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Minnesota Vikings Training Camp: core group will be around for awhile

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There won’t be a lot of starting jobs available over the next three years on the Minnesota Vikings

NFL: Minnesota Vikings-Training Camp Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Stability is a funny word in today’s NFL, and it means something vastly different than it did when Bud Grant was roaming the sidelines of the Bloomington Prairie, for example. Back then, there was no free agency, and if you drafted and traded well, you could set up a dynasty. And that’s exactly what the Vikings did. A vast majority of the Purple People Eaters were together for a decade or more, and the Vikings had one of the most stable and successful franchises in the NFL during that time.

After it was announced that Stefon Diggs was getting a five year contract extension, I started to think about how many good, young players the Minnesota Vikings currently have under contract, and will have for the foreseeable future. Because of work filters that won’t let me get to every site I need, and...you know...actual work, I didn’t have the time to really look into it, but I thought that the Vikes are really set up to make a serious run at a Super Bowl in the next three years. And thanks to ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin, I don’t have to do all the hard work now! Yay!

I still want to look at this is some more detail, though. First, let’s see who the Vikings have under contract, and then break it down by position:

QB: Kirk Cousins

RB: Dalvin Cook

RB:

LT: Riley Reiff

LG:

C: Pat Elflein

RG: Mike Remmers

RT:

TE:

WR: Stefon Diggs

WR: Adam Thielen

DE: Everson Griffen

DT: Linval Joseph

DT

DE: Danielle Hunter

LB: Eric Kendricks

LB:

LB:

CB: Xavier Rhodes

CB:

S: Harrison Smith

S:

That’s impressive. But I want to take this a little farther than Cronin’s original tweet, and look at guys who could could arguably be starters by 2020. If you add those guys in, the Vikings starters on offense and defense look something like this (added players italicized):

QB: Kirk Cousins

RB: Dalvin Cook

RB:

LT: Riley Reiff

LG: Danny Isidora ( know he’s a RG, but just indulge me)

C: Pat Elflein

RG: Mike Remmers

RT: Brian O’Neill

TE: Tyler Conklin

WR: Stefon Diggs

WR: Adam Thielen

DE: Everson Griffen

DT: Linval Joseph

DT: Jalyn Holmes or Jaleel Johnson

DE: Danielle Hunter

LB: Eric Kendricks

LB: Ben Gedeon

LB:

CB: Xavier Rhodes

CB: Mike Hughes or Holton Hill

S: Harrison Smith

S:

And if you add in Anthony Barr...who I am almost 100% certain will get an extension now that Diggs is in the fold...the Vikings have an amazing 20 of 22 starters under contract through 2020. Now, like I said, we can argue about guys like Conklin, Isidora, Hill, and Johnson/Holmes. But I think we can all agree that a guy taken in the first or second round should be starting by 2020, no? So let’s leave Hughes and O’Neill in and count those spots taken.

But for the sake of argument let’s say the rest of those guys don’t pan out. Guys taken in the back of the draft like that are 50/50 shots, so this is reasonable to argue for a worst case scenario. Even assuming none of those guys pan out, that means 16 of 22 starting spots are already claimed.

In 2020.

In a day and age where significant roster turnover is commonplace from season to season, and a salary cap system in place that’s supposed to limit this kind of stability, that’s borderline unbelievable to me.

Additionally, if you assume the salary cap will keep increasing an average of $10 million/yr like it has been the last few seasons, and factor in contracts like Kyle Rudolph’s expiring, it’s distinctly possible that players like Sheldon Richardson and Trae Waynes can get extensions done if that’s what the team and respective players would like to do.

GM Rick Spielman and Dark Arts Luchre Wizard Rob Brzezinski have set this team up in what might be the most enviable position from a salary cap perspective in the NFL, and they’ve set it up for long term success, not a one time run like we saw in 2009, for example. If the Vikes can keep drafting and developing players well, this is sustainable, and for awhile.

I don’t know what the next three years will hold for this group of players. It takes a combination of skill, health, and luck to win a Super Bowl, along with good coaching.

The Vikings have everything in place to finally do the thing, and this window of opportunity should be open for at least three years, if not more.

So...do the damn thing.