Letting go of key and veteran players
Since the beginning of the offseason, the Vikings had parted ways with 5 players that were quite important to the Vikings’ success last year. The Vikings released WR Adam Thielen, CB Partick Peterson, LB Eric Kendricks, and RB Dalvin Cook while trading OLB Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns.
Each of these players had success on the field that helped propel the Vikings to 13 wins and a playoff spot last season. Despite not racking up yardage, Adam Thielen was once again Mr. Reliable when it came to touchdowns, scoring 6 touchdowns last season, Patrick Peterson was tied with Harrison Smith for the most interceptions on the Vikings, with 5 interceptions last year, and Kendricks had the 14th most tackles in the NFL, with 137 tackles, Dalvin Cook had the 6th most rushing yards in the NFL, with 1173 rushing yards, and Za’Darius Smith finished the year with 9 sacks.
Signed and re-signed players
Since the beginning of the offseason, the Vikings have made 21 signings and re-signings. The list of players that the Vikings signed off of free agency includes players such as TE Josh Oliver, OLB Marcus Davenport, CB Byron Murphy, DL Dean Lowry, and WR Brandon Powell.
TE Josh Oliver has been used primarily as a blocking tight end throughout his 3-year career, but when targeted, he has had 26 receptions for 230 yards. OLB Marcus Davenport has struggled with injuries during his 5-year career and has recorded 21.5 sacks and 142 tackles. CB Byron Murphy has been the primary corner for the Arizona Cardinals since Partick Peterson left and has recorded 4 interceptions and 229 tackles in his 4-year career. DL Dean Lowry has almost every game he’s been available for in his 7-year career, totaling 15.5 sacks, 23 TFLs, and 252 tackles. WR Brandon Powell has been that dependent receiver that can step up when needed, being a backup for the majority of his 5-year career, totaling 47 receptions for 354 yards.
The list of players that the Vikings re-signed from last season includes players such as RB Alexander Mattison, FB CJ Ham, and C Garrett Bradbury.
RB Alexander Mattison is entering his 5th year with the Vikings, and after the release of Dalvin Cook, looks poised to be the starting running back of the future. Mattison’s career stats are 1670 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.
FB CJ Ham is entering his 7th year with the Vikings, where he’s been the primary fullback for all seasons. Praised for his blocking skills, Ham has put up stats in his career that include 70 receptions for 610 yards, 97 rushing yards, and 5 total touchdowns.
C Garrett Bradbury is entering his 5th year with the Vikings, really seeing improvement last season before an injury. Bradbury has played 100% of his snaps in 3 of his 4 NFL seasons while having 16 total penalties throughout his career.
Drafting for the future?
In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Vikings made picks that seemed to either fill the missing gaps of players that departed earlier in the offseason or fill a spot that would be free in future years.
WR Jordan Addison can be seen as a pick taken to fill the spot of Adam Thielen, who was released in early March. Addison could also become a dynamic receiver that is perfect for complementing Justin Jefferson on the field.
CB Mekhi Blackmon could fill the spot of Patrick Peterson, or wait to seize his opportunity, sitting behind Byron Murphy, Andrew Booth Jr, and Akayleb Evans.
S Jay Ward is a good pick for the future and depth. There were rumors surrounding Harrison Smith’s future with the Vikings this offseason, but he would end up staying. The Vikings taking Jay Ward could be them preparing to move on from Harrison Smith within the next couple of seasons.
NT Jaquelin Roy is a good depth pick for the Vikings. The Vikings do not have a strong defensive tackle core, and even with Dalvin Tomlinson in the group last year, they seemed to struggle. Adding more young blood may not be the right way to go, but you never know when you’ll find a diamond in the rough.
QB Jaren Hall is a pick that sets the Vikings up for the future. Whether you like Kirk Cousins or not, he’s not going to be in Minnesota forever. We all thought that Kellen Mond would be the guy to take over the reins from Cousins once he left, but the Vikings released him last offseason. Jaren Hall helps set the Vikings up to have a good, young quarterback, ready to take the helm when Cousins is gone.
RB DeWayne McBride is a good depth pick for the Vikings. With Dalvin Cook out of the picture, and Alexander Mattison ready to begin his first season as the starter, the Vikings need to make sure they have the right amount of support at the running back position in case of injury. Of course, the Vikings still have Kene Nwanwu and Ty Chandler, but having McBride on the depth chart helps out too.
The term ‘rebuilding’ is often a term used in sports to describe a team that departed with key and veteran players, and possibly coaching staff and members of the front office after a string of or one losing season.
We saw the Jacksonville Jaguars go through a rebuild in recent years, as they released or traded key and veteran players such as Blake Bortles, Jalen Ramsey, and Leonard Fournette, as well as firing head coach Urban Meyer, and general manager David Caldwell. The Jaguars also brought in young talent to propel themselves forward such as Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and Josh Allen.
The Vikings finished 13-4 last season after looking like they had rebuilt the previous offseason by firing head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman while hiring new head coach Kevin O’Connell, and new general manager Kwesi Adofo Mensah. The weird part is, the Vikings still look like they are rebuilding now, even after a successful season with new management.
In order to understand whether or not the Vikings are rebuilding, let’s take a look at the evidence that has been laid out for why they are still rebuilding.