Vikings Are Basically Done This Season — So Now What?

3 Vikings Developments
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The Green Bay Packers flogged the Minnesota Vikings on New Year’s Eve, a 33-10 beatdown that propelled the cheese team to a postseason driver’s seat and made the Vikings’ playoff hopes a laugher.

Vikings Are Basically Done This Season — So Now What?

Minnesota must now beat the Detroit Lions next weekend while hoping the Packers lose, the Seattle Seahawks lose, and either the Saints or Buccaneers lose for it to reach the postseason. All that won’t happen, but that’s the path to the playoffs for curious minds.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Preston Smith (91) forces a fumble by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) during their football game Sunday, December 31, 2023, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. © Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The trek forward will be long — the 2024 regular season doesn’t begin for eight months — but folks can now reasonably peek at the offseason. The time has arrived.

And here’s what the Vikings must do to prepare for next season.

Above All Else, Draft the Next QB

Vikings Are Basically Done
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It’s time.

If the Vikings’ brass wants to afford Kirk Cousins another season with redemption as the goal — great. But it can still draft a quarterback in Round 1 of April’s draft. Then, like the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017 or the Packers [forever], the rookie passer can watch and learn behind Cousins for a year.

On the whole, Minnesota hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell to rebuild the organization, which ultimately lands at QB1 when the dust settles. Keeping all eggs in the Cousins basket would infringe on Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell’s job security, so the duo must select their next QB1 now. If not in 2024 — and also not in 2022 or 2023 — when?

The Vikings will be in prime territory to trade up for Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels — or stay at their organic spot and choose Michael Penix or J.J. McCarthy. Whichever 2024 rookie quarterback they enjoy, draft him in April. End of story.

Pay the Franchise Guys

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The list isn’t terribly lengthy, but it will be terribly expensive.

Justin Jefferson, Christian Darrisaw, and Danielle Hunter need new contract extensions. There is no reason to dink around and delay with any. Pay the men this offseason and prosper.

Because all Vikings-related talkers will start at quarterback — that’s how the world works in the NFL — extensions for the aforementioned three players might be put to the side momentarily. But in unison with making the QB1 decision, Minnesota must lock down its talent core.

Build on Defensive Improvement

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Brian Flores’ defense fizzled in the last three games after getting hot for two months, a depressing circumstance that prevented the Vikings from entering the postseason.

Flores may or may not grab a head coaching gig — perhaps not because his defense floundered down the stretch — and if he stays, the Vikings can bank on defensive continuity. Additionally, the club has more cap space than usual, mainly because Adofo-Mensah has shed expensive veteran contracts, and the purple team can be buyers in free agency. That’s only two months away.

The 2023 Vikings were at their best when Flores’ defense was cooking against the 49ers, Packers (the first game), Falcons, and Saints. No matter the 2024 quarterback, the defense must become better than 2023 as the defensive youngsters mature and develop.

Keep Flores if the New England Patriots don’t pounce, add a credible EDGE rusher, and improve the defensive tackle personnel.

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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