Vikings Are Making a Mistake with OL

ESPN Identifies Vikings Biggest Weakness
Kirk Cousins & Vikings Offensive Line

When the Minnesota Vikings started the 2023 season, their offensive line looked different than when they ended it. Notably, Dalton Risner was signed as a free agent and plugged into the left guard position. His play allowed the organization to trade Ezra Cleveland. Not bringing him back for year two would be a mistake.

Vikings Are Making a Mistake with OL

Thus far this offseason, the Vikings have largely focused on defensive additions. Kirk Cousins was allowed to walk, and Sam Darnold was brought in as a bridge quarterback. There has been plenty of roster turnover, and more of that should be expected. Up front, though, for an offensive line that looked better than it has in some time, moving on from Dalton Risner doesn’t make sense.

Former Denver Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner on Monday Night Football during his first start with the Minnesota Vikings. U.S. Bank Stadium, October 23rd, 2023. Risner started for an injured Ezra Cleveland.

Minnesota currently has two outstanding bookends in Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill. The center position has been revitalized with Garrett Bradbury’s development, and Ed Ingram made massive strides as the season went on a year ago. Thus far during free agency the only signing Minnesota has made came in the form of Blake Brandel. The backup left tackle seemingly is penciled into the guard spot, but Risner remains out there.

When the Denver Broncos moved on from Risner, his availability immediately seemed like a no-brainer addition for the Vikings. He plays the guard position at a very high level, and solidifying the line has been something the franchise has struggled to do in recent seasons. He came in and started down the stretch while looking every bit of the talent he was expected to be.

Vikings Free Agency
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

Now again on the open market, Risner is certainly looking for a better deal than the one he had to wait for a year ago. Still, his salary shouldn’t break the bank, and it seemed like both sides genuinely appreciated the fit with one another.

When Cleveland was dealt, it seemed to suggest that the Vikings may want to keep Risner around for more than just one year, and a longer-term extension could be in the works.

Changing Thoughts
January 10th, 2024. Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center concluding the 2023 NFL regular season. Minnesota finished 7-10 in 2023 and missed the postseason.

It would be surprising to see Risner twist in the wind for as long as he did a season ago, and sooner or later, he’s going to find a home. While it’s clear he would be a good fit with the Vikings, allowing him to negotiate elsewhere and ultimately losing him would be a tough pill to swallow.

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.