The Minnesota Vikings ended their offseason program on June 14. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals: Building off their 13-3 finish and a trip to the NFC Championship Game last season, the Vikings swept through the offseason while checking off a number of items on their to-do list: Find an offensive coordinator (John DeFilippo) capable of taking this unit to the next level, sign a franchise quarterback (Kirk Cousins) and upgrade the 3-technique position (Sheldon Richardson) on the defensive line. Minnesota accomplished all three of those tasks and managed to secure a handful of depth additions via the draft to add to one of the most stacked rosters from top to bottom. A game away from reaching the Super Bowl last season, Minnesota has the pieces in places to contend in 2018 and take one step forward to playing for a championship.
How they fared: Elite
Move I liked: The Vikings did what they had to do in free agency, signing Cousins. Sure, $84 million guaranteed over three years is a lot for a quarterback aiming to prove he has what it takes to lead this team to a title and provide stability at the position. But Minnesota had no other choice but to go all-in, given the state of the QB market in free agency. The moves the Vikings made between signing Cousins and Richardson, two Pro Bowlers, reflect that their Super Bowl window won’t be open for very long. The Vikings also made key additions to the league’s No. 1 defense by drafting cornerback Mike Hughes with the 30th overall pick and have all the pieces in place to be one of the most lethal units again this season.
Move I didn’t like: By not signing a guard in free agency nor using their first-round pick on a plug-and-play lineman, the Vikings still have a lot of questions surrounding their offensive line. Minnesota took a step back when Joe Berger retired in March and still don’t have an obvious answer to filling that void. The Vikings' biggest fear? Creating a revolving door at one of two spots on the right side of the line. If Mike Remmers stays at right guard, will Rashod Hill be able to hold down right tackle? What if the Vikings choose to move Remmers back to tackle? Who, then, plays right guard? The Vikings want and need to protect the $84 million investment they made in Cousins, which is why they should have made bolstering their O-line the top priority this offseason.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: What will Minnesota’s offense look like under new coordinator DeFilippo? Don’t expect a ton of wholesale changes, but perhaps a scheme that will bring out the best of Cousins’ skill set (play-action, deep ball) while working to turn around his weaknesses (red-zone turnovers). Training-camp practices will provide a look into how comfortable Cousins is in the Vikings' offense and with his skill players. Beyond Cousins, what are the Vikings going to do with their offensive line? Who wins the nickel corner job? Which running back will fill the void left by Jerick McKinnon? Who is the No. 3 receiver? Do the Vikings have enough depth at linebacker? Stay tuned.
Quotable: “I’ve come a long ways in about six weeks. I still have a ways to go and that’s to be expected. No surprise. It’s helped that the organization and the locker room has welcomed me with open arms. They’ve been very accommodating, very supportive. That’s certainly made the transition easy. Not only for me, but for my wife and our family. Continue to be excited to be here. Just got to keep taking steps and keep getting the offense and playbook mastered.” -- QB Kirk Cousins on his offseason work with his new team.
Salary-cap space: $17,629,616 (source: ESPN’s Roster Management System)
2018 draft picks: 1. CB Mike Hughes (UCF); 2. OT Brian O'Neill (Pittsburgh); 4. DT Jalyn Holmes (Ohio State); 5a. TE Tyler Conklin (Central Michigan); 5b. K Daniel Carlson (Auburn); 6a. OG Colby Gossett (Appalachian State); 6b. DE Ade Aruna (Tulane); 7. LB Devante Downs (Cal)
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: WR Jeff Badet (Oklahoma); WR Chad Beebe (Northern Illinois); RB Mike Boone (Cincinnati); DT Curtis Cothran (Penn State); LB Garret Dooley (Wisconsin); OG Chris Gonzales (San Jose State); CB Holton Hill (Texas); TE Tyler Hoppes (Nebraska); DB Craig James (Southern Illinois); DE Hercules Mata'afa (Washington State); CB Trevon Mathis (Toledo); S Tray Matthews (Auburn); QB Peter Pujals (Holy Cross); WR Korey Robertson (Southern Miss); RB Johnny Stanton (UNLV); LB Brett Taylor (Western Illinois); RB Roc Thomas (Jacksonville State); WR Jake Wieneke (South Dakota State); DE Jonathan Wynn (Vanderbilt); WR Brandon Zylstra (CFL)
Unrestricted free agents signed: QB Kirk Cousins (Washington); DT Sheldon Richardson (Seattle); DB Terence Newman (Minnesota); CB Marcus Sherels (Minnesota); K Kai Forbath (Minnesota); WR Kendall Wright (Chicago); DT David Parry (Indianapolis); WR Tavarres King (New York Giants); OL Tom Compton (Chicago); LB Reshard Cliett (Kansas City); TE Josiah Price (Minnesota); OL Josh Andrews (Philadelphia)
Restricted free agents signed: OG Nick Easton (Minnesota)
Players acquired via trade: QB Trevor Siemian (from Denver)