32% of Vikings Starters Left This Offseason

Vikings May Move on from Danielle Hunter
Danielle Hunter

The Minnesota Vikings welcomed 14 newcomers this offseason, emphasizing defense during free agency.

The club is expected to target a quarterback in the 1st Round of the draft later this month, though general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah probably needs to accomplish one more trade to make that happen.

32% of Vikings Starters Left This Offseason

Meanwhile, about 16 players departed via free agency — seven of them starters, or 32% (not including the kicker). These are those men listed alphabetically.

1. Kirk Cousins (QB)

Vikings QB Situation
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team = Atlanta Falcons
Replacement = Sam Darnold | Incoming Rookie QB

Cousins found the largest contract available on the open market — and pounced. He’ll quarterback the Falcons for the next four years and hope to lead Atlanta toward the postseason for the first time in seven years.

The Vikings, meanwhile, will enter a new era at quarterback with Sam Darnold and [probably] a rookie to be named in three weeks.

2. Jordan Hicks (ILB)

vikings starters
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team = Cleveland Browns
Replacement = Blake Cashman

Hicks will join a fantastic defense in Cleveland after the Vikings signed Eden Prairie native Blake Cashman for his job in free agency. Before a scary bout with compartment syndrome in 2023, Hicks performed wonderfully for the club last year.

3. Danielle Hunter (OLB)

Defender Earns Sweet
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team = Houston Texans
Replacement = Jonathan Greenard

This man was the best and most consistent player on the entire Vikings team last year, and it wasn’t very debatable. Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson battled injuries, leaving Hunter as the one steady force for nonstop Pro Bowl production.

He’ll now play in front of a hometown crowd, as Minnesota sought to get younger and cheaper at Hunter’s spot with Greenard. The Vikings and Texans basically swapped the two.

4. Alexander Mattison (RB)

RB Now Feels
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team = Las Vegas Raiders
Replacement = Aaron Jones

Mattison didn’t cut it as an RB1 with the Vikings, but with any luck, he will audition for the same job in Sin City. Only Zamir White stands in front of him on the Raiders’ depth chart unless Las Vegas uses early-to-mid-round draft capital on a rookie runner like Texas’ Jonathon Brooks or Florida State’s Trey Benson.

5. K.J. Osborn (WR)

Looming Departure
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

New Team = New England Patriots
Replacement = Trent Sherfield

The Patriots have a habit of signing wide receivers of Osborn’s caliber — all pretty decent but none outstanding. This clutch former Viking could latch on as WR2 or so in New England, leaving the Vikings’ WR3 spot totally up in the air between Jalen Nailor, Brandon Powell, Trent Sherfield, or a rookie from the draft.

6. Dalton Risner (LG)

The Dalton Risner
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

New Team = None Yet
Replacement = Blake Brandel | Incoming Rookie | Risner Personally

Risner recently hired powerhouse agent Drew Rosenhaus, so his free agency might soon cook with gas.

KFAN’s Paul Allen asked Adofo-Mensah last week about the chances of Risner returning in purple, and the young executive replied, “Where we’ve wanted to be is best available. That’s where we’ve tried to set ourselves up both in a draft and acquisition standpoint. So every option is on the table. That’s all I can say about that.”

A reunion doesn’t sound too promising.

If Risner doesn’t return, all signs point to Brandel as the 2024 starter.

7. D.J. Wonnum (OLB)

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

New Team = Carolina Panthers
Replacement = Andrew Van Ginkel

Minnesota signed the aforementioned Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel (Miami Dolphins) to replace Wonnum and Hunter, and most Vikings fans are enthusiastic about the new combo.

Yet, Brian Flores’ defense doesn’t have too much EDGE depth aside from Patrick Jones II, Andre Carter II, and newcomer Jihad Ward. Minnesota may need more outside linebacking depth from the draft or the breadcrumbs of free agency. Fortunately, a few productive veteran EDGE rushers always live on the free-agent wire.

In theory, though, if Wonnum had returned to the Vikings, this depth problem would be diminished. No cigar.

In Carolina, Wonnum is tentatively penciled in as a starter for next season, though much can change at training camp.


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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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