Analysis of the Vikings Offseason (so far)

The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a successful season where they finished 1st in the NFC North. Their regular season record was 13-3 and they made it to the NFC Championship game. They ultimately lost to the Philadelphia Eagles but it was a season Vikings fans can be proud of. This is a key offseason in order to get over the hump and win a Super Bowl.

Notable Offseason Additions

The most notable free-agent signing has been Kirk Cousins. Many analysts believe he was one of the top free-agents this offseason. The Vikings made it a priority to get a franchise quarterback. Despite the success that Case Keenum had last season, the Vikings felt that Cousins was too good to pass up. Cousins was previously the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins where he threw for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. The Redskins had moderate success under Cousins but that’s due to the fact that he never had significant talent around him. That’s why this signing is so intriguing. Pairing Cousins up with two elite receivers in Diggs and Thielen, and a talented running back in Dalvin Cook could be exactly what the Vikings need to finally win a Super Bowl.

Depth on the defensive line was also a priority this offseason, specifically at defensive tackle. Outside of Linval Joseph, the Vikings lacked talent on an otherwise elite defensive line. That’s why Zimmer and the Vikings went out and signed Sheldon Richardson.  Richardson was picked by the New York Jets in the first round of the NFL draft.  His rookie year he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was also a pro-bowler in 2014. Richardson joins pro-bowlers Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen on the defensive line and will be a key contributor to one of the best defenses in the league.

A more under-the-radar acquisition was wide receiver Kendall Wright. Wright was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. He spent last season on the Chicago Bears. He hasn’t been an impactful starter on the Titans and Bears but will be utilized as a solid slot receiver and reliable backup if former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell doesn’t pan out.

Notable Offseason Departures

Case Keenum was one of the biggest names to change teams. He will be the quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2018. The decision to sign Cousins over keeping Keenum was debatable. Many believed that the money we paid Cousins was too much versus keeping Keenum on a smaller, restructured deal. Part of the Vikings rationale for letting Keenum go was that while he had a successful season, it was too small of a sample size to trust him as the starting quarterback for many years.

Noteworthy departures at quarterback included Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. It was expected that Sam Bradford was going to be let go after losing the starting job to Keenum in 2017 due to injury issues. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Teddy Bridgewater, a fan favorite, was a tougher decision. After not playing for the majority of 2017 due to a torn ACL and structural damage in his knee, he appeared to be working towards a full recovery to compete for the starting job in 2018. However, in contract negotiations, he asked for starting quarterback money. With many expiring contracts looming for stars including Anthony Barr and Stefon Diggs in the upcoming season, the Vikings weren’t prepared to give Teddy that kind of money. He signed a one-year $15 million contract with the Jets.

At running back, the Vikings let Jerrick McKinnon go. McKinnon served as a shifty scat-back for the Vikings since 2014. After Dalvin Cook suffered a torn ACL in 2017, McKinnon got a much larger workload splitting time with Latavius Murray. Both Murray and McKinnon impressed in Cook’s absence. The decision to not resign McKinnon was a financial decision. He wanted to be paid like a starter and he wasn’t going to be paid or utilized as a starter in Minnesota. He signed a 4-year $36.9 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

What’s next?

Overall the Vikings have been very smart with their money. They had to sign Cousins to a large contract (3 years $84 million) because that’s where the market is for a quarterback with a proven track record. The decision to let Keenum, McKinnon, Bridgewater, and Bradford go helped make the Cousins deal possible. These moves also made it possible to re-sign important players to long-term deals including Eric Kendricks.

After all the offseason moves the Vikings still have $15.7 million in cap space. They should use that money and the draft to bolster offensive line depth, add competition at wide-receiver, and bring in a cornerback to compete with Trae Waynes.

The future is bright in Minnesota. There’s still time to join the bandwagon. Skol.