The Vikings tried to “run it back” for multiple years, but the results have been underwhelming. Despite a mass exodus of starters in 2020, the Vikings tried to be competitive and missed the postseason with a 7-9 record. In 2021, the front office spent a lot of money in free agency but once again, the team missed the playoffs with an 8-9 record.
The Vikings ownership group parted ways with head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman and hired young rookies GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and HC Kevin O’Connell. Rebuilding could’ve been an option considering the problems on the roster. However, the new regime called the process a “competitive rebuild” and once again spent heavily on free agency and the draft.
The results were a 13-4 season, including a home playoff game. While the season was fun, the Vikings were never in competition to win the Super Bowl. Teams like the 49ers, Chiefs, and Eagles are all in a different tier than the purple team.
Some Semblance of Vikings Rebuild Is Inevitable
The Vikings are now facing an offseason with another possible mass exodus. Cap space expert Rob Brzezinski is confronted with negative cap space, despite multiple players becoming free agents. The front office can fix that by cutting some expensive veterans and restructuring some contracts.
Some longtime starters for the Vikings will inevitably leave the organization. Players like Eric Kendricks and Dalvin Cook belonged to the top players in the league but clearly lost a step.
That it’s absolutely necessary to have an infusion of youth shows the average age of the players.
According to Bill Barnwell, the Vikings have the third-oldest defense and the eighth-oldest team in general. The aging defense needs a total overhaul after a disastrous season. Cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Duke Shelley are set to become free agents, just like defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson.
In addition, linebackers Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks looked noticeably slow in 2022 and could be cut with nearly no dead cap hit. Safety Harrison Smith is turning 34 in a couple of weeks.
The Vikings will have many moving parts and new faces on the defensive side of the ball. 2022 draft picks Lewis Cine, Brian Asamoah, Akayleb Evans, and Andrew Booth will play a more significant role in the future. They were handpicked by the new regime, including defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, for the new defensive system. Injuries stopped them from contributing more, but they will get every chance to succeed in the upcoming season.
The offense is the 23rd oldest, despite having an older quarterback, running back and wide receiver playing big snap numbers. However, there will be some turnover, too. Thielen and Cook are candidates to leave the team, as the Vikings need to save some cap space.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is currently set to enter a contract year, and 2023 could be his last season in Minnesota. He will be the starter in 2023, but after that, anything is possible. At some point, the new regime will likely try to draft “their guy” in the near future.
The roster will look very different in 2023, which is a good thing. An infusion of youth is desperately needed.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. 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