4 Huge Vikings Items Remain a Mystery

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Nine days remain until the beginning of free agency, and the 2024 NFL Combine is winding down in Indianapolis.

4 Huge Vikings Items Remain a Mystery

The Minnesota Vikings reportedly released Alexander Mattison this week, a shot-fired moment in the team’s offseason where the franchise hopes to eliminate the “rebuild” part of its competitive rebuild roster-building phase.

After Mattison’s release, though, four huge Vikings items remain a mystery. With one week to go before free agency, these are the mysteries ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = the almighty mystery).

4. Harrison Smith — Stay or Go?

4 Huge Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Like many Vikings offseason items, this one is truly up in the air.

Smith isn’t the same player that the world experienced in 2017, for example, but he’s also 35. Safeties in their mid-30s diminish, but Smith’s decline hasn’t been as harsh as most. That’s why he’s a borderline Hall of Famer.

The only way Smith might retire — or join a non-Vikings team — is if it’s quite evident that Minnesota won’t contend in 2024. And, yes, that boils down to the quarterback decision.

Smith loves the sport, the Vikings, and can still serve a starter’s role in Brian Flores’ innovative defense. We bet he’ll be back for one final hurrah, although at a reduced price.

3. Will Danielle Hunter Be Back?

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

Hunter has said a few times in the last year that his goal is to remain a Viking for life. He was also a popular trade candidate last October. But the Vikings didn’t trade him and probably could’ve netted a 2nd-Round draft pick for him when their record was in the toilet.

Based on Hunter’s desire to return, it’s probably more likely that he re-ups in Minnesota. However, he’ll be coveted on the open market, rest assured.

If there were no such thing as Kirk Cousins, Vikings fans would be on pins and needles over Hunter Watch.

2. Justin Jefferson’s Extension — When and How Much?

a successful season
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings’ brass smacked down any would-be trade talk that the internet created regarding Jefferson in the last month. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took the microphone at the NFL Combine this week, stated a deal is going to happen, and recognized that Jefferson deserves to be paid handsomely.

Yet, Vikings loyalists have heard this for a year. Sooner or later, Minnesota has to sit down and finish off the deal. So, everyone’s wondering when and how much that will be. Stay tuned.

1. Does Kirk Cousins Return for a 7th Season?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

One of the mightiest Vikings-themed offseason dominoes in years — probably since Cousins signed in the first place six years ago — the entire course of the purple offseason is tied to the Cousins verdict. If Minnesota parts ways with him, a new era will firmly be underway in the Twin Cities. Re-signing Cousins would tip the cap to the front office’s belief that it can win a Super Bowl with Cousins. Because if they don’t feel that way, why the hell sign him for a seventh year?

The Vikings, a franchise that has struggled with quarterback instability since Fran Tarkenton retired nearly 50 years ago, have an elephant-in-the-room choice on Cousins. Should they cut ties, Minnesota is next to guaranteed to draft his successor in eight weeks.

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.