Who Will Be The Vikings #1 Target in Free Agency?

Vikings Offseason
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, the Super Bowl just ended last week, which means it is the offseason for all 32 teams.

NFL free agency is set to start in three weeks. Obviously, the biggest question for the Minnesota Vikings in 2024 is the quarterback position. Will Kirk Cousins be back for his seventh season with the team? Who will they draft, regardless of whether he is back or not?

Who Will Be The Vikings #1 Target in Free Agency?

There are still plenty of other questions to be answered throughout this offseason. Whether Justin Jefferson gets extended is another huge question, as is what happens to Danielle Hunter.

One of them, as always for every team, is who will be their no. 1 target in free agency? One very intriguing name was safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Besides the fact that he is a very good player, his father, Antoine Sr., was a standout cornerback for Minnesota from 2004-2012. Antoine Jr. also has other Minnesota ties; he played his college ball for the Golden Gophers.

Target in Free
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

The possible scenario ended Monday, though. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are reportedly expected to put the franchise tag on him.

Harrison Smith has been one of the star players on this team for the past 12 seasons, but it is hard to see him being back with the team. Maybe he will retire, or perhaps he will be released and finish his career elsewhere. He is 35 years old and is due $19.215 million. Minnesota will save $15.3 million if he receives the post-June 1 release. While he has done a lot for the organization, it is time to move on.

While Cameron Bynum and Josh Metellus are good safeties, it would still have been the right decision to go after Winfield Jr. The more playmakers, the better. Bynum could have then continued to start, and Metellus could have kept being moved around as a safety and linebacker.

According to Over the Cap, Minnesota has over $24 million to spend. Rob Brzezinski, though, is known for being a cap wizard and should find ways to create plenty more room. Going after a running back is a definite possibility. Alexander Mattison proved he is not a no.1 back, and while Ty Chandler has shown some flashes, it is still early to say that he could also be a featured back.

Among the free-agent running backs available are Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, and Derrick Henry.

They may not spend big on a running back, and they should not, especially given the other question marks. Henry is 30 years old, so he should not cost as much as Barkley, Jacobs, and Pollard. They can also find a running back in the draft, and it is not as difficult of a position to find as most others.

Vikings Can Face 4 Teams
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Even if Cousins is back in 2024, he will be 36 years old and coming off an Achilles tear. That might lead Minnesota to be more willing to sign a running back. Given that he has a dead cap of $28.5 million, it definitely complicates things overall.

Best case scenario would be for them to bring him back for a year or two, but only for the right price. They could then have the rookie quarterback sit behind him before being handed the keys full-time.

Hunter has a dead cap of $14.906 million.

There is a good chance that Minnesota will not spend big on any free agents, even if both Hunter and Cousins are gone. Maybe they will still make a big free agent signing no matter what, but given they also want to re-sign Jefferson, they may pass on the idea of adding a big name.

How about adding a defensive tackle next to Harrison Phillips? Could they be interested in Chris Jones, Justin Madubuike, or Christian Wilkins? All may very likely be well out of their price range though, but maybe they will find a way. Leonard Williams would have a better chance of being signed by them than those three. Grover Stewart is a name to watch, too.

Cornerbacks L’Jarius Sneed, Kendall Fuller, and Chidobe Awuzie are also free agents.

Byron Murphy Jr had an ok season. Akayleb Evans was very up and down, and Andrew Booth Jr has shown some flashes but is still unproven. Mehki Blackmon had a promising rookie year, but can he be a consistent starter?

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota should make cornerback their no.1 priority in free agency. If not, they should go for a defensive tackle. Running back is a need, too, but they should not make that a higher priority, and once again, the draft would be the smartest option for one.

If both Cousins and Hunter are gone, they could start looking forward more to 2025 and 2026 rather than this year. That would be the right decision if they lose both.

Every offseason will be very critical, but this could be Minnesota’s biggest one in quite some time. This is also year three for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as the team’s general manager. How this offseason goes could determine whether he is back in 2025 or even 2026.

If they find a way to re-sign Cousins and Hunter, then it would be doubtful they spend big on a free agent. Once again, though, Brzezinski has discovered many ways to create more cap space than expected.

Brian O’Neill is also due $22.930 million this year. It’s tough to imagine him not being restructured. Other restructures could very possibly happen, too.

Buckle up, fans.


Share: