ESPN Assigns Vikings Horrible Offseason Grade

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

It is not a fan, so much so that it ranked the Minnesota Vikings’ offseason as the fourth-worst in the NFL.

ESPN Assigns Vikings Horrible Offseason Grade

That’s ESPN, and it revealed its offseason grades this week, assigning Minnesota a measly C-. The only teams with an offseason grade lower than the Vikings’ included the Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders, and New Orleans Saints.

Danielle Hunter
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

The Philadelphia Eagles led the way as the only club to receive a solid A.

ESPN’s Seth Walder weighed in unenthusiastically about the Vikings’ trade for outside linebacker Dallas Turner — the price was steep — the pre-draft trade with the Houston Texans, and claimed the purple team bungled the compensatory pick process regarding Danielle Hunter to the Houston Texans.

“They signed Sam Darnold, who made sense as a useful stopgap but nothing more. But their eyes were set on the rookies. At first blush the team’s move to surrender a future second-round pick to move up from 42 to 23 seemed odd,” Walder explained. “What Minnesota gave up was worth more than what it got back — but the assumption was that it was part of a larger package with the No. 11 pick to trade up into the early part of the first round for a QB. When it became apparent that wasn’t the case, the move looked illogical.”

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy looks to pass against Georgia during the second half of the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Minnesota conducted the trade with Houston in March to provide itself flexibility in the draft. When Drake Maye wasn’t for sale via trade — or the price was too high — general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pivoted to McCarthy of Michigan.

“That the Vikings were not able to trade up into the top three isn’t on them — it takes two to tango — and they deserve credit for holding out and not trading up for McCarthy until they were one pick away, flipping spots with the Jets and picking him at 10,” Walder continued, “But later in the first round, the team traded a ton of value to move up from 23 to 17 for Turner. It was a very pricey trade in its own right, but if we consider the entire move from 42 to 17 and combine the two trades, it was an overwhelming price to pay.”

draft grade
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Indeed, Turner’s trade price tag was extremely expensive, and he must hit as a long-term starter — probably a Pro Bowler to make the deal worthwhile.

Finally, Walder chided Adofo-Mensah’s handling of the compensatory pick strategy, “The Vikings made an egregious error in free agency with regard to compensatory picks according to Nick Korte of OverTheCap, who asserted that the team will lose out on a projected third-round compensatory pick for Hunter because it signed cornerback Shaquill Griffin to a one-year, $4.6 million contract.”

In May, Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling refuted the OverTheCap theory. Goessling told KFAN, “I was told yesterday that Shaq Griffin did not cost them. I mean, this idea that Shaq Griffin directly cost them a third-round pick, I was told this is not true. I don’t think it’s quite that simple. I don’t know that they’re going to end up with two of them at this point, but I was told by people in the know that this is not the case.”

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Generally speaking, whether one agrees with Walder’s unkind assessment of the Vikings’ offseason is nearly irrelevant. The future of the franchise, for now, rests on McCarthy’s shoulders. If he’s the real deal, the 2024 offseason will appear marvelous in hindsight. The inverse — if McCarthy stinks or is mediocre — would make the last few months look awful. Stay tuned.

Vikings training camp kicks off in about five weeks.

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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