With only a single foot in the door of the off-season, the Minnesota Vikings have already been rather busy. General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has spent the past month tearing down the roster to make room for the Viking’s future under his own vision as well as head coach Kevin O’Connell’s. With this systemic reshaping, an easy question would be what’s left for Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell to fix? Well, the answer’s complicated, and looks like it’ll take a while to handle.
Obviously, Adofo-Mensah needs to retool the defense in the image of newly appointed defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Flores’ schemes are well renowned for their intensity and efficiency, meaning the old guard wasn’t going to cut it. It’ll be likely to see the Vikings prioritize reshaping the linebacker group, as well as revitalizing the secondary with a combination of youth and experience.
Andrew Booth Jr and Lewis Cine both just require some time to develop, and now that they’re a part of a system that’ll lend to their strengths, it’ll be easier for Adofo-Mensah to fill out the rest of the unit. Cornerback Byron Murphy is already a terrific start and is a great boost of young talent in a group that sorely needs a new identity. The restructure of Harrison Smith’s contract has been a breath of fresh air for the cap situation, but that’s a different issue entirely.
As for the other parts of the team that need fixing, they’re rather easy holes to patch as long as the Vikings do everything right.
With the release of the declining Adam Thielen, the Vikings are now on the hunt for a new option behind Justin Jefferson and TJ Hockenson. This issue can be addressed in a number of ways, most namely the draft. Late April is likely to be the time where the Vikings presumably fill all their needs, at least in due time.
The offensive line still has consistency issues, but it’s a vast improvement over the last few seasons. All Minnesota needs is for their guards to improve and cut back on the mistakes and the line will sort itself out.
The More Complicated
I’ve spoken about the quarterback problem to death at this point, so I’ll keep it brief. Kirk Cousins’ contract won’t be extended anytime soon, and it looks like Minnesota wants to move on from the Michigan State signal caller in the future. It’s more than likely that his replacement will be drafted, barring a Lamar Jackson trade of course.
Otherwise, Flores’ future in Minnesota is interesting as he’s more than likely going to receive offers to be the head coach across the league, but for now he appears committed to the Vikings.
The impending contacts of Justin Jefferson and TJ Hockenson, as well as Christian Darrisaw will surely hold the cap in an interesting situation, but that’s what the cuts and restructures are for. When Cousins’ contract is off the books, it’ll make it far easier to pay them all.
An interesting development is Danielle Hunter, as his production this past season was below his standards, but perhaps Flores can unleash his abilities the way coach Patterson could. Otherwise, he could be traded to save cap space, which may seem undesirable to many Vikings fans, but as Adofo-Mensah has proven, he’s rather cutthroat with the vets of the past.
The long-term restructuring of the Minnesota Vikings with the intention of forming them into a competitive unit for the future is daunting and may be hard for some fans to stomach. Some fan favorites could be out the door, Eric Kendricks and Adam Thielen were just the start.
Fans need to tolerate change in order to accept the potential future of success, and the older fans may be more used to this than the younger ones. I myself grew up with the current unit that’s seen itself be shipped out over time, and any younger fan can attest to the attachment we’ve grown for some of these players.
Football is a business, whether we like it or not, but hopefully the Vikings can be a successful business under the leadership of Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell. Trust the process, let them cook, whatever phrase helps you sleep at night, just don’t panic.