Major Questions to Answer for Vikings in Crucial Offseason

Judgment Day
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It is over. The Minnesota Vikings will not make a trip to the playoffs as they failed to qualify for the division title or a wildcard spot. With Kirk Cousins going down injured, the team was incapable of winning games, proving that there are some holes on the roster, too many to carry the team to the tournament with a bunch of backups under center.

Major Questions to Answer for Vikings in Crucial Offseason

But as soon as the season is over, the decision-makers must put it in the past as the upcoming offseason is one of the most significant in franchise history. The organization’s trajectory comes down to a few decisions.

Who’s the Next QB?

Major Questions to Answer for Vikings in Crucial Offseason
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Cousins is scheduled to become a free agent in March and is coming off a torn Achilles at age 35, do the Vikings want to re-sign him or move in a different direction after six years of partnership? He has proven that he is an important puzzle piece in Minnesota but at some point, the Vikes must look to find his successor. April’s draft is perfect for that with many promising passers in this year’s class.

GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was reportedly aggressive last year in finding a young passer so he might repeat that this season. Caleb Williams and Drake Maye are regarded as the top QB talents but that would likely require a costly trade into the top picks. Heisman winner Jayden Daniels and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. are rising up draft boards and Bo Nix and J.J. McCarthy could also be candidates.

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The regime enters its third offseason and with Jaren Hall and Nick Mullens as the only QBs under contract, it is the right time to find a new franchise quarterback. However, they could also opt to keep Cousins for another year and possibly beyond that.

Drafting the wrong guy can set an organization back for years but so does refusing to select one.

It will be the most interesting question to answer this offseason and it guarantees a fun next few months in Vikings circles.

What to Do With Danielle Hunter?

Danielle Hunter has been a great player for the Vikings ever since former GM Rick Spielman pulled the trigger in 2015. But just like Cousins, he will be a free agent soon. The franchise must decide if they want to keep the Pro Bowler or if it is time to move on.

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Well, Hunter has certainly earned a new deal after racking up a career-high 16.5 sacks in his contract year. So it should be a no-brainer. Well, it isn’t as Hunter could command a hefty salary in the neighborhood of $30 million per season, in the range of players like T.J. Watt or Nick Bosa. Defenders like that just don’t become available in free agency often, so Hunter’s asking price might be significant.

The Vikings will also lose D.J. Wonnum and Marcus Davenport to free agency, barring contract extensions, leaving Patrick Jones and Andre Carter as the lone edge rushers under contract so keeping Hunter should be a priority. But can they find common ground?

Who Will Coordinate the Defense?

With Brian Flores replacing Ed Donatell, the Vikes changed play-callers a year ago after an abysmal defensive performance in 2022 for the third straight year. That unit was up and down in 2023, looking like an elite group in the middle stretch of the season after a bad start but regression hit Flores late in the year and the defense once again was a terrible group.

Why the Vikings Would
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Did Flores’ scheme get solved by the league or was the lack of talent on defense just too much to overcome? Probably both. The former head coach of the Dolphins could be in line to get another shot at a head coaching gig after turning around Minnesota’s defense. Players speak highly about him and his leadership skills. He also has some experience which is quite valuable for a head coach.

If he indeed moves on, there is nothing the Vikings can do about it. It is a normal procedure in the NFL and they must find his successor. Whether that guy would already be on the staff or an outside hire remains to be seen in the case of Flores’ departure but continuity with a good coach is undoubtedly the preferred choice.

Does Justin Jefferson Get his Deal?

It was the major talker in the previous offseason but this is the year the Vikings must get it done with Justin Jefferson under contract for only one more season and the franchise will surely try to prevent both losing him for nothing or triggering the undesired franchise tag for the superstar.

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Jefferson continues to log huge numbers, gaining 1,000 yards for the fourth straight time while also starting to become a true leader of the team, moderating questions about his future and the future of the passing position with ease and without any controversies.

Rarely has a star player ever been such a good personality off the field and the Vikings must find a way to keep him long-term but that would likely require another huge salary with Tyreek Hill as the top-earning wideout in the league at $30 million annually.

But he is the face of the franchise and everything besides extending his contract would be a catastrophic development for the Vikings.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt