Looks Like the Vikings Have a New Starting LG

Unsung Viking
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The Minnesota Vikings have had a busy free agency period, as several new arrivals have already agreed to terms with the franchise. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has spent a ton of money on the defensive side of the ball to provide defensive coordinator Brian Flores with the necessary talent to form a solid unit.

Looks Like the Vikings Have a New Starting LG

Looks Like the Vikings Have a New Starting LG
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Kirk Cousins’ departure and the signings of Jonathan Greenard, Blake Cashman, and Andrew Van Ginkel earned the focus of all Vikings fans. Overshadowed was the news that the organization is retaining a couple of offensive linemen. Backup right tackle David Quessenberry and versatile guard Blake Brandel were re-signed.

Quessenberry will take over the same role as last year. When Brian O’Neill isn’t available, it is his spot. He also subbed in for Christian Darrisaw a few times after Oli Udoh landed on IR. If the Vikings don’t sign a superior backup left tackle, he could be their top replacement for both spots.

Brandel had that role in 2022. 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.

The Dalton Risner
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Fortunately for him, a spot is available on the offensive line because left guard Dalton Risner is a free agent and could sign with any team. A return can’t be ruled out, but with the rising salaries for interior offensive linemen, Risner’s asking price might exceed his value, and the Vikings could just rely on Brandel to take his job.

Brandel’s salary is a fascinating indication. The veteran signed a three-year contract worth $9.5 million, with half of that guaranteed. Incentives and bonuses can skyrocket that contract to a maximum of $11.25 million.

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That is enough for him to enter the starter conversation. It is not quite enough for him to be the unquestioned starter without any competition going forward, but it is fair to assume that he is the penciled-in starter for now, and the team is happy with that. That competition can still be added in the draft, but it is not a pressing need. Spending a late-round pick for another offensive guard is likely.

The offensive line was massively improved last season after the decision-makers preached the advantages of continuity all offseason. From left to right, Christian Darrisaw, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Ed Ingram, and Brian O’Neill stayed together in 2022, and the first half of the 2023 campaign, and the familiarity helped them take their game to the next level.

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Cleveland was then traded to Jacksonville, and Risner took his spot. Having four of five starters return is still a sign of continuity. O’Neill and Darrisaw form one of the league’s elite offensive tackle duos, while the line’s interior could still be better, although 2023 was a significant step in the right direction. Bradbury looked improved, and Ingram was a totally different player compared to his debut season in 2022.

Brandel just turned 27 and now has the best opportunity in his career. A spot in the starting unit is in reach for the veteran after years of providing solid depth.

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