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free agency

Big Off-Season… Massive Opportunity!!

As we prepare for another roller coaster off-season with the Minnesota Vikings, we are once again feeling the usual hope and optimism. With the draft around the corner, many fans and experts have their own ideas of what Vikings will do come April. Do you take the best available player, or do you draft for need? Or will Rick once again trade back and recoup some lost picks? Either way, it seems like for the first time in a while the Minnesota Vikings are in a unique position. Over the last few years, so many game-changers were selected in the 8-15 range. You can go offense or defense and get a guy that fits right in to make an instant impact.
For the first time in the Mike Zimmer era, it was the offense that carried this team and put us on the brink of a playoff spot even with a 1-5 start. So, assuming that continues with some new additions upfront, you would be right to believe the Vikings are going to be a strong contender next season. As always, the biggest challenge that new OC Klint Kubiak will have to figure out is how to protect Kirk Cousins and allow him to really take over in games.
Addressing our biggest issue!

Common sense would suggest the Vikings take the highest-ranked offensive lineman. Kirk Cousins was the 3rd most pressured quarterback in the league last season (38.6%) but still managed to finish in the top 10 in passer rating (105.0). The Vikings have done reasonably well over the last 2 years taking an offensive lineman in the 2nd round of those drafts and they have both worked out quite well, but we don’t have a pick in the 2nd round this year so maybe this is the year we address that position we so desperately need to improve on to allow our offense to be even more explosive next year.
Another option, however, is building our offensive line through free agency. The name that jumps up at you is Trent Williams, who the Vikings tried to acquire last year but he refused. The free agency pool seems to be filled with quite a few really solid offensive linemen that could instantly make our team better and would need no introduction to the league. A perfect example of a veteran lineman going to a team and making a huge impact is Andrew Whitworth going to the Los Angeles Rams and solidifying that line in the run and most importantly protecting the quarterback’s blindside. Paying for an established player in that position is one of the few roster moves that are very low risk and tend to work out more than often.

The most unlikely scenario would be to trade for one of the available players in that position. This wouldn’t be such a bad idea considering the nature of the position. Offensive linemen tend to play till much later in terms of age compared to most other positions. Ravens are said to be looking for a 1st round pick from anyone interested in Orlando Brown Jr who had a tremendous season at left tackle. The Vikings should strongly consider this as an option, Brown is 23 years old and will shore up that position for at least the next 8 years. A 1st round pick is a small compensation to pay for a player that would be a massive part of your offense for a decade.

The Other Side of the Ball
The Vikings’ strong point for the entirety of Mike Zimmer’s tenure as the head coach has been defense. That was not the case last season, the Vikings ranked 30th overall, our pass rush was non-existent (28th in sacks) and what was even more alarming was how easily teams were able to run the ball at will. Injuries happen all over the NFL but to have so many starters and their replacements out injured took a massive toll on the team. One thing that Vikings fans can be certain of is that there will be no repeat of this and we can be sure that our defense will be back to its usual self.
Not only do the Vikings have a lot to look forward to with players coming back from injury, but the young cornerbacks also really came into their own as the season progressed. Cameron Dantzler was the highest-graded cornerback since week 7.
Expectations or False Hope?
There is plenty to look forward to if you’re a Vikings fan, if we can somehow manage to put it all together, we can build something special. This offseason we have a very rare opportunity where if we play our cards right we can certainly put our names firmly in the mix for the NFC.


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News Roundup: The League’s Offseason Arrives

After the Super Bowl finishes tonight – and Patrick Mahomes‘ Chiefs are anointed the winners – the NFL will officially be in its offseason. Collectively, the league will thus focus their attention on how they can build their team into one that can compete in next season’s Super Bowl. What needs to happen this February so we can play next February? The Vikings are already asking themselves that question, and they’ve begun by continuing to nail down the coaching staff and some key roster spots. This week’s iteration of our Minnesota Vikings News Roundup focuses on the coaching staff, trade rumors, and TVG’s top articles.
The Coaching Staff
The Vikings have hired Karl Scott to coach their secondary. Previously, he was Alabama’s cornerbacks coach. It’s safe to say Alabama has an impressive group of corners, so this looks like a good hire. Heck, Minnesota may even draft one of Scott’s former players in the first round.

