The Most Telling Move of Vikings Free Agency

What Game Was O’Connell Playing?
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings added 14 new players this offseason via free agency, while 16 men from the 2023 roster signed elsewhere.

The Most Telling Move of Vikings Free Agency

The offseason has been rife with change and shows no signs of slowing down, not until the 2024 NFL Draft, which is 15 days away.

If Minnesota drafts a quarterback later this month — most expect it — that will instantly become the most significant moment of the offseason, and hopefully for the franchise’s sake, the next decade-plus. But regarding free agency, Minnesota’s addition of running back Aaron Jones is the most significant move, and here’s why.

In It to Win It

vikings roster
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Even the most die-hard Vikings fans believe the 2024 season probably isn’t dripping with Super Bowl stakes. Every season since 2016 or so has been accompanied by at least halfway serious Super Bowl expectations — that’s what happens when the team with the NFL’s fourth-best regular season record since 1966 hasn’t won a Lombardi trophy in 58 tries.

But the Jones signing suggests Minnesota, as an organization, doesn’t consider the 2024 campaign as flyover country. In the spirit of its self-professed “competitive rebuild,” adding Jones signals the 2024 Vikings will mean business. Otherwise, they could’ve rolled with Ty Chandler, a rookie, or possibly a Cam Akers reunion and called it good.

They didn’t do that.

Jones is a semi-ironclad solution — he must stay healthy — to an ongoing problem. At a minimum, Minnesota wants to win a bunch of football games this season, even if Sam Darnold or a rookie is under center.

Finally Fixing the Ground Game

Packers coach
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Entering the 2024 offseason, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah battled this malarkey:

Vikings Rushing Stats,
2022:

Yards per Rush = 26th
Rush EPA = 29th
DVOA = 27th
Rushing Yards = 29th
Rush Play % = 30th
Rushing TDs = 8th

Vikings Rushing Stats,
2023:

Yards per Rush = 24th
Rush EPA = 25th
DVOA = 27th
Rushing Yards = 29th
Rush Play % = 30th
Rushing TDs = 30th

None of that is very good. The Jones acquisition indicates the Vikings now mean business in fixing the rushing attack. Because, again, rolling with Chandler and a bargain-bin newcomer(s) would’ve been tempting.

A healthy Jones should plop Minnesota somewhere near the middle of the league per rushing efficiency, if not better — especially if Chandler continues his career ascension.

The Money Allocated

vikings
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings aren’t goofing around. Onboarding a veteran running back — who will turn 30 in December — at a $7 million pricepoint is a big deal.

Had Minnesota grabbed a veteran like Ezekiel Elliott or Dalvin Cook for cheap, this article would not have seen the light of day. Adofo-Mensah disagreed, subscribing to Jones’ services at a premium fee. And this was all with the “Moneyball general manager” pulling strings and calling the shots.

It all just kind of worked out, too, that Jones can fire up the revenge angle against his old team, which just so happens to be the Green Bay Packers.


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 OverTheCap.com.

Share: