6 Players Entering Final Season with Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings embark on training camp in six weeks and are less than three months away from the start of the regular season.

6 Players Entering Final Season with Vikings

The team finished 7-10 in 2023 and will hope to improve on that mark with some combination of Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy at quarterback.

Meanwhile, several Vikings players — over 35 — will be free agents next March, and these are six notable players scheduled to enter their final season with the club. Players who just signed (Sam Darnold and Aaron Jones, for example) were not included. The players are listed in ascending order (No. 1 = most important Viking entering final contract year).

6. Patrick Jones II (OLB)

final season
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The Vikings suddenly have “too much” EDGE depth, particularly if UDFA Gabriel Murphy performs well this summer. That puts men like Patrick Jones II, Andre Carter II, and Jihad Ward on the roster bubble.

Jones II could be on the summer chopping block, and 2024 is, incidentally, the final year of his rookie deal.

5. Kene Nwangwu (RB | KR)

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Nwangwu may benefit from the NFL’s reformed kickoff return rule. And he might need that to continue his Vikings career. Minnesota rarely uses the speed demon on offense, so if Nwangwu doesn’t make splash plays on special teams, he could be on the way out after 2024.

4. Byron Murphy (CB)

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This one may be merely in spirit. Murphy could be back in 2025. He recently told KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, “I gotta say, since I’ve been here since day one, I fell in love, so I don’t want to go nowhere. I want to stay here for the rest of my career. So I’m gonna try to work my ass off to stay here for sure.”

Otherwise, Murphy signed a two-year deal last offseason, making 2024 the final season in Minnesota, at least for now.

3. Camryn Bynum (S)

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Bynum’s presence on this list could be moot by the end of the summer. Minnesota could extend his contract before Week 1, as his rookie deal expires after the 2024 campaign.

After one year of deployment in Brian Flores’ defense, Bynum ranked as one of the NFL’s best safeties per Pro Football Focus, checking it at No. 22 among peers at his position. He should command a decent contract extension before too long, but if not, 2024 is the last hurrah in Minnesota for Bynum.

2. Harrison Phillips (DT)

Harrison Phillips Had
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Phillips came aboard at the dawn of the Kevin O’Connell era, and this season is the final of a three-year deal. A wonderful teammate, person, and football player, Phillips has helped hold down the guts of Minnesota’s defensive line for two years running.

He turned 28 in January and will likely be re-upped this summer or next offseason. However, if none of that occurs, he’d hit open free agency in March.

1. Harrison Smith (S)

harrison smith
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Smith is 35 years old, and based on his hard-hitting playing style, it’s a gridiron marvel that he’s still playing and at a relatively high level.

Any season, though, could be his last. His actions have proved he wishes to remain a Viking for life. So, unlike others on this list, Smith’s “final season” chatter isn’t about impending free agency; it’s about retirement. The end is nigh for Smith, even though he made it a no-brainer to return for 2024.

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 MIN obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Basset Hounds, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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