The Minnesota Vikings season came to a disappointing end on Sunday at home to the New York Giants.
It was a fun and very crazy season, and they exceeded expectations. The way the season ended was still disappointing, though. Yes, the Vikings won 13 games, but they proved they were not as good as their record indicated. Those exciting close finishes were flavorful, but they provided some false Super Bowl hope.
Vikings Offseason Could Include Moving on from Several Veterans
This team, in the end, was not going to compete for a Super Bowl appearance, but the Vikings should have won last week at home. It wasn’t really an upset, but it was still a home game, and they should have won.
The question now, of course, is, where do the Vikings go from here?
According to Over the Cap, they will be $24 million over the salary cap, so they will need to not only rework several contracts but also say goodbye to some veterans. Here are some players they can move on from:
The sixth-year RB again had a productive season but did not look as good as usual. He appeared in every game this year for the first time in his career but also rushed for a career-low 4.4 yards per carry.
He is still a productive player, no doubt, but given he will be 28 years old next season (not very young for a running back), his best days are very possibly behind him.
Cook is due $14.101 million with a dead cap of $6.202 million. Maybe they will try to rework his contract, but it will not be a shock whatsoever if they move on.
The Detroit Lakes native has been a fan favorite since he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State University-Mankato in 2013.
Since 2016, he has been a Vikings starting wide receiver and has been very productive, earning two Pro Bowl berths, two seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving, and two seasons with 10 touchdowns or more. He also has been an active member of the community. He is one of the best receivers in team history and will one day be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
This season, he appeared in every game but was not the same player we’ve seen the previous six seasons. He is due $19.967 million with a dead cap of $13.550 million. They would save more if they could rework his deal, but would the Vikings prefer just to move on?
Would Thielen also depart and see if he can land with a better team or perhaps a team that is more desperate for wide receivers? It would also depend on who the Vikings can find on the market.
One thing is for sure. It won’t be easy for the fans and organization to move on from the Minnesota native. It is a business, though.
Since drafted 29th overall by the team in 2012 out of Notre Dame, Smith has been one of the best safeties in the league. Even at age 33, he continues to be one of the best in the game. He recorded five interceptions this season for the fourth time in his career.
He is, however, due $19.127 million next season with a dead cap of $11.747 million. It will be a huge shock if the Vikings do not at least try to rework his deal. There’s a good chance Smith returns for his 12th season in purple on a different deal. We will see.
The eight-year veteran did not look like a very good fit for the 3-4 defense and looked to have lost a step.
Kendricks will be entering the final year of his contract and is due $11.430 million with a dead cap of only $1.930 million. He has been an outstanding player for them since day one, but the time is right to move on. If he takes a significant pay cut, it would not be a bad idea, but the Vikings should move on.
After recording 9.5 sacks in the first 10 games, Smith looked like an exceptional free-agent signing. He later hurt his knee and recorded only half a sack the rest of the season.
He is due $16,990 million with a dead cap of $3.333 million. He will be 31 years old next year. Can he stay healthy going forward? With Ed Donatell gone, will the Vikings continue to run a 3-4 defense? If they are, they should try to rework Smith’s contract. If they go back to the 4-3, they should absolutely move on and save the $13 million.
Smith had a great start to the season, but even if they bring him back, how he ended the season is a concern.
After appearing in only six games the previous two seasons, Hunter played in all 17 games and recorded 10.5 sacks. He looked more like his old self at the end of the season. He did not look like a good fit earlier in the 3-4 defense but regained his usual form at the end.
He is due $13.120 million. If he is traded or released after June 1st, they will save $5.5 million. Perhaps the Vikings will once again try to rework his deal or keep it as is, but this time, Hunter may not be on board. Saving that much after June 1st will not matter much, given the best free agents will be off the market by then. Surprise cuts sometimes happen late in the offseason, though, and they could earn future picks.
Losing Hunter would hurt next year, especially if they also lose fellow pass-rusher Smith. The Vikings should try to keep him unless Hunter absolutely wants to leave.
It’s highly unlikely that they will move on from all six. Four out of six, though? Very possible.
Jordan Hicks could be released, saving the team $5 million. He had a decent year overall, but his snaps decreased towards the end of the season, and rookie Brian Asamoah showed some flashes. Hicks struggled in pass coverage, too.
Patrick Peterson will be a free agent and had five interceptions this season (second highest of his career). He will be 33 years old next season. If they can re-sign him for cheap, they should. This past season he played for $4 million, which was a bargain. If he costs around $7 million or more next season, it would be best to move on. His leadership and play would still be missed, however.
Once again, it will be a hectic offseason for the organization. Although the cap situation is not looking good at the moment, Rob Brzezinski has repeatedly shown how his worth at managing the salary cap. His outstanding work has allowed the team to be more active than expected many times, and although the Vikings would still have to move on from some key players, his brilliance should give them a chance to sign some key free agents.