Vikings Among Teams with “Most to Lose” in the Coming Days

Cousins Situation Changed
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Does doom & gloom ever follow Minnesota sports? With the Vikings among the teams that have the “most to lose,” it would appear so.

On The Athletic, Randy Mueller offers a piece that considers four teams with the “most to lose in free agency.” Maybe unsurprisingly, the Minnesota Vikings — complete with uncertainty surrounding Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter — get included in the list.

Vikings Among the Teams with the “Most to Lose”

Overall, Mueller doesn’t appear particularly keen about Minnesota’s dichotomy-defying competitive rebuild.

“The Vikings are in a stare-down with themselves,” Mueller argues, “Try to be competitive now or launch a full-fledged rebuild?” He sees danger in the approach: “Few can do both at the same time, and at minimum, riding the fence is a very fine line.”

Listed as Contestant
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A major part of the problem for the Vikings rests in losing Cousins, the team’s QB1 since 2018. The risk, per Mueller, is that seeing the veteran leave would mean “rais[ing] a red flag for other players” since “the quarterback has a direct effect on [other players’] livelihoods.”

The danger doesn’t stop there, though. Potentially losing Hunter, Jordan Hicks, D.J. Wonnum, Marcus Davenport, Dalton Risner, and K.J. Osborn (among others) could lead to a poor result in Minnesota.

“Losing one or two of these contributors probably has to be expected, and that would be a normal amount of departures in a given year. But if the bulk of them walk out the door, it could set this team back further. That’s a risk that can be minimized only by the Vikings’ willingness to adjust their budget to keep the best of this group,” Muller goes on to argue.

The Dalton Risner
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Seeing all of the potential change and sounding the alarm is reasonable enough, and yet there’s something to be said for Minnesota’s longstanding plan.

Since the beginning of his time as the Vikings’ GM, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has signalled that the 2024 offseason was going to be a time of change. Much of the work has already begun by moving on from players like Ezra Cleveland, Patrick Paterson, Eric Kendricks, Dalvin Tomlinson, Cameron Dantzler, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen, but these upcoming weeks and months always looked like the time when the Spielman/Zimmer era would firmly get put in the rear view mirror.

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And, to be sure, change isn’t all bad.

One upside of losing players in free agency is the potential for a hearty helping of draft picks coming over. In fact, Nick Korte on Over the Cap recently placed the Vikings alongside the Baltimore Ravens as the only teams with a “Very High” chance of picking up compensatory selections due to free agency departures.

Plus, Adofo-Mensah gets the financial flexibility that he clearly covets. Shaping the roster in his own image has been difficult given that the budget has been so snug. Doing some of the difficult work now means Minnesota has the potential to venture into a future where money isn’t nearly as tight. Right now, Minnesota finds itself with the 5th-most cap space in 2025, largely a byproduct of showing so much restraint in the leadup to the current offseason.

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Disagreeing with and/or being concerned about the approach in Minnesota is reasonable. Finding success without players like Cousins, Hunter, and several others is going to be difficult.

The counterpoint is simply that the Vikings’ organization doesn’t seem to have a lot of panic. Instead, the word from key decision makers has been one of consistent poise and acceptance. Yes, high-end talent could leave, but that eventuality doesn’t seem to raise much alarm.

And, of course, there’s the possibility that many of the rumors end up being misguided. Maybe Cousins stays; maybe Hunter finishes his career by only playing for the Vikings.

These questions will start getting firm answers next week. Legal tampering begins on Monday, March 11th. Per OTC, the Vikings are sitting on roughly $37 million in cap space.

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K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.