Biggest remaining roster holes and 2023 draft preview

It's July and we don't have a ton to talk about, so figured I'd drop by and stir up the pot a little bit talking about what the Vikings can still do to flesh out the 2022 roster and what we might be looking at for our biggest needs for 2023.

First off, it looks like the Vikings have roughly 10M in cap space still as we head into training camp. Which means we could still either add one of the remaining free agents or potentially hold off and look to sign a camp cut, or just roll the money into next year.

I would say there's probably a very limited number of free agents the Vikings have interest in. I know a lot of guys in the offseason like to talk about the potential of post-June 1 roster cuts as cap-saving options, but the issue is that the talent available at this point is pretty slim pickings. It's guys in the twilight of their career or with injury issues. Let's look at our biggest needs. I think the obvious answer is DL and IOL (really just center). I think there are some decent options that might add CB, LB, or WR depth, but I think we've got enough young bodies at those positions that adding one more free agent isn't going to do a lot.

I do think that there are a few guys out there that might be worth exploring. Potential fits that are older and may still want one last decent payday would be guys like Ndamakong Suh (DT), Ereck Flowers (OG), and guys coming off injuries would be JC Tretter (C), OBJ (WR), and Matt Paradis (C). I think of those, Suh is the most likely option. I tend to think that one of our many guards is going to get shuffled over to try and learn center to compete with Bradbury. Might be the ghost known as Wyatt Davis, might be Ingram (who has only played guard in college, but did play some center at the Senior Bowl), or might be one of the journeymen free agents we signed.

I think those positions pretty clearly line up with our possible 2023 needs as well. Center is the glaring hole remaining on the OL if you assume Ingram might be a long-term solution at G, and for DT, while we might bring back Tomlinson, our interior DL is still pretty questionable. Our DT room next year as of now is Phillips, Twyman, Lynch, Otomewo, and Stevenson. Definitely in need of some star power there. I think next year the edge duo of ZDS and Hunter is still a great value and absolutely top tier players if they can stay healthy, but ZDS' deal balloons in 2024 making him unlikely to remain on the roster at that point (or at least on his current deal), and Hunter is a FA in 2024. I think Hunter is at the point in his career where he's going to want one last big mega-deal, and if he is healthy the next two seasons he'll absolutely earn it. So we could be in the position of needing to replace one or both starting 3-4 OLB in the next two years.

QB is the elephant in the room. With every other contract that gets signed, Cousins' extension looks like a decent value. I'm not saying he's an all-star, but he's an above average QB signed at probably below market rate. If Cousins looks great in the new offense, we'll get to sit on the merry-go-round debate of whether or not we keep him yet again.

WR - JJ is going to get paid BANK. His contract is honestly going to rival that of the second tier QBs in the ballpark of 32-35M APY. The only question is if it's going to be us who pays him. I think if you get some trade package offers like what the Chiefs got for Tyreek Hill, you at least have to listen. I think he's absolutely worth keeping at pretty much any price tag, but if someone comes in and offers multiple 1st rounders there is at least a discussion to be had. Beyond JJ, AT is getting up there in age and cap hit. With cap savings of $14.6M in 2024, I think he's possibly a prime cut candidate at that point. KJ has been looking like a solid WR2-3, and ISM flashed some athleticism and Nailor may have some potential as well.

TE is another big hole/ question mark with Irv being a free agent after this season, and CB is another position that could use some additional depth. LB is looking at some turnover with Kendricks being a potential cap casualty and Hicks being an aging player with 1 year left on his deal.

Overall, I would rank our needs as OC, DT, TE, Edge, CB, LB, and QB could either be #1-2 on the list or not on the list at all.

The good news is that the draft looks REALLY solid at most of our major needs. This is one of the strongest DL classes I can remember, especially if you're in the market for a DT or a 3-4 Edge/OLB. It doesn't have the excellent depth at NT like this year's class did (still mad we didn't take Travis Jones in the 3rd round), but there are a lot of potential breakout guys that would fit the 3T/5T mold perfectly. There are probably 3-4 centers that would go in the 2nd or 3rd round, and the QB and WR classes both have a handful of potential stars. It's going to be a fun off-season of mock drafts for sure!

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