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After free agency, Vikings among NFL’s most improved teams

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Makes sense to me

NFL: New York Jets-Training Camp Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

In the opening week of free agency, the Minnesota Vikings may have only made two moves. However, those moves saw them sign, arguably, the best free agent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football in quarterback Kirk Cousins and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Cousins will bring his considerable talent. . .not to mention stability. . .to the quarterback position, while Richardson could provide to be the disruptive three-technique tackle next to Linval Joseph that the Vikings lost with the injury to Sharrif Floyd.

A couple of sources have taken notice of the Vikings’ improvements, and are speaking very highly of what the team has done this offseason.

First, the SB Nation mothership has put them at #3 in their Offseason Power Rankings, landing them just behind the Cleveland Browns (who made a ton of moves) and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kirk Cousins was the grand prize of free agency, as weird as that is to say. Minnesota got its quarterback, for a fully guaranteed $84 million deal. The Vikings better make the Super Bowl, or Cousins’ contract is going to invite serious criticism.

Adding Sheldon Richardson to the defensive line helps them keep pace with the Eagles.

I’m not sure if it’s “weird to say” that Cousins was the grand prize of free agency. I think he was widely considered the best free agent available once it became clear that he was going to hit the open market, and the Vikings did what they needed to do to secure his services. But they obviously think highly of what the Vikings have done thus far.

Over at NFL.com, Elliot Harrison has updated his Power Rankings as well, and he currently has the Vikings sitting in the #4 spot.

Hard to fault the Vikings so far this offseason. They upgraded at quarterback, even if Case Keenum played as well as -- if not better than -- Kirk Cousins last season. Recall that Cousins endured injuries on the offensive line, a backfield of transient backs and his supposed WR1 ending up as the biggest bust in last year’s free-agent class. Moreover, signing Sheldon Richardson only helps the top defense in the conference. And we haven’t even gotten to Dalvin Cook rehabbing. Dude.

“Dude,” indeed. All the Vikings have done is add talent thus far, and I’m not sure if anyone outside of Minnesota has put enough emphasis on the effect that Cook’s return will have on the Minnesota offense alongside Cousins. Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray performed well in 2017, but as we saw in the brief glimpse that we got of him last season, neither of those guys are on Dalvin Cook’s level. Cook is a special talent, and having him back in 2018 is going to launch this offense to a completely different level.

The early reviews look promising for the Minnesota Vikings, and with the 2018 NFL Draft now about a month away, I can’t see them trending in any other direction any time soon.