And Just Like That, a Pivotal Vikings Offseason Begins.

Voice Suggests Justin
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The Minnesota Vikings drought continues. The franchise hasn’t reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 2008-2009.

And Just Like That, a Pivotal Vikings Offseason Begins.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints won their respective matchups on Sunday in the early afternoon window, making the Vikings’ contest in Detroit meaningless by about 2:45 pm CST. Minnesota needed a four-team parlay to sneak into the postseason, and Tampa Bay and New Orleans ruled it out, basically right away.

Now, all eyes for the Vikings turn to the next few months, with free agency about nine weeks away and the 2024 NFL Draft at the end of April. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell will enter Year No. 3 in charge, and the “competitive rebuild” will take a significant leap.

a Pivotal Vikings
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Foremost, Minnesota must decide on Kirk Cousins’ fate. He’ll be 36 when the 2024 season begins and fresh off an Achilles tear. The man is also shrewd about acquiring fat contracts — always guaranteed — and it’s unclear if his price demand will align with the Vikings’ budget. Maybe, maybe not.

With or without Cousins — he’s getting old and could reasonably encounter an age-related decline any minute — the Vikings are on tap to draft a quarterback in Round 1 or 2 for the first time since 2014. Above all else, choosing the right rookie quarterback will dictate Vikings football for the next 4-15 years.

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Thereafter, Justin Jefferson needs an elephantine contract. His representation and the Vikings’ front office couldn’t agree on a deal last summer, instead plopping the matter on the early-offseason docket — also known as now. Jefferson will set the NFL record for the highest-paid non-quarterback in history, and it’s only a matter of time before the Vikings formally secure their man.

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Danielle Hunter wants an extension, too. The loyal Viking has been a part of the organization since 2015, and if Minnesota oddly doesn’t want to prolong his stay, Brian Flores’ defense would limp into the offseason with two EDGE defenders under contract: Patrick Jones and Andre Carter. Not ideal.

Are Evaluators Not Watching Danielle Hunter?
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Speaking of Flores, he could theoretically gain head coaching steam, especially if the New England Patriots’ top job opens. The Vikings’ defense started poorly in 2023, got really, really hot in the middle, and collapsed in the final four games. There won’t be a bonanza for Flores’ services, but the Patriots connection — he spent 15 years in Foxboro — checks out.

Finally, while hopefully improving the defense with coaching continuity and new personnel, the Vikings must fix their ground game. Ty Chandler looked great at times; Alexander Mattison struggled as an RB1. Vikings football will never become high-octane without a competent running game.

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The Vikings enter this consequential offseason with about $37 million in cap space, which is around the amount Cousins will request.

NFL free agency begins on March 15th.

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).

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