We’re less than two weeks away from the start of free agency in the National Football League, and the Minnesota Vikings are still significantly over the salary cap for the coming season. In order to get under the cap and in compliance with league rules before that date comes, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made, and the end result could be a lot of familiar faces being shown the door.
Kevin Seifert of ESPN has put together a look at some of those decisions and appears to have come to the conclusion that a lot of big-name veterans likely aren’t going to be with the Vikings in 2023.
Seifert, specifically, looks at eight specific players: Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Kirk Cousins, Za’Darius Smith, Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks, and Jordan Hicks. Of those players, the only ones that he seems to feel are locks to stay are Cousins (obviously) and Hunter. The rest could be playing the 2023 season in a different uniform.
Specifically, Thielen. . .who currently has the second-largest cap hit on the roster. . .has seen his role in the offense drop a bit and might think he could be a larger factor somewhere else. As Seifert points out, Thielen was fourth on the team in receptions over the season's final five weeks and appeared to have slowed down a bit this past season, failing to go over 75 yards in any game this year. Absent a significant pay cut, he’s a likely candidate to be released in the next couple of weeks.
Seifert also feels that Cook’s fate might have been sealed before he had shoulder surgery a few weeks ago. Releasing Cook would save the team $7.9 million, but if they release him and he’s unable to pass a physical that would drop to $5.9 million, as they’d owe him $2 million if that were to occur.
I don’t want to crib Seifert’s entire article, because it’s well worth your time to read it on your own. But it certainly seems like we’re truly going to be moving to a new era of Vikings’ football starting in 2023, as the team looks to be getting more into the “rebuild” phase of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s envisioned “competitive rebuild.” Sure, the team will still have plenty of talent, particularly on offense, but the team is clearly starting to steer things in a different direction and a lot of guys that we’ve gotten to know pretty well in recent years aren’t going to be a part of it.