The Vikings did their best to keep the important players on the team in Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s first offseason as general manager. Multiple Vikings enter the final year of their contracts.
Tomlinson joined the Vikings in the 2021 offseason. After a disastrous 2020 season, especially at the defensive tackle position after Michael Pierce opted out. The Vikings tried to build a strong interior line to stop the run. Somehow, both Pierce and Tomlinson played good football, but the problems at defending the run didn’t disappear.
This season, Tomlinson has a new running mate, and that’s Harrison Phillips. The two have to form a wall and dominate the trenches. Tomlinson signed a two-year, $21 million contract. Cap guru Rob Brzezinski spread his out cap hit. The defensive tackle will cost $7.5 million against the cap in 2023, even if he’s not on the roster, and $2.5 million in 2024 and 2025. That hit could be lowered if the Vikings extend his deal. He turned 28 in February, so he has a few more good years left.
Irv Smith Jr.
Just like Tomlinson, Smith played his college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Smith started his career as a backup for Kyle Rudolph. Last season, his role was supposed to increase after the departure of the veteran tight end. Unfortunately, Smith injured his meniscus and didn’t play a snap in 2021. Tyler Conklin replaced him, but the 2021 version of Smith will always be a “what-if.”
The tight end recorded 676 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two campaigns. Expectations for a second-round tight end are much higher, and he has to perform in 2022 if he wants to get his big payday after his rookie contract ends. He has the talent, but the talent has to translate to the field.
The former superstar cornerback is no longer among the elite players in the game, as he is not getting any younger. Peterson just turned 32 and, therefore, is nearing the end of his career. In 2020, Peterson had a bad season for the Cardinals before he joined the Vikings in free agency. He redeemed himself with a solid performance.
However, he can’t play man coverage at a very high level anymore, so defenses have to hide his weaknesses and aren’t as versatile. The new contract also shows his age. Last offseason, he signed a one-year deal for $10 million. This offseason, he just got $4 million for one year of service. If the Vikings want to keep him around depends on the development of the young Vikings cornerbacks, Andrew Booth and Cameron Dantzler, during Peterson’s contract year.
A lot has been said about Bradbury. The former first-round pick is a disappointment so far in his career. No other center was drafted higher than the former NC State center in the last 20 years. But almost no center played worse in recent years, especially in pass protection. He annually ranks among the worst pass-blocking centers in football. Division rivals Akiem Hicks, and Kenny Clark had field days against him for three years.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah declined his fifth-year option, and if he wants to stay in Minnesota, he has to improve quickly. Bradbury recently said that he gained weight, which could help him to get stronger. The Vikings don’t have any competition for the man in the middle of their offensive line, so he’ll get all the opportunities to save his Vikings career.
Mattison has been the primary backup for Dalvin Cook for all three seasons. However, his rookie contract is up, and it’s not clear if he’s part of the long-term plans for the franchise. Usually, running backs don’t receive second contracts unless they are really good, like Cook.
The Vikings also drafted a running back in the 2022 draft when they selected Ty Chandler in the sixth round. He could be viewed as a succession plan for Mattison. In 2021, the organization chose another running back when Kene Nwangwu was the pick. He is a special teams star, but his speed makes him an interesting option for the offense. The voice of the Vikings, Paul Allen, recently said that he could see him taking over the backup spot from Mattison. If that’s the case, an extension becomes unlikely. Mattison has to show the Vikings his worth in his contract year and faces competition for his backup job.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt