Vikings Fans’ Big FA Request Is Fun. But Is It Realistic?

Target in Free
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings enter the 2024 offseason with their most favorable salary cap situation in years.

Usually throughout the last few, Minnesota jaunts into February “in the red,” needing to release expensive veterans or restructure contracts just to slip into the green.

Vikings Fans’ Big FA Request Is Fun. But Is It Realistic?

But this offseason is different as the purple team is about $25 million right side up with available funds. And it can free up even more space if players like Harrison Smith, for example, retire.

Therefore, Minnesota will have the cash to sign impact free agents in less than six weeks, and as of late, the team’s fans have become fixated on one man in particular — Antoine Winfield Jr.

Big FA Request
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, the Buccaneers may not let the All-Pro safety walk out the door, but some team will sign on for his services if so, probably for around $15-$18 million per year. Because of Winfield’s college ties to the University of Minnesota, plus his father’s history with the Vikings, folks want the son Winfield in purple.

But is it realistic? Perhaps not.

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The Buccaneer tabulated 122 total tackles in 2023 with 8 QB hits, a league-leading 6 forced fumbles, 6 sacks, and 6 tackles for loss. He also snatched 3 interceptions from opposing quarterbacks en route to the aforementioned All-Pro nod. The production is certainly there, and Winfield Jr. would be an absolutely fabulous addition.

Yet, Minnesota’s free-agent priority may not be safety. Why? Well, these are the Vikings safeties under contract in 2024:

  • Harrison Smith
  • Josh Metellus
  • Camryn Bynum
  • Lewis Cine
  • Jay Ward
Image Courtesy of Strong safety Harrison Smith shown wearting the Minnesota Vikings new alternate uniforms on July 18, 2023, via stream event. Minnesota will wear the uniforms on September 10th, 2023, at home versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Smith is the hot topic because at age 34 — he’ll turn 35 next month — he could retire or join another team if released. However, even if Smith departs, the Vikings are still extraordinarily deep at safety, at least compared to other positions, for 2024. Metellus, Bynum, Cine, and Ward are young. Minnesota has already spent ample draft capital bolstering the safety spot.

Of course, many Vikings have chosen to label Cine a “bust” because his leg snapped 15 months ago, and folks have no patience for his recovery and development. Perhaps the “they should sign Winfield Jr.” theory is predicated on Cine never materializing. On the other hand, if Cine shows up this summer to training camp and projects to start or play in 2024, then the safety room is golden.

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports.

On the whole, the Vikings could invest free-agent dollars in Winfield Jr. But it’s one of the few spots on the depth chart that seems already fortified with depth.

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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