7 Things to Know with 7 Days before Vikings Free Agency

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Free agency in the NFL begins one week from now, with “legal tampering” kicking off on March 11th. That’s the day when players legally-but-unofficially can start talking with teams about contracts.

7 Things to Know with 7 Days before Vikings Free Agency

It’s a very weird title for a very real thing. Minnesota has over 25 free agents scheduled to hit the open market, though when all is said and done, about half or more will return for 2024.

On the whole, these are the seven things to know about the Vikings’ free agency, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most important).

7. Don’t Forget about More Cut Candidates

with 7 Days
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News broke last Thursday that running back Alexander Mattison will be released, an unforeseen outcome because OverTheCap.com claimed for months that there was no real incentive for the move. But when the dust settled, Minnesota saved around $3 million by releasing Mattison, and had fans known that entering the offseason, every Vikings fan on the globe would’ve predicted the release.

But Mattison may not be the only one.

Keep an eye on these players as possible releases:

  • Garrett Bradbury (C)
  • C.J. Ham (FB)
  • Dean Lowry (DT)
  • Nick Mullens (QB)
  • Kene Nwangwu (RB)
  • Harrison Smith (S)

6. Need for a RB2 and WR3

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Someone must replace the aforementioned Mattison, probably a free agent like Zack Moss or JK Dobbins to pair with Ty Chandler — or a rookie from the draft. The Vikings leaders hinted at the NFL Combine that a running back was on the way even before the Mattison news.

Meanwhile, Minnesota also needs a WR3 unless it re-signs K.J. Osborn or promotes Jalen Nailor. Players like Rashid Shaheed or Curtis Samuel could make sense for the job.

At two somewhat crucial offensive positions, the Vikings will likely find newcomers.

5. They Already Have a “Bridge QB”

Moved to Tears
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If the Vikings don’t re-up with Kirk Cousins and choose a quarterback early in the draft, they aren’t required to spend $30-$40 million on Baker Mayfield, for example. They have Nick Mullens, who can hold down the fort until the hypothetical rookie quarterback is ready.

Mullens got a bad rap in 2023, mainly because Minnesota’s defense died the moment he took over. Of course, he had hardly anything to do with that. Give Mullens a crack at the Vikings with a top-tier Brian Flores defense, and fans will change their tune on Mullens.

But that’s if Minnesota needs a bridge quarterback at all. It may not.

4. More Money Than Usual — by a Mile

Impasse with Kirk
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One year ago right now, Vikings fans stared at the budget with Minnesota at $-24 million. Yes, $24 million underwater. Now, in 2024. Minnesota has $36 million in the green to spend. That’s a $60 million difference.

That’s as colossal as it is refreshing.

3. Justin Jefferson Won’t Be Traded

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Jefferson is due for a ginormous extension, probably the largest in NFL history for a non-quarterback. And general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah knows it.

“We’ve said it, and we’ll continue to say it: we think he’s the best wide receiver in the league and should be compensated as such. We think he’s one of the best non-quarterbacks in the league, think he should be compensated as such,” Adofo-Mensah explained the state of play regarding Jefferson.

He also said trading Jefferson isn’t an option. “That is not something that has ever crossed my mind,” Adofo-Mensah replied when a reporter asked him at the NFL Combine about trading Jefferson as a possibility.

He added, “You got a blue player, a blue person. You try to keep as many of those as you can.” Adofo-Mensah, too, stated the Vikings and Jefferson were “incredibly close” to making the extension final last September.

NFL-themed media ran hogwild with Jefferson trade theories for a few weeks. But after Adofo-Mensah set the record straight, the Jefferson rumor mill turned to cricket noises.

2. EDGE Should Make Fans Panic

Defender Earns Sweet
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The Vikings have two EDGEs on the books for 2024: Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II. That should strike fear in your heart. A team can’t skimp at outside linebacker and expect to be taken seriously as a playoff contender.

Adofo-Mensah will figure it out, but the lack of EDGE depth — or even starters — should make fans paranoid during the next week.

1. Cousins May Be a Vikings-Falcons Standoff

Next Up
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The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reported this weekend, “Over the next month, I’m keeping an eye on the Falcons. They believe Cousins is the type of player who moves them from a fringe playoff team to a contender. New Atlanta head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Zac Robinson both have familiarity with Cousins. Knowing this could be a seamless transition for Cousins and the talented young group of players across their roster, I expect the Falcons to compete for the rights to his contract. It makes all the sense in the world.”

Believe it or not, it feels like Cousins’ 2024 employer is a two-horse race: the Vikings and Falcons.

Who’s it gonna be?

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 OverTheCap.com.