Definitely an intriguing hire for the #Vikings. Bama had some serious talent at corner. https://t.co/Y48gFct0Ib

— The Vikings Gazette (@VikingsGazette) February 6, 2021

Otherwise, the biggest coaching news may come from Justin Jefferson unintentionally signalling that Lil’Kub is getting the OC job. We have long maintained that Lil’Kub is the obvious choice, so this doesn’t come as a surprise. We now need to hope that he can follow in Kyle Shanahan’s footsteps as a worthy successor to a legendary father coach.
Kirk Cousins is Staying in MN
The idea of a Kirk Cousins trade was always unlikely. The rumors were mostly based off some speculation and dot-connecting. That kind of talk is fine and dandy, and I have no issue with it. That being said, we must keep that reality in mind when we discuss these hypothetical moves.

It really doesn’t seem that Minnesota was ever interested in moving on from Captain Kirk. Recently, Mike Zimmer joined Good Morning Football, saying this about his QB: “You know, [Cousins] had a terrific year this year. We were fourth in the league on offense.” Cousins has even expressed his lack of respect for mere rumor. He will be under center for the Vikings in 2021.
Around TVG
Some good stuff went up on TVG this week. There is a recipe for mozza sticks (just in time for the big game), and a consideration of the Three Purple Paths that are before the Vikings. Our Moron’s Guide to Football is still cranking out top-quality content. There was also some talk of Nick’s fantastic video, and Cole gave us a great breakdown of Jeff Gladney‘s rookie season. Be sure to check it all out.
Valued reader, hear me when I say this: you are appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to support us and click on our links. On behalf of all of us here at TVG, we send along our sincere thanks. Enjoy the big game, and be sure to keep stopping by for your Minnesota Vikings news roundup.
This article originally appeared on one of our partner sites: VikingsGazette.com. Check out The Vikings Gazette and follow them on Twitter and on Facebook for more exclusive Minnesota Vikings content and analysis!


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Three Purple Paths: Deciding to Implode, Continuing to Reload, or Kicking the Can Down the Road

For Minnesota Vikings fans, one of the greatest areas of intrigue rests in how the team will approach their offseason. Rick Spielman didn’t get the nickname Slick Rick because he was shy about making moves. Right or wrong, he’ll swing for the fences. Sometimes, this approach goes poorly (see Ngakoue, Yannick). Other times, Slick Rick does wonderfully (see Diggs, Stefon). We can be certain that Rick Spielman and his Minnesota Vikings will be doing everything they can to get back into contention. The intrigue really rests in how they’ll pursue this goal.

To be honest, I can’t say with certainty how Spielman will approach this offseason. Heck, I’m sure if Spielman was being honest he’d also say he wasn’t fully certain. In any case, one thing we do know is that the Minnesota Vikings have some fairly defined routes, so we’ve decided to focus this month’s featured article on outlining how Spielman might proceed. The Vikings may decide to implode, continue to reload, or kick the can down the road. Each option offers certain benefits and drawbacks, so let’s consider the Three Purple Paths that are before us.

Deciding to Implode

Implosion is the least likely scenario, so let’s start here. The first move they’d need to make in an intentional implosion is to indeed move on from Kirk Cousins.

We’ve been consistent about our belief that this isn’t going to happen. Mike Zimmer’s recent appearance on Good Morning Football certainly supports our theory. Nevertheless, if the Vikings pursue a full-blown implosion – one aimed at recouping cap space and draft capital – then it means they’ll be selling Cousins to the highest bidder.

The implosion doesn’t end with Cousins. Nay, Kirk is merely the beginning. Gone are defensive stalwarts like Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter. That’s right, a full-blown rebuild may involve moving Hunter. If the team is truly looking to tank, can they afford to re-up a contract on a defensive end who is coming off a season-ending neck injury? Probably not.

In the draft, the Vikings could go in several directions. Perhaps they’d stay put and snag the best player available, or perhaps they’d make a move for one of those young, intriguing QB prospects. Getting someone like Justin Fields or Zach Wilson, in all likelihood, means jumping up in the draft, a move that would cost a considerable amount. Perhaps we’d see the Vikings instead opt to drop down, acquiring more picks as they target someone like Mac Jones.

