Vikings Made a “Worst Signing” of 2024 Offseason

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s been a tumultuous offseason for the Minnesota Vikings that will climax in the NFL draft when general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah tries to acquire a new franchise quarterback. In free agency, however, he has added many players who will contribute immediately, especially on the defense. Coordinator Brian Flores is surely happy with his haul.

Vikings Made a “Worst Signing” of 2024 Offseason

Vikings Made a "Worst Signing" of 2024 Offseason
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Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard will form the new pass-rushing tandem, and departed linebacker Jordan Hicks has been replaced by Minnesota native Blake Cashman. Shaq Griffin provides some experience to the young cornerback group, and Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams support Harrison Phillips on the defensive line.

On offense, meanwhile, Adofo-Mensah signed running back Aaron Jones, who will be the immediate top option in the backfield, and Sam Darnold, the team’s bridge quarterback. On the offensive line, Dalton Risner’s void hasn’t been fully filled, as the team only added last year’s backup, Blake Brandel, and journeyman backup, Dan Feeney.

Unsung Viking
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Bleacher Report’s Ryan Fowler is not a fan of Brandel and him potentially starting on the vacant left guard spot and nominated him as one of the league’s worst signings.

If the season began today, Minnesota would start Blake Brandel, who’s given up more sacks (8) than he’s had starts (5) in his young career.

A sixth-rounder from Oregon State in 2020, it took until Week 14 last fall for Brandel to make his first appearance of the campaign. In three appearances at right guard, Brandel allowed a sack, five hurries and eight pressures in limited work.

The year prior, Brandel seesawed from a rotational piece to starter snaps, yet he yielded seven sacks, five hurries and 13 pressures in just three starts.

A lot can and will change as rosters continue to evolve throughout the spring and summer, but the Vikings have questions to figure out when it comes to who ultimately starts at left guard.

Ryan Fowler, Bleacher Report

It remains to be seen if Brandel is actually the intended starter. The Vikings could still try to address the position on day three of the draft, and another addition via free agency is possible. However, Brandel signed a three-year contract worth $9.5 million, with half fully guaranteed. That is either cheap starter money or an expensive backup salary, but considering the contract, Minnesota would be fine with him starting for a season.

Longshot to Start
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Brandel came into the league as an offensive tackle. He started three games in 2022, all at left tackle. Last offseason, the Vikings converted him to a backup guard, and he also gained starting experience when right guard Ed Ingram missed two contests late in the season. Brandel appeared in 39 games in the last three seasons and made five starts while logging 503 snaps on offense.

Fowler’s concerns are valid because Brandel didn’t entirely dominate when he stepped onto the field, and he is probably better suited for the backup role.

The offensive line was massively improved last season. All five starters returned (Risner replaced Ezra Cleveland following his trade), and the continuity showed up on Sundays. With an added focus on the running game and potentially a rookie passer in the pocket in the upcoming season, the offensive line will again be vital.

Draft Trade
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Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill form one of the elite tackle duos in the NFL. Veteran Garrett Bradbury returns at center. He had a disastrous start to his career but has been serviceable in the last couple of seasons. Right guard Ingram has also turned into a solid player. The big concern remains the left guard spot.

Brandel, 27, could receive the most significant opportunity of his career and can show that he is more than just a backup.

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