Dustin Baker’s Endorsement + Plan for Vikings’ 2024 Offseason

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The Minnesota Vikings offseason is underway, with about seven weeks until free agency and slightly over three months before the 2024 NFL Draft.

The club will undergo tremendous change in an offseason where it will flirt with shedding the “rebuild” adjective from its competitive rebuild strategy.

Dustin Baker’s Endorsement + Plan for Vikings’ 2024 Offseason

The outcome will differ wildly from the following endorsement + plan, but this is the preferred result for the future.

Please Note: These are not predictions. This is a general endorsement.

Let Kirk Cousins Walk

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After the Vikings lost in the playoffs last year, a brand new element entered “The Cousins Debate” — age. He turned 35 last summer and has arrived at a career stage where he could begin encountering injuries or a performance-related decline at any minute.

Then, he got hurt in October.

Cousins should heal up just fine, but the man is notorious for commanding large contracts with guaranteed money sums. The Vikings require financial flexibility this offseason, needing to outfit the defense with new blood and extend other players’ contracts. Meanwhile, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell would risk “doing the same thing over and over again” at quarterback if Cousins is re-signed, attaching their job security to a passer who’s help generated two playoff appearances in six years.

It’s time to start fresh at the sport’s more important position — more on that later.

Extend Justin Jefferson

Opponents in 2024
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This is a no-brainer — not from VikingsTerritory but from the Vikings’ leadership. For a year, the team’s ownership, general manager, and coaching staff have affirmed a desire to sign Jefferson for the long haul. Soon, they actually have to put pen to paper.

Make it official and sign Jefferson in the ballpark of four years and $120 million.

Re-Sign Danielle Hunter and 11 Others

Unveils Latest Danielle Hunter
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Minnesota should be able to re-sign Danielle Hunter for a contract akin to three years and $66 million. Retaining Hunter is close to a requirement; otherwise, the Vikings would have no starting outside linebackers entering 2024. Not ideal.

Continue the Hunter relationship and sign these players as the in-house free-agent class:

  • Blake Brandel (OL)
  • Danielle Hunter (OLB)
  • Theo Jackson (S)
  • Johhny Mundt (TE)
  • Nick Muse (TE)
  • Dalton Risner (LG)
  • Brandon Powell (WR)
  • David Quessenberry (OT)
  • Austin Schlottmann (OL)
  • Khyiris Tonga (DT)
  • Oli Udoh (OT)
  • D.J. Wonnum (OLB)

Let These FAs Depart

so long
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This endorsement operates under the pretense that Harrison Smith will retire or accept another paycut. His $19.2 million cap number for 2024 is too rich for the Vikings’ blood.

So, with or without Smith’s retirement or paycut, Minnesota should let these men venture to free agency, where they’ll sign with new teams:

  • Cam Akers (RB)
  • Anthony Barr (LB)
  • Jonathan Bullard (DL)
  • Kirk Cousins (QB)
  • Marcus Davenport (OLB)
  • Joshua Dobbs (QB)
  • Troy Dye (LB)
  • Jordan Hicks (LB)
  • Greg Joseph (K)
  • James Lynch (DL)
  • K.J. Osborn (WR)
  • Chris Reed (OG)
  • T.J. Smith (DT)

Sign These FAs

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Highlight the incoming free-agent class with EDGE rusher Bryce Huff from the New York Jets. Adofo-Mensah can probably acquire Huff for a three-year, $51 million deal or so. The Vikings could also add a WR3, DT, and CB,

The team will sign more players than this, but it should headline the newcomers with these men:

Bryce Huff, DT (NYJ) | 3-Year, $61 million
Chidobe Awuzie, CB (CIN) | 2-Year, $22 million
Maurice Hurst, DT (CLE) | 3-Year, $12 million
Rashid Shaheed, WR (NO) | 2-Year, $6 million

Trade the Farm for Drake Maye

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This is where the fun starts.

This endorsement already outlined letting Cousins walk to free agency, so the club needs a replacement quarterback. The Vikings should trade up to the No. 2 or No. 3 spot in the draft, sending a king’s ransom to the Washington Commanders or New England Patriots for Drake Maye.

The trade could look like this:

Vikings Get
Drake Maye

Commanders Get
2024 1st-Rounder
2025 1st-Rounder
2024 2nd-Rounder
2025 2nd-Rounder

It’s expensive, but think of it this way:

  1. If Maye is the real deal, no one will care how much the trade costs (see: Patrick Mahomes in 2017).
  2. If Maye is a bust, the Vikings’ draft picks will begin returning by the time that determination is made.

Select This Draft Class

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Ergo, with reduced draft capital, the Vikings’ 2024 draft can entail these men:

R1: Drake Maye (QB, North Carolina)
R4: Bucky Irving (RB, Oregon)
R4: Javion Cohen (OG, Miami)
R5: Keith Randolph Jr. (DL. Illinois)

R5: Justin Walley (CB, Minnesota)
R6: Ty’Ron Hopper (LB, Missouri)
R6: Will Reichard (K, Alabama)
R7: Steele Chambers
(LB, Ohio State)

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.