That being said, the implosion option is one that is extremely unlikely. If it truly was Spielman’s and Zimmer’s plan, we’d likely already be seeing the signs. This Purple Path is almost completely closed.

Continuing to Reload

Coming in at second most likely is the “Continuing to Reload” option.

Last offseason, the Vikings took the middle way between a full rebuild and true contention, instead opting for a reload. Had things gone a little differently with the roster’s overall health, the plan may have even worked. Maybe the Vikings’ leadership will stand back and assess things, opting to continue this pattern by stripping down the offense like they did with the defense.

If this occurs, fans will be saying goodbye to Riley Reiff, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph. All are somewhere between good and great players who cost a lot of money and are over 30. Make no mistake, these are painful moves, ones that often lead to an overall downturn in on-field performance. If the Vikings want to keep themselves afloat as they nevertheless pursue long-term competitive viability, then the reload option may indeed be what the Vikings choose.

The wild card in this scenario would be Cousins. A reload likely means the Vikings just continue with his current contract. He comes into this year with a $31 million cap hit, which would actually be pretty reasonable were it not for the Covid Cap. Next season’s $45 million hit is a problem for future Spielman.

The Vikings would have several holes to fill in free agency and the draft. Targeting a value position like the iOL in FA might allow the team to get their finances in order. Doing so would then allow the team to kick Ezra Cleveland out to LT, his true position. At #14, the Vikings may even surprise us by drafting TE Kyle Pitts, or maybe they replace Thielen with a first round receiver.

The reload option has some benefits and drawbacks, and it’s one that’s worth considering. It’s entirely plausible that Rick Spielman will offer us with a dramatically different Minnesota Vikings offense in 2021.

Kicking the Can Down the Road

This is the option, at least in the opinion of your humble author, that will actually occur.

Step 1 involves extending Cousins (I can already hear the angry typing, but hear me out). This is what Zimmer had to say about Minnesota’s franchise QB: “You know, [Cousins] had a terrific year this year. We were fourth in the league on offense. We have to get better on defense — we had a lot of injuries and young guys — that’s my job to get it fixed.” Does this sound like the kind of comment that comes before a trade? Zimmer is a straight shooter. It’s fairly obvious when he likes and doesn’t like someone. Extending Cousins, or maybe even tacking on some void years, would give Minnesota financial flexibility in a time when there isn’t very much.

The Vikings would continue to kick the can down the road by extending some of their core players. Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, Riley Reiff, and Adam Thielen are all legit candidates. Some cuts will likely still occur. It’s tough to see a scenario where Rudolph returns, and Shamar Stephen will likely be searching for a new team unless he agrees to a new deal.

Nevertheless, the main move you’d see the Vikings make in this Purple Path is to push money into future years as they try to succeed in the present moment. Freeing up cap space would give the team the finances necessary to bring in an impact free agent or two. Cordarrelle Patterson at returner makes a ton of sense, and Shelby Harris at 3T is still my dream FA signing.

In the draft, the Vikings would have a fair amount of flexibility, but they’d likely be inclined to secure the lines. Since they’re bringing back their offense’s skill players and top-tier talent on defense, they can approach draft night in numerous different ways. They could give Hunter some much needed help by choosing Kwity Paye or Gregory Rousseau. Perhaps they opt to secure the o-line by targeting Christian Darrisaw or Alijah Vera-Tucker. Heck, if Penei Sewell mysteriously starts to drop (stranger things have happened), maybe Slick Rick lives up to his name and pulls off a trade.

Say it with me: Minnesota Vikings, Super Bowl LVI champions. All aboard the kick the can train?


Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer have a lot of work to do if they want to get the Minnesota Vikings back into contention. At the very least, they have Three Purple Paths. There are probably more.

As we enjoy what is sure to be a great Super Bowl, Minnesota Vikings fans should be asking themselves: what do Spielman and Zimmer need to do to get our team into the big game next year? Frankly, it’s difficult to say. Most people don’t know the answer. One thing is sure, though: the Vikings have some paths before them, and the decisions they make this February will dramatically impact their ability to play football into next February.

This article originally appeared on one of our partner sites: VikingsGazette.com. Check out The Vikings Gazette and follow them on Twitter and on Facebook for more exclusive Minnesota Vikings content and analysis!

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