What Are The Vikings Up To?

What Are The Vikings Up To?
Reading Time: 2 minutes.

It’s rare to see such uncertainty around a team coming off a 13-4 season, the 3 seed in the NFC no less. There has been the odd case where a QB or superstar goes out on a high, like Peyton Manning’s Broncos or Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. But while Minnesota have decided not to extend Kirk Cousins contract, he is still the starter for 2023.

Yet the Vikings are offloading pieces to the detriment of the team. It’s not massively boosting the cap situation either. Za’Darius Smith has already been traded to the Browns for a pair of fifth round picks. Adam Thielen was traded to the Panthers and it appears Danielle Hunter is next.

And then there is the case of Dalvin Cook.

Clearly the Vikings want to get younger across the board. Jordan Addison has replaced Thielen, ditto Marcus Davenport for Smith. Now Alexander Mattison will take on more of a role to replace Cook. The Florida State Alum may turn 28 in preseason but he’s hardly a spent force. Cook’s number declined slightly in 2022 but he still ran for nearly 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns.

The case for re-signing him would be difficult. The case for releasing him, at least now, seems shaky at best. The release saves the Vikings $9M of his $14M cap hit. But the big-name free agents are off the board already. It’s valuable cap space at the worst time of year, compared to keeping a key part of their offence. Clearly the Vikings would have tried to trade Cook and didn’t get the value they wanted, if any. But the move would have made far more sense in February, rather than June, enabling more firepower in free agency.

Why the move makes sense

There are some benefits to the move. Releasing Cook now means any cap penalties are resolved in one season. Plus, it opens up space to pay Justin Jefferson’s contract. Alexander Mattison is a good backup and was a key part of the Viking’s 1-2 punch. Now we will find out if we can lead the line.

There is some benefit to releasing Cook and offloading strong, but aging assets. But in a wide-open division, in a wide-open conference, the Vikings should be all in to make the push to go over the top. Instead, they are rebuilding for the next offensive.

Maybe the new look Vikings will continue to challenge and retain the NFC North. But surely it would have been easier had they retained Smith and Dalvin Cook?

Feature image from dailynorseman

If you enjoyed this from Adam Barton, find more of his writing here.

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