Though Minnesota has been busy this off-season making a flurry of moves, the new season has yet to come. The Vikings as a whole has made plenty of hard decisions and overall, has ushered towards a new era. That said, there are still moves to be made and the following seven moves could be on the horizon before kickoff come September.
Extend Franchise Star Justin Jefferson
- When you’re talking about the top names in the NFL right now, it’s rare to not hear Justin Jefferson’s name in those conversations. He is electric on the field and has a personality to match, making him the best young receiver (maybe player) in the game. However, as we move closer to the future, an extension is looming. This off-season for the Vikings was a chance to get younger, cheaper, and faster on both sides of the ball and as a whole, they’ve done this. However, no player on the roster right now is better than J-Jettas and as a cornerstone piece, it’s important to cap off this off-season with an extension. Let’s be real, he’s earned it as in his three seasons, he’s broken multiple franchise and league records. It’s time to hand the former LSU Tiger a blank check and lock him down for the foreseeable future, making him the highest paid receiver (and possibly player if we’re getting wild) in the NFL.
Make a Splash with iOL Dalton Risner
- As a Vikings fan, it’s nice to not have to talk about the offensive line every off-season. That said, let’s talk about the offensive line because they can still get better. Darrisaw and O’Neill have become one of the best young tackle duos in the league and the line as a unit played well last year (Yes, Cousins was sacked a record 46 times…). However, of the team’s main starting five, four out of five allowed six or less sacks over the course of the season with rookie Ed Ingram (11) getting better throughout the year. Holistically, there is stability but Dalton Risner could solidify the line, patching one of the main holes remaining on the roster. Will he come cheap? Absolutely not, but his play and durability warrants the contract, as he’s only missed three games over the last four years. If you can set and forget the line for three plus years, then this would be a slam dunk signing for Minnesota in an already stacked offense.
Address the Danielle Hunter Holdout
- One of the many Vikings who’s future has been murky over this off-season process, Hunter has let his play on the field speak for his holdout. As the team’s top option, he has double digit sacks in four of the last six seasons and consistently makes big plays in crunch time. However, as one of the league’s best, young pass rushers, Hunter is only slated to make $4.9 million this coming season. In reality, his play and leadership on and off the field makes the entire team better. However, as Minnesota looks to shift to a new culture and new Super Bowl window, Hunter is stuck in limbo. Whether he stays or goes, Minnesota needs to address the holdout and either pay the man or let him walk.
- Potential Landing Spots: Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Commanders, Houston Texans
Sign Veteran DL Al-Quadin Muhammad
- The roster may not be set and there are still a healthy number of veterans that can step in and find roles on this team. As an offense, Minnesota should be set with minor tweaks. As a defense, there is still a gap left by DT Dalvin Tomlinson’s departure… Sorry Dean. Enter Al-Quadin Muhammad. Muhammad spent the 2022 season with Chicago but the 6 ‘4, 250 lb defensive lineman could easily find a role in the starting lineup and in the locker room. Pair with the fact rookie DT Jaquelin Roy (one of my favorite prospects) will take some time to develop, this signing fits what Kwesi and KOC are trying to do: get efficient and effective veterans hitting their prime on deals with solid team control to build a culture. His stats are flashy, but for a team that was bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed, flashy is not more important than impactful.
Trade for CB Nik Needham
- Let’s be real, the secondary was the worst part of this team last year and it showed en route to a first-round playoff out and the league’s second worst pass defense. There was transition after the Zimmer era but the dysfunction showed based on the starters that were listed this time last year: Pat Pete, Cam Dantzler, Chandon Sullivan, Cam Bynum, and Harrison Smith (with first rounder Lewis Cine mixed in). The plan was always to retool and rebuild the secondary and the team as a whole has done this. Is it to the level that some fans desire? No but the process takes time and the moves they have made are encouraging. However, Nik Needham would fill in nicely in this corner back room as he’s a veteran who came in with Flores in Miami and consistently found a role in his defense. He’s toolsy, he’s versatile, and he’s got a knack for making plays. Coming off an Achilles injury last October, Needham would provide another veteran option for a defense that could use some mentors and some play-making ability.
Gauge Interest in Trade Value of OG Ezra Cleveland and KR Kene Nwangwu
- Maybe the hottest take, but Ezra Cleveland and Kene Nwangwu are names to keep an eye on throughout the next few months. Of the projected starting five offensive lineman, the former second rounder has the most question marks that could cause intrigue from other teams: Darrisaw and O’Neill are set at tackle with no clear conversations of replacing them, Bradbury was ultimately re-signed this off-season, and Ingram was drafted by the current regime. Cleveland has been an effective lineman but in a league that is constantly looking for solid tackle play, a team could come calling to kick the Boise State product back out to right or left tackle. For Nwangwu, the former Iowa State Cyclone consistently ranks in the top of returners and 80% of the time he returns the ball, he’s topping 20 yards or more. Nwangwu has shades of Hester and Cordarelle, but as the league moves towards safer protocols for kick returns, the Vikings may need an extra roster spot and though he’s been electric and efficient since entering the league, he seems to be the fifth man up at running back and fits a premium position Minnesota may not want to keep.
- Potential Landing Spots – Ezra: Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers, Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders
- Potential Landing Spots – Kene: Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs
Look into the Backup Running Back Position
- With the release of Dalvin Cook, it’s full steam ahead for the Minnesota offense with a new lead back for the 2023 season. With many speculations, it remains to be seen who will be the new workhorse for Minnesota. The presumed starter (and who should be the lead) is Alexander Mattison with 5th Rounder Ty Chandler and rookie Dwayne McBride also in the mix. Truly, it will most likely be a bit of a committee approach, but any man could step up and lead this backfield. However, this position has brutal workloads and adding talent and insurance is always a good move. With plenty of veterans still on the open market, it would do the team good to kick the tires and look into some veteran talent. Big namers like Zeke Elliott and Leonard Fournette may be a great complement, but guys like Rex Burkhead, Gio Bernard, and Royce Freeman (though not sexy) may be great additions to this backfield for more of a value.