With Super Bowl LVII just a couple of days away, the official start to the offseason is around the corner.
With Brian Flores’ recent appointment as the team’s defensive coordinator, the Vikings seem determined to run it back this year.
The salary cap for this year has been established by the NFL at $224.8 Million, and the Vikings are nearly $23 Million over it. Therefore, the Vikings have until March 15 to come up with a plan to stay under the salary cap for the NFL.
“We have a lot of tools at our disposal where we can get under the cap and continue on,” General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said.
One of those tools is contract restructuring, which, in my opinion, will be the end outcome for the majority of Defense veterans, including Harrison Smith and Kendricks. But as a consequence, one part of the squad will inevitably bear the costs. I see the offense taking the biggest hits this offseason, so here are three offensive leaders for the Vikings that might not be back for the 2023 campaign:
The Chef might have to take his cooking somewhere else.
Cook, who has a cap hit of $14 million, is one of the likely candidates to leave Minnesota this offseason, in my opinion. Despite playing in all 17 games during the regular season, he had a career-low 4.4 yards per rush and a few crucial fumbles.
In terms of rushing yards over expected, Cook placed 42nd out of 48 eligible running backs, according to Next Gen Stats.
It could be time to let the 27-year-old go as his anticipated salary figures rank him sixth among running backs.
The ideal scenario would involve a trade, but if cut before June, $8 million in cap space would be freed.
Paying almost $4 Million for a special teams player? The Vikings can’t afford to go HAM.
A fan favorite who has played only 169 snaps this season has lost some ground as a result of O’Connell’s new offensive scheme.
With a cap hit of $3.8 Million, it appears as though he has already taken one step out the door.
“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Minnesota’s own Adam Thielen’s journey from member of the practice squad to top 10 receiver in the NFL has been fairly heroic.
Thielen’s 2022 season was one of his least productive in statistical terms, with 42.1 yards per game, 6.7 yards per target, and 10.2 yards per reception—the latter two being career lows.
After effectively filling the role of WR1 following Stefon Diggs’ departure, Thielen now drops to WR4 as Jefferson steps into the main role and Osborn and Hockenson improve.
Thielen seems displeased with O’Connell’s scheme.
On Instagram, his wife Caitlin Thielen expressed their disappointment, writing that they might be departing Minnesota and that Thielen “wants opportunities to show what he can do and feel valued.”
At 32, a trade might not be in the cards, but the Vikings could save approximately $13 million in much-needed cap space if they released him after June.
Additionally, it gives the Vikings the opportunity to look for a much-needed WR2.
These Departures would provide the much-needed cap room that our Minnesota Vikings need to develop into a championship-bound franchise.