The Minnesota Vikings got Dangerfield-level respect in 2022 despite winning their division by an impressive four games and earning the No. 3 seed in the NFC.
Critics pointed to a DVOA that was sixth-worst in football and a negative point differential as evidence of a fluky record.
Credit Kevin O’Connell for getting the most out of a flawed roster, but unless the Vikings nail their offseason, Minnesota is primed for a step back in 2023. We explore the possibilities, plus explore the Vikings’ free agents, cut candidates, and team needs.
Minnesota Vikings Offseason Preview: Can They Avoid Regression?
People love to talk about Kirk Cousins, but truth is, quarterback is pretty low on the list of the Vikings’ concerns in 2023.
Cousins is under contract through 2023, and while his $36.3 million cap figure is steep — it’s the fifth-highest in football — he’s basically impossible to cut and challenging to trade.
The Vikings’ best bet would be to let Cousins play out his contract and then reassess the quarterback position in 2024.
Instead, the next few months should be spent fixing a secondary that allowed the third-most yards per pass in football in 2022 (7.3) and the third-most points (25.1).
But that’s easier said than done. Cousins’ contract busts an already-tight budget. Plus, the Vikings have just six draft picks, including only two in the top 100.
Put it all together, and the Vikings are primed for a big step back in 2023. It’ll be up to general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to prevent that from happening.
Vikings’ 2023 Salary Cap Space
According to Spotrac, the Vikings, as of early January, were over the 2023 salary cap by $7.4 million, giving them the seventh-worst situation in the NFL.
That figure includes $3.1 million in dead cap and $1.1 million in rollover space. It is based on an estimated $225 million NFL salary cap in 2023.
The exact cap figure will not be known until the NFL announces it in early March.
Vikings Free Agents 2023
The following Minnesota Vikings players are set to hit free agency. Restricted free agents are noted with the abbreviation RFA and exclusive rights free agents by ERFA.
- CB Kris Boyd
- C Garrett Bradbury
- OT Blake Brandel (ERFA)
- DE Jonathan Bullard
- LS Andrew DePaola
- TE Ben Ellefson (RFA)
- WR Olabisi Johnson
- K Greg Joseph
- RB Alexander Mattison
- QB Nick Mullens
- CB Patrick Peterson
- G Austin Schlottmann
- TE Irv Smith Jr.
- CB Chandon Sullivan
- DT Khyiris Tonga (ERFA)
- OT Oli Udoh
Center Garrett Bradbury
Spotrac’s calculated market value: Four years, $47.7 million ($11.9 million AAV)
Overview: Bradbury wouldn’t be a flashy signing, but he’d be a solid one for any team needing to strengthen its middle interior. Bradbury has been a starter since the day the Vikings drafted him 18th overall. His days of playing on a discount are over.
Tight End Irv Smith Jr.
Spotrac’s calculated market value: Two years, $20.6 million ($10.3 million AAV)
Overview: Either Spotrac’s methodology needs revision, or some desperate team is going to significantly overpay. Because Smith is not a $10 million player. The former second-round pick has never had 40 catches in any season during his four-year NFL career.
Potential Cut Candidates
- ILB Eric Kendricks ($9.5 million in cap savings)
- S Harrison Smith ($7.5 million)
- WR Adam Thielen ($6.4 million)
Vikings’ Team Needs Heading Into 2023 Offseason
- Wide Receiver