The 4 Biggest Moments of the Vikings Offseason So Far

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings offseason has slightly over 12 weeks in the books, as the club sets a draft plan for April 25th.

The 4 Biggest Moments of the Vikings Offseason So Far

Sixteen players departed via free agency, 14 newcomers joined, and most of the coaching staff remained intact. And in terms of top moments to date for Minnesota’s offseason, these are the top four, ranked in ascending order of importance (No. 1 = most important).

4. Harrison Smith Returns

Vikings Offseason
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

For a second consecutive offseason, Harrison Smith accepted a paycut to remain with the Vikings.

It’s not that Smith is necessarily a Pro Bowler anymore — he did fire up a career game at the Carolina Panthers in 2023, though — he’s just the one symbol tying the Vikings to the past and three separate coaching regimes.

Minnesota’s roster has undergone a whirlwind of change since Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell took over in 2022, and Smith is still somehow on the roster. Smith’s return was quite heartwarming, especially with the next two men on the list leaving.

3. Danielle Hunter Leaves | Signs with HOU

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The tweet that announced the end of Hunter’s nine-season career in purple:

Hunter banked a career year in 2023, his age-29 season, tabulating 16.5 sacks, a career-high. That mark also ranked fifth leaguewide, trailing T.J. Watt (19.0), Trey Hendrickson (17.5), Josh Allen (17.5), and Khalil Mack (17.0).

Now, he’ll play in front of his hometown crowd in Houston. The man was a Viking through and through, joining the purple team in 2015.

2. Kirk Cousins Walks

Kirk Cousins Out
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Kirk Cousins played wonderfully for the Vikings in six seasons, but like Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer departing two years ago, it was time to change. Kudos to Minnesota’s front office for not bowing to Cousins.

Of course, Cousins could be great in 2024 and beyond. It wouldn’t be weird at all for that to happen. But Minnesota simply couldn’t accept the risk. The organization reached the postseason twice in six seasons on his watch, not worth the hefty annual cost of his employment — even if the defense was frequently to blame.

It was time to switch things up, and Minnesota changed. Plain and simple.

1. The Trade with HOU

Judgment Day
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

On March 15th, Adofo-Mensah pulled off this trade with the Houston Texans.

Vikings Receive Draft Picks:
No. 23 (2024)
No. 232

Texans Receive Draft Picks:
No. 42 (2024)
No. 188
2025 2nd-Round pick

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah now has more 1st-Round capital in this draft than any QB-needy team to trade up the board later this month. And in all likelihood, the young executive wouldn’t have made the trade without knowing the next trade partner awaited.

Minnesota’s quarterback after the Cousins era has probably been identified, and the Vikings’ soon-to-be splash at the position to kickstart life after Cousins is about as noteworthy as it gets for a football team.

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