The 12 New Players Who Could Start for the Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings changed everything over the last six months. The club said goodbye to franchise cornerstones Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter after a combined 15 seasons and welcomed rookies J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner.

The 7 New Vikings Who Could Start on Defense

Between 40+ new players and around 20 departures involving players from the 2023 roster, the team will look somewhat different in 2024.

So, these are 12 new possible starters on offense and defense, listed alphabetically.

Blake Cashman (LB)

new players
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Replaced (or Might Replace): Jordan Hicks

This Eden Prairie native scribbled on the Vikings’ dotted line immediately during free agency and has a clear path to a starting off-ball linebacker spot. The guy who held the job last year, Hicks, now plays for the Cleveland Browns.

Barring injury, this Minnesotan will start for Minnesota in Week 1 next to Ivan Pace Jr.

Jonathan Greenard (OLB)

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports.

Replaced (or Might Replace): Danielle Hunter

Minnesota and Houston basically swapped Hunter and Greenard, with Greenard at a bit more affordable price and two years Hunter’s junior. He gained stardom last year, tabulating 12.5 sacks, and will use Minnesota as his career’s second act.

Like Cashman, Greenard is a certainty to start for the 2024 Vikings.

Shaquill Griffin (CB)

shaquill griffin
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Replaced (or Might Replace): Akayleb Evans

Griffin joined Minnesota’s roster after the first wave of free agency, almost feeling like an “extra” piece in the secondary at the time. But due to his experience — 89 career games with 79 starts — he’s the most experienced cornerback in the purple locker room.

He could take Akayleb Evans’ job, for example, this summer.

Aaron Jones (RB)

Aaron Jones, Jonathan Greenard, Jordan Addison and Cam Bynum spoke with reporters after mandatory minicamp on Wednesday, June 5th, 2024, at TCO Performance Center. The Vikings signed Jones during the 2024 free agency period, a replacement for Alexander Mattison, who joined the Las Vegas Raiders roster.

Replaced (or Might Replace): Alexander Mattison

An automatic to start at RB1, Jones defected from the Green Bay Packers in March, a squad that preferred Josh Jacobs. Minnesota paid Jones handsomely by a running back’s standards, so he will for sure take the first hand-off in 2024.

Don’t sleep on Ty Chandler, though. He might grab about 30%-40% of all rushing carries.

5 & 6.
J.J. McCarthy (QB) or Sam Darnold (QB)

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports | Nov 18, 2023; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) on the field against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

Replaced (or Might Replace): Kirk Cousins

This battle will capture all the headlines — rightfully so. Even if Darnold has the job in the bag.

Darnold joined the club in March after Kirk Cousins left, an insurance policy in case the draft bent pear-shaped. It did not, and Minnesota drafted McCarthy with the 10th overall pick. The job will be McCarthy’s eventually — no matter what — so it’s a waiting game for the young Wolverine.

Folks will watch this one with the most interest of all.

Trent Sherfield (WR)

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Replaced (or Might Replace): K.J. Osborn took a swing at the Vikings’ starting lineup earlier this offseason and nominated Sherfield for WR3 duty. Gregg Rosenthal wrote about the WR group as a whole: “Keep an eye on Justin Jefferson’s contract talks, which could drag into the summer. Jordan Addison can be one of the best No. 2 receivers in football. I’m less concerned about the No. 3 spot (Brandon Powell is also an option), because T.J. Hockenson essentially will serve in that role once he’s back from a torn ACL.”

If Sherfield fires up a productive summer, he can perhaps be “the guy” at WR3.

Robert Tonyan (TE)

robert tonyan
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Replaced (or Might Replace): T.J. Hockenson (temporarily, anyway)

Tonyan, 30, encountered a quiet season with the Chicago Bears in 2023, receiving just 17 targets in 17 games while banking 11 receptions for 112 yards. Before 2023, Tonyan spent five seasons in Green Bay, with 1,437 yards on 148 catches for 17 touchdowns in 68 games as a Packer. At times, he was one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets.

There’s a decent chance he takes over TE1 duties with T.J. Hockenson on deck to miss some of 2024. In fact, he may be the odds-on favorite to start at tight end Week 1.

9 & 10.
Dallas Turner (OLB) or Andrew Van Ginkel (OLB)

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Replaced (or Might Replace): Marcus Davenport

Turner and Van Ginkel will likely finish 2024 with similar defensive snap counts, but no matter what, change is on the menu because Marcus Davenport and D.J. Wonnum held this job in 2023.

Van Ginkel will likely serve as a situational pass rusher when the dust settles, with Turner as the bellcow EDGE. But it’s a guessing game on the timing. Van Ginkel is also recovering from a Lisfranc injury.

11 & 12.
Jerry Tillery (DT) or Jonah Williams (DT)

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Replaced (or Might Replace): Dean Lowry

The Vikings didn’t afford many resources to the defensive tackle spot next to the nose tackle — they never do that — ergo, this new starter outcome is between Tillery and Williams.

Williams started more games for the Rams in 2023 than Tillery did for the Raiders, but both had similar snap counts when the season ended.

With a side dish of Jonathan Bullard, may the best man replace Lowry in 2024. Tillery is the favorite among Vikings starting lineup projections.

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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