill, Ed Ingram, and Christian Darrisaw.

Risner added about helping the Vikings defeat the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, “Monday Night Football, getting showered with love by Brian O’Neill, Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland, and Ed Ingram, and Christian Darrisaw, and Kirk Cousins, and these guys, man — it was just the perfect night.”

So, if the Vikings want to keep Risner in the Twin Cities, some believe it will cost about eight million bucks annually.

NFL free agency begins on March 11th with “legal tampering.”

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by