Vikings 2023 “Hero” Is Unsurprising

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The Minnesota Vikings are two and half weeks into the offseason after failing to qualify for the postseason in 2023, with free agency seven weeks away and the 2024 NFL Draft on April 25th.

And to put a bow on the 2023 campaign, handed out “unsung hero” awards for each team, courtesy of Kevin Patra. When he arrived at the Vikings, safety Josh Metellus got the nod.

Vikings 2023 “Hero” Is Unsurprising

A former 6th-Round draft pick, Metellus emerged into a bonafide starter this season, logging 116 total tackles, 10 QB hits, 7 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks, an interception, and a 70.1 Pro Football Focus grade. The 26-year-old is also a Pro Bowl alternate and could be formally named to that squad when safeties decline the invitation because of Super Bowl invitation or injury.

Vikings 2023
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Patra declared Metellus as Minnesota’s unsung hero and explained, “Credit defensive coordinator Brian Flores for unlocking Metellus’ havoc-creating ability. The former sixth-round pick out of Michigan played sparingly his first three seasons but became a versatile weapon under Flores. Metellus lined up all over the formation, from safety to outside linebacker, inside linebacker, slot corner, wide corner and defensive lineman. Heck, PFF even charted Metellus as having one snap lined up as a defensive tackle.”

Flores took the Vikings’ defensive coordinator job about one year ago and instantly transformed the league’s 24th-best defense per DVOA into the 11th-best.

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Patra added about Metellus, “From those various locations, the 26-year-old stuffed the stat sheet, gobbling up 116 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 10 QB hits, one interception, five passes defended, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Metellus led all safeties with 30 QB pressures, per Next Gen Stats, on a whopping 116 pass rushes (26 more than any other safety in 2023).”

Right before the 2023 season kicked off, the Vikings awarded Metellus a two-year contract extension, affixing the Michigan alumnus to the roster through the end of 2025. The move looks marvelous in retrospect.

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In June 2023, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah joined Peter Schrager’s podcast and was asked to name his pick for the club’s unsung hero. Without hesitation, the young executive replied, “Josh Metellus. He’s a safety, and he’ll play some more this year, so I think you’ll see the stuff that we’ve seen. He was a special teams stalwart last year, team-captain type. I was in the team meeting room later in the season after [Brian O’Neill] got hurt, [Metellus] was given team captain.”

Metellus then backed up the high praise, and Adofo-Mensah was right. The reporting absolutely confirmed it.

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“You can feel when somebody’s teammates really love them, really appreciate them and really want to follow them into battle, and he’s one of those guys. He’s everything that the Minnesota Vikings are about, and I think people are really going to appreciate that more this season,” Adofo-Mensah said seven months ago.

Metellus will retain a starter’s role in 2024 — one that could even be enhanced if Harrison Smith retires.

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