6 Predictions for the Vikings’ First Offseason Domino

Another Stunning
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NFL free agency begins in 43 days, with the draft 12.5 weeks away.

6 Predictions for the Vikings’ First Offseason Domino

Sooner or later, the team’s first offseason domino will fall, and Minnesota will be off to the races, formulating a roster for 2024. We asked VikingsTerritory writers for a prediction regarding the first offseason domino — the major event to get the ball rolling — and these were the responses.

1. The Decision on Harrison Smith

6 Predictions
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Prediction Maker: Kyle Joudry

The first major domino to fall will be the Harrison Smith decision. Almost guaranteed, there is going to be some form of cut. Either he gets cut by the team, or there is a substantial pay cut. The Hitman is a franchise legend, but the team has been positioning itself to move on.

2. The Cousins Decision

Cousins to NFC
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Prediction Maker: Wes Johnson

The first domino to fall will be a significant decision surrounding the quarterback position. Nothing else really matters. It all starts at QB, be it a return of Cousins or an “all-in” chip push on draft day.

Cousins, a free agent, is likely to be highly pursued by the Falcons as he has family ties to the area and an incoming OC stemming from the McVay tree. The Vikings will need to be quick and deliberate with their decisions.

3. Harrison Smith Released

We Seen
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Prediction Maker: Ali Siddiqui

Harrison Smith will be released. He’ll get a post-June 1st cut. This will save the team $15.3 million. It will be tough to say goodbye to the Hitman. He’s been with the team since 2012 and has been one of the best safeties in the league, but he’s declining and will be 35.

It’s best to move on and get the additional cap space. Even if they don’t sign or draft a replacement for him, they have Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus, who are also good safeties. Maybe Smith will retire, but it will be a shock if he’s back, especially at his current cap number.

t4. Vikings Let Cousins Walk

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker: Janik Eckardt

Kirk Cousins is Minnesota’s first offseason domino. The Vikings must either extend his contract or draft his successor in April. If they decide he’s out as the franchise quarterback, they must make sure to get a decent prospect; trading up is an option. Because the regime Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell want to find their guy, they will select a QB early in the draft and move on from Cousins.

t4. Vikings Let Cousins Walk

Is a Different Veteran QB Viable for the Vikings?
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Prediction Maker: Cole Smith

The first significant offseason domino to drop in Vikingsville will be Kirk Cousins taking his talents elsewhere. Every subsequent offseason acquisition hinges on his decision to either come back or leave. But with even the more pro-Cousins media members chatting about the possibility of him moving on, I believe that this offseason is the year that he signs with a team willing to sign him to a bigger deal than the Vikings are willing to offer.

t5. Dalton Risner Returns

Viking May Not Be Back
Former Denver Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner on Monday Night Football during his first start with the Minnesota Vikings. U.S. Bank Stadium, October 23rd, 2023. Risner started for an injured Ezra Cleveland.

Prediction Maker: Adam New

Dalton Risner’s ability to keep opposing pass rushers from getting to the Vikings QB is a valuable commodity — one the Vikings have sorely missed in recent years and can’t allow to walk out the door. Risner’s return will be a lot more expensive than his first season, but he proved himself worthy of a long-term deal, and with some salary cap gymnastics, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signs him up nice and early.

t5. Dalton Risner Returns

Even National Voices
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Prediction Maker: Nate Powalie

Dalton Risner inks an extension in Minnesota. For a guy who was a midseason free agency pick-up, Risner immediately was a plug-and-play person who fell in love with his new digs. It will be a two or three-year extension.

t6. Justin Jefferson Re-Signed

Predicts Unthinkable
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Prediction Maker: Dustin Baker

This could break in three ways: Cousins fate determined, Danielle Hunter extended, or Jefferson extended.

Jefferson’s extension is the clearest no-brainer of them all, and Minnesota will check it first off the list. The deal will be beefy, at least $30 million per season, and no Vikings fan will lament it.

The Vikings attach Jefferson to the roster for at least the next four years, perfectly aligning his stay with the remainder of Jordan Addison’s rookie contract.

t6. Justin Jefferson Re-Signed

15 Injury Report
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Prediction Maker: Ted Schwerzler

Justin Jefferson gets his deal. With the belief that Kirk is waiting for a payday, he won’t jump at the Vikings’ first offer. Minnesota knows they’ll need to pay Jefferson handsomely, and they aren’t going to cheap out on the dotted line.

t6. Justin Jefferson Re-Signed

3 Outlandish
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Prediction Maker: Josh Frey

The Vikings shouldn’t do much this offseason before getting a contract extension for their best player. Justin Jefferson is the heart and soul of their offense, and before they progress too far with other deals, they need to reach an agreement with the star receiver.

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.