The 3 Most Fascinating Under the Radar FA Decisions for Vikings

The Vikings Top Defensive Performers at Commanders, per PFF
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings’ offseason, rightfully so, has been dominated by a few dominoes, ones unresolved as of February 20th.

The 3 Most Fascinating Under the Radar FA Decisions for Vikings

These are the top matters in the Vikings’ orbit at the moment:

  1. Kirk Cousins’ free agency and future in Minnesota.
  2. Justin Jefferson’s extension.
  3. Danielle Hunter’s free agency and future in Minnesota.
  4. Harrison Smith’s 13th season or retirement.
  5. Minnesota’s preference with its 1st-Round draft pick.

And while those items will be tremendously impactful, a handful of under-the-radar free-agency items loom.

Subtract Any
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Listed in no particular order, these are those.

1. Will Jordan Hicks Return as a Starting ILB?

Most Fascinating Under
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have one spot of the inside linebacking corps squared away: his name is Ivan Pace Jr.

But next to the young standout defender, Minnesota could re-sign Hicks, who performed marvelously before battling compartment syndrome down the stretch of 2023, or promote 2022 3rd-Rounder Brian Asamoah.

The club could also sign a different off-ball linebacker on the open market, as those men are usually available in any given offseason and don’t break the banks like EDGE rushers, for example. Hicks can be gettable for the Vikings roster in 2024 at an affordable sum, but he’ll be 32 by the time the regular season starts. Based on his 2023 performance, he deserves a purple sequel.

2. What’s Dalton Risner’s Price Tag?

Expect 2 Areas
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.

Most Vikings fans have settled on bringing Risner back for a second act in 2024 as a no-brainer. But he won’t be as affordable as when he signed midseason last year. To prolong Risner’s stint in purple, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah might have to dust off the checkbook. Risner’s price in 2023 was affordable, probably because the regular season was in full swing when signed on the Vikings’ dotted line, but this go-round will cost more, according to Pro Football Focus.

PFF’s Brad Spielberger projected Risner fetching a three-year deal worth a total of $24 million and $15 million in guarantees last month, a price a bit higher than most Vikings fans had in mind. The hypothetical deal from PFF would make Risner the NFL’s eighth-highest-paid left guard.

Spielberger explained, “Risner’s 2023 free agency didn’t pan out as he’d hoped, so he bided his time before joining the Minnesota Vikings a few weeks into the season on a one-year flier. Risner quickly supplanted Ezra Cleveland at left guard and has been a plus pass protector for the fifth season in a row.”

It is unclear if the Vikings want to spend that much on a guard.

Interestingly, the man Risner replaced, Ezra Cleveland, will be a free agent, too, in three weeks, and he played 3.5 seasons in Minnesota.

3. Is It Time for a New Kicker?

Kicker Situation
Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) kicks a field goal at the beginning of the second quarter against the Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

In back-to-back seasons, Joseph has ranked in the NFL’s bottom six per field goal accuracy percentage. Indeed, he’s clutch with the game on the line, but it’s also vital for a kicker to hit “normal” field goals.

Serving as the Vikings kicker since the start of 2021, Joseph is always kind of the same guy, with the personality trait for game-winning kicks and a humongous meh outside of pressure-cooked situations.

Ka’imi Fairbairn, Will Lutz, Greg Zuerlein, Nick Folk, and Brandon McManus, among others, are scheduled to hit free agency on March 11th. Minnesota could also use the draft for a kicker like Will Reichard of Alabama.

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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