Vikings Free Agent Dalton Risner Voices Frustration

Dalton Risner
Minnesota Vikings guard Dalton Risner addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Dalton Risner: "We All Know We Have A Great Culture But We Came Up Short This Season."

The Minnesota Vikings had to watch multiple starters walk out of the TCO Performance Center for the final time. Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, two staples of the organization, joined competitors. Their presence will surely be missed; without them, the purple crew will look much differently in 2024. Also departed among contributors are WR3 K.J. Osborn and linebackers Jordan Hicks and D.J. Wonnum.

Vikings Free Agent Dalton Risner Voices Frustration

After a disappointing start to the 2023 campaign with two losses, the Vikings addressed two weaknesses by signing free agent guard Dalton Risner and trading for running back Cam Akers. Both guys helped to some extent but are now back on the market, and neither is drawing much interest. Of course, Akers’ stock is hampered by his second torn Achilles tendon, and teams should be skeptical about his explosiveness.

Vikings Free Agent Dalton Risner Voices Frustration
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Risner, however, was trustworthy in his lone season in Minnesota. Because of that reliability, he is frustrated that nobody is calling him. He made that clear in an interview with WIBW 13.

I’ve been able to stay healthy, I worked my butt off, and I still didn’t get picked up in free agency (last year). That was super hard.

I’m a guy that realizes I’m not the best guard in the league, but I know this: I’ve started 75 games in my five-year career, I don’t miss games due to injury, and I definitely don’t miss due to anything but injury, I’m a guy that you have counted on any single Sunday, I’m the first one to the pile, I’m going to hustle, I’m going to block guys like Chris Jones on Sunday, and I’m not going to say I’m doing it easily but I’m blocking guys like Chris Jones and hold my own.

And I’m still just undervalued. I mean, last year, I didn’t get a job until September. And the team that gave me a shot, I showed up there, and their four-year starter, within three weeks, I beat him out for the job, ended up trading him away, and I played 11 games. They relied on me every Sunday. I thought things would change this offseason, here I am, in April, about to be May and I don’t have a job and it’s unfortunate.

Dalton Risner
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

Risner added that he doesn’t want to complain because everyone’s journey is different, and he is grateful for his journey so far.

Still, the frustration is understandable. He, indeed, is not the best guard in football, but he is, at the very least, serviceable and should be a starter somewhere in the league. The Vikings had many different guards in the last decade; most were worse players than Risner.

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He landed a grade from Pro Football Focus of 57.1 in 2023, ranking him 46th of 79 eligible guards. There are 64 starting jobs, and Risner should have one of those. The 28-year-old shines in pass protection, ranking 2oth in that area, while his 65th spot as a run-blocker could be used as an argument against his employment.

The Vikings added him last year and shipped Ezra Cleveland to Jacksonville, where he has since signed a lucrative long-term extension.

Risner is still available, and perhaps the Vikings should consider re-signing him. It can be doubted that last year’s backup, Blake Brandel, or journeyman reserve, Dan Feeney, are superior players. If the purple team can’t find an immediate starter in the draft, calling Risner is a viable option.

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It’s been a strange case of a player who is good enough to be in a starting lineup somewhere but remains without a contract for the second straight offseason. Whether teams don’t value him or he asks for too much salary is unclear.

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