E Point Perfect

5 Definitive Things We Know about the Vikings Offseason So Far


Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell at U.S. Bank Stadium after Minnesota lost to the New York Giants in the Wildcard Round of the postseason, 31-24.

The Minnesota Vikings offseason began one week ago, after the New York Giants eliminated the NFC North division champs from the Wildcard Round of the postseason.

Now, head coach Kevin O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will orchestrate their second offseason together. The two held a year-end press conference on Wednesday, put a bow on the 13-4 season, and will now plan for Year No. 2.

These are five definitive things already known about Minnesota’s offseason so far.

5 Definitive Things We Know about the Vikings Offseason So Far

1. Ed Donatell Out for 2023

5 Definitive Things We Know
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell looks on before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell told reporters and the public Wednesday that he was in “evaluation mode” about everything regarding the 2022 season, including defensive coordinator Ed Donatell’s fate.

Well, after one extra day of thought, O’Connell decided to fire Donatell and pursue a different defensive bossman. And on Saturday, news leaked that Minnesota will interview former Miami Dolphins skipper Brian Flores and New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen for the job.

The Vikings ranked 27th in defensive DVOA, 30th in points allowed, and 31st in yards allowed. Donatell’s ideas were counterproductive to Super Bowl contendership.

So, we know for sure he will not be back.

2. Kirk Cousins [Probably] In for 2023

Prediction for Vikings-Giants
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) lines up for a play against the New York Giants during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

At the same presser, Adofo-Mensah was point-blank asked about Kirk Cousins’ future with the Vikings, and he replied, “It’s our expectation that he will be our quarterback.”

Cousins is financially committed to the team through the end of 2023, produced an NFL-record-tying 8 game-winning drives this season, and is virtually guaranteed to record 4,000+ passing and 30+ touchdowns per season. Those stats don’t grow on trees, and the Vikings tentatively plan to roll with Cousins again this autumn.

The only kicker here to think about — unlike previous years with “Cousins debates” — is age. He’ll be 35 when the season starts. Vikings loyalists must merely hope Cousins doesn’t begin an age-related slowdown like some predecessors around his age.

Not everyone plays proficiently like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers into their mid- and late-30s.

3. Justin Jefferson to Be Wrapped up Long-Term

Justin Jefferson Can Still
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) makes a catch for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

This one is plain and simple.

According to Jefferson, he has no plan to leave Minnesota, telling reporters on Monday, “I will be wherever I’m wanted. If they want me here, I’m here. That’s not something that I can really control.”

Jefferson is eligible to chat with the Vikings this offseason about an elephantine contract extension.

On Wednesday, Adofo-Mensah was asked if retaining the soon-to-be Offensive Player of the Year would be a challenge. The young executive smiled and said, “I wouldn’t use the word challenge. You got a special player, a special person. Those aren’t problems. Or at least those are champagne problems.”

He added about Jefferson’s upcoming extension, “So, we’ll start there. We’ve had initial dialogue with him, his agent. All those things we get back to that in the planning, but again it really starts from the player, the person, and we’ll work on solutions from there on.”

Jefferson will get glued to the Vikings for six to seven years in mere months.

4. Beloved Vikings Likely Out

5 Vikings Have Not Met
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) celebrates the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Here’s the list of expensive veteran Vikings who may be on the cap-casualty chopping block:

  • Dalvin Cook (RB)
  • C.J. Ham (FB)
  • Eric Kendricks (LB)
  • Jordan Hicks (LB)
  • Harrison Smith (SS)
  • Za’Darius Smith (OLB)
  • Adam Thielen (WR)
  • Dalvin Tomlinson (DL)

And that list doesn’t even include organic free agents like Alexander Mattison (RB), Patrick Peterson (CB), and Irv Smith (TE). The men listed above could be targeted for contractual restructuring, trade, or outright release. Many of their 2023 pay schedules don’t align with 2022 performance.

Of course, not all those men will leave, but a chunk is probably a safe bet to exit stage left.

Get your tissues ready.

5. Continuity of Offense

Vikings Coach Says
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips looks on prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Assuming Adofo-Mensah isn’t outright lying about Cousins’ future, the Vikings will jaunt into 2023 with total offensive continuity for the first time in about seven years. Annually, until this go-round, a Vikings offensive coordinator accepts a promotion or retires, or before Cousins came along, the team switched quarterbacks.

Well, Wes Phillips declined a job interview with the Los Angeles Chargers this week, O’Connell certainly isn’t going anywhere, and all signs point to another year for Cousins.

There shall be no major upheaval on offense, sans perhaps tweaks to the RB personnel, WR2, and perhaps center. The four main guys — O’Connell, Phillips, Cousins, and Jefferson — are basically a shoo-in to return in September.

If your temptation is to say “not so fast” on Cousins, remember that he has a no-trade clause in his contract. Even if Adofo-Mensah wanted to trade Cousins, there’s a thick hurdle.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).


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