The Top 5 Disappointments for Vikings in 2023

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If the Minnesota Vikings knock off the Detroit Lions in Week 18 alongside a loss by the Green Bay Packers to the Chicago Bears, an Arizona Cardinals win over the Seattle Seahawks, and either a Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New Orleans Saints loss, Minnesota would go to the postseason.

That’s also known as a Week 18 Hail Mary.

The Top 5 Disappointments for Vikings in 2023

The year is winding down for the Vikings, and the offseason could begin as early as Sunday night or Monday morning, depending on one’s perception.

And to put 2023 in the rearview, here are the Vikings’ top five disappointments in 2023, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most disappointing).

5. Jalen Nailor (WR)

5 Disappointments
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

With Justin Jefferson injured for seven games, and K.J. Osborn often a nonfactor, 2023 was a golden opportunity for Nailor, a second-year wideout, to bust out into stardom.

He didn’t.

Nailor was beset by concussions and rarely played a role in the Vikings’ offense. Minnesota will probably need a WR3 in the next couple of months and had Nailor tallied a few hundred yards, he would’ve nominated himself as the possible WR3 in 2024. No cigar. All told, Nailor has played in 6 games, with 3 catches for 29 yards. Almost a shutout.

4. K.J. Osborn (WR)

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Like Nailor, Osborn didn’t step up too much during Jefferson’s absence, and when he tried, drops often plagued his fourth season as a pro.

Entering the regular season, Osborn was the Vikings’ WR2 on paper, a laughable thought now as Addison has left him in the dust per production. The Miami alumnus certainly didn’t produce a miserable campaign or anything of the sort, but 531 receiving yards won’t move the needle for a WR2 and perhaps not even for a WR3.

Osborn is scheduled to hit free agency in March, and he did little in 2023 to suggest that Minnesota would hand him a large second contract.

3. Lewis Cine (S)

Lewis Cine Is Doing
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Cine broke his leg 15 months ago, fully recovered last spring and summer, and then couldn’t win a starter’s job in 2023. In fact, Cine has only played eight defensive snaps in his second season — all garbage time last weekend against the Green Bay Packers. He’s simply not been a factor — at all — for the 2023 Vikings.

Of course, Minnesota has safeties galore between Harrison Smith, Josh Metellus, Camryn Bynum, and Theo Jackson. In that vein, Cine isn’t really needed. But as a 1st-Rounder, the man should play some of the time.

Folks will figure out this summer and early in the 2024 regular season if Cine is truly a bust or just a late bloomer who broke his leg.

2. Alexander Mattison (RB)

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Mattison averages 45.1 rushing yards per game, and he’s served as the Vikings’ RB1 for most of 2023. Just 676 yards on the ground won’t cut it as a go-to running back unless the RB2 has 650 yards or so.

It seems Minnesota made a mistake in re-upping with Mattison for a second contract, although he’s a great pass-blocker and locker-room presence. In the end, Mattison is best served as an RB2, like he was from 2019 to 2022 behind Dalvin Cook.

The Vikings will likely invest a 2nd- or 3rd-Round draft pick in a halfback if they don’t find a trustworthy option in free agency.

1. Marcus Davenport (OLB)

Contribution from Free
Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marcus Davenport addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Davenport joined the Vikings in March of 2023 after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

Davenport played great — when he was available.

But he only saw action in four games, which was really three because his Week 2 showing lasted about four snaps. Davenport suffered a high ankle sprain in October and then just never returned. The team’s coaching staff appeared to believe Davenport would return to the starting lineup. That never happened.

Some have even questioned his work ethic, though that’s just hearsay.

Minnesota spent $13 million on Davenport for one season, and he didn’t pan out.


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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