5 Things We Learned about the 2024 Vikings from Free Agency

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Some Minnesota Vikings mysteries were solved in the last 3.5 weeks, as free agency turns one month old on April 11th.

5 Things We Learned about the 2024 Vikings from Free Agency

Sixteen players ventured elsewhere (so far), while 14 newcomers signed on the Vikings’ dotted line. You can read the list here.

With those 30+ transactions complete, these are the five things we learned about the 2024 Vikings in the last month since free agency kicked off, ranked in ascending order of importance (No. 1 = most impactful).

5. No Tolerance for Mediocrity at Kicker

Free Agency
Ryan Hunt-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings decided to move on from Greg Joseph, probably because, overall, he ranked as a bottom-six kicker during the last two seasons. He hit kicks with games on the line — he should absolutely be applauded for that and will probably do so for the Green Bay Packers if he makes the team this summer — but his overall field goal kicking and extra point percentage frankly stunk.

Now, Minnesota has XFL standout Parker Romo on the roster, and barring a rookie addition later this month, it’s Romo’s job henceforth.

Minnesota gave Joseph one more audition in 2023. And although he wasn’t totally awful, he wasn’t good enough for a fourth season in purple. The Vikings opted for change at kicker.

4. Defensive Tackle Not Important

Vikings Offseason
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

KSTP’s Darren Wolfson explained on SKOR North’s Mackey and Judd Show a week and a half ago, “O’Connell alluded to this on Monday, just how much work, how much the Vikings were in on some of these defensive tackles, namely Christian Wilkins. Like, what the Raiders gave Wilkins, I think surprised the Vikings. Those 48 hours leading into the official start of free agency, like I’m telling you, the Vikings were feeling very, very good about their chances of landing Christian Wilkins.”

But Minnesota did not sign Wilkins, Arik Armstead, Grover Stewart, Leonard Williams, etc. The Vikings had very tangible DT options during free agency — and ended up with Jerry Tillery, Jonah Williams, and Jonathan Bullard.

The franchise either has a sleeper plan for DT and the draft — or a high-profile player at that position just isn’t vital in a Brian Flores-led defense.

3. Fixing the Run Game a Priority

vikings roster
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Jones, a Vikings free-agent newcomer at running back, battled injury for much of the 2023 season, but when he returned to health in December and January, he turned white hot, helping the Packers clinch a playoff berth and later knock off the Dallas Cowboys in Texas during the NFC’s Wildcard Round.

Meanwhile, Minnesota struggled again in 2023 to establish a productive ground game — a major problem because Kevin O’Connell’s offense will never cook with spices without a competent rushing attack.

Minnesota put its foot down by paying Jones $7 million for one year and will now rely on Ty Chandler or a rookie to be named later as the fix-all. Jones is a more certain repair.

2. Free Agency Was All about Defense

1 Primary Position
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores chatting with Tatum Everett on February 15th, 2023. The Vikings hired Flores from the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was a linebackers coach for one season.

The Vikings opened free agency with a bang on the first day, adding Jonathan Greenard (OLB, Houston Texans), Andrew Van Ginkel (OLB, Miami Dolphins), and Blake Cashman (ILB, Houston Texans).

Those were the team’s first three additions, a signal that defense was on the agenda.

Of course, Minnesota later signed Sam Darnold and Aaron Jones, but defense was the foremost priority. In one season, Flores flipped the league’s 24th-ranked defense per DVOA up to the No. 11 spot. With any luck — plus the new personnel — the Vikings’ defense can nibble at or enter the Top 10.

1. The Competitive Rebuild Is Almost Done

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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, along with head coach Kevin O’Connell, spoke to reporters in January at an end-of-season press conference, and the duo was asked where the team is right now in the competitive rebuild. The answer? Well, the “rebuild” noun could soon drop from the team’s billboard. With a productive offseason, Minnesota could be simply competitive by September.

“The point of that was to still provide ourselves a chance in the tournament every year while regaining financial flexibility, finding the next generation of great Vikings players, incorporating our systems that we value so much. I think when you look back at it, I think we’ve done a lot of positives. We gained some of our financial flexibility, we have competed to be in the tournament last year as the division champions, and this year, through adversity, we had a lot of meaningful games late,” Adofo-Mensah explained with O’Connell at his side.

He added, “And there are some things we need to be better at, no question. I think you want to get to a point, from a depth, from a top-end standpoint, where you can overcome the adversity. Right now in the competitive rebuild, we want to get to a place where there’s no rebuild. It’s just competitive in a window. And I think we’re close to that, it’s gonna take a big offseason, it’s why we’re gonna be here a lot. I think it’s important, it’s key, and I’m excited for the challenge.”

Two months later, Adofo-Mensah fired off a trade, grabbing an additional 1st-Round pick from the Houston Texans while offloading two 2nd-Rounders in the deal, plus a late-round pick swap. And that was after Kirk Cousins left in free agency.

When the Vikings strike in the draft for their quarterback of the future, the competitive rebuild will be complete — and everyone will hope the formula sets the franchise up for sustained success like, for example, the Buffalo Bills from 2018 to present.

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.