What Is the Vikings’ Rebuild in Year 3?

Draft Plan Just Got
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When the Minnesota Vikings transitioned their front office and coaching staff beyond Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer, the new regime had an immediate message. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah noted that the goal for the franchise would be to undergo a competitive rebuild. Now, in year three of that reality, where are we?

What Is the Vikings’ Rebuild in Year 3?

Kevin O’Connell took over for Mike Zimmer in 2022 and immediately put up one of the best seasons in Vikings history. While plenty of their wins featured come from behind victories or one-score games, the reality was that they racked up positive results in the win column. That was somewhat unexpected but it put them in a position to host a home playoff game.

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After a disappointing season ending in 2022, the overall assumption for 2023 was that the team would take a step backward but still be competitive. That reality should have played out perfectly but was hampered by substantial injuries. Losing wide receiver Justin Jefferson against the Kansas City Chiefs wasn’t good, and watching Kirk Cousins hit injured reserve against the Green Bay Packers was even worse.

The Vikings still positioned themselves with a chance to make the playoffs all the way up until the final week, and although it didn’t happen, they were hardly a dumpster fire, given the circumstances. Now tasked with getting back closer to 2022 results in 2024, it’s worth wondering what the rebuild looks like.

Adofo-Mensah has turned over the vast majority of Minnesota’s roster. O’Connell has put key players in position to succeed, and defensive coordinator Brian Flores has helped multiple players reach new heights. There will be personnel changes in the year ahead, but the greatest focal point is how the Vikings handle their most important position and what they make of the draft.

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Cousins is no longer under contract, and if Minnesota is set to move on, they will need to get everything right about the position. A veteran bridge option could work, but the incoming rookie must be ready to go sooner rather than later. Retaining Cousins would be a straightforward plan, but it has to happen at a realistic figure and allow room to build around him.

Seeing Cousins in another uniform for 2024 would be weird and different. Adofo-Mensah didn’t commit to Cousins long-term initially, but he has already chosen to keep him around once. The head coach has a good rapport with his signal caller, and keeping that going could be straightforward.

The Cousins decision directly plays into how Minnesota will handle the draft. Their first selection comes at 11th overall, and plenty of talented rookie quarterbacks are ready to enter the league. To what extent the Vikings want one of them, or if they want to trade up and start one immediately, is a narrative that needs to play out.

Adofo-Mensah’s first-ever pick, Lewis Cine, is at a crossroads where his time with the team could end, and he can’t afford to have another miss like that in this draft. Minnesota also needs help on the defensive line, interior offensive line, and a few other places. Building with youth is something the front office must do, and that is always going to be a vital part of a successful rebuild.

The Vikings 4 Realistic
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In year three, the hope would be that the division is back within Minnesota’s sights. Turnover has been good, but finding a way to establish themselves at the top again is a must.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.