7 Biggest Questions Minnesota Vikings Must Answer This Offseason

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The Minnesota Vikings ended their 2023-24 season with a 7-10 record, after a 20-30 loss in their week 18 finale vs the Detroit Lions. It’s the Vikings’ first 10-loss season since 2013.

They finished 3rd in the NFC North and are slotted in to pick 11th in April’s 2024 NFL Draft, the highest they’ve picked since 2014. After a roller coaster season, this team has a lot of questions that need answered this offseason.

Related: Nick Mullens Gets Emotional with Reporters After Vikings’ Season Ends in Detroit

Biggest Questions Facing Minnesota Vikings This Offseason

Now that this season is over, the spotlight shifts to the decision-making of GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who is tasked with finding the best answers to the many questions facing this franchise. The primary offseason puzzle centers on the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback situation.

With Kirk Cousins’ contract expiring, Kwesi has a few realistic options on the table. Which is the case for most of the questions he and his staff will face over the next handful of months. Starting with QB, here are 7 the biggest ones.

1. Do Vikings stick with Kirk Cousins or look to future? Maybe both…

The Vikings could re-sign Kirk Cousins, who was playing at an MVP level before he ruptured his achilles in week 8. Retaining a player of such value, at the most important position in all of sports, would seem like the obvious choice… but is it?

The Vikings could also explore the 2024 quarterback draft class, which features promising talents like Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix Jr. The question: Will Kwesi and head coach Kevin O’Connell trust their offense (and the happiness of Justin Jefferson) to a rookie quarterback?

Or, do they re-up on Kirk Cousins and choose to add desperately needed talent on defense, with the 11th pick come April? It’s very reasonable to think they bring Cousins back AND draft a 1st round QB, too.

In other words, anything is possible but the QB decision is by far the most important question they must answer before Training Camp. For what it’s worth, Experts at CBS Sports predict the Vikings will re-sign Kirk Cousins to a 2-year, $76M deal ($38M per year).

Before 2023, Cousins was widely considered a good, serviceable starter — nothing more, nothing less. Then, in a contract year, he went on a tear before suffering the first serious injury of his career, and Minnesota’s slew of turnover-happy replacements underscored his steady hand. The Vikings would be smart not to overcompensate for his loss, overlooking longer-term upside for the sake of yet another reunion. But they have the flexibility to bring him back while also throwing a dart elsewhere (more on that below). And while Cousins has capitalized on free agency before, he likes Minnesota and could prioritize familiarity at 35.

Cody Benjamin – CBS Sports

Related: 2024 Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft Roundup

2. Pay Justin Jefferson.

Ok, this is less of a question and more of a certainty. The Minnesota Vikings will make Justin Jefferson the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL at some point this offseason. Following the inability to reach an agreement last year, Jefferson played under his rookie contract and dealt with injuries that put his future paychecks in jeopardy.

That won’t happen again this offseason. JJ and is set to earn $19.7 million in 2024, thanks to his 5th-year rookie option, but he won’t be playing on that contract come next fall. Securing Jefferson for the long term is a top priority this offseason. Here’s what Jefferson said recently about his upcoming contract negotiations:

“That’s a conversation for the front office to really speak about. For me, I’ll just continue to play my ball and do everything that I can for us to get the win. I feel like with my play and all of that, everything is going to happen the way it needs to happen. I will just continue to be myself and go out on that field and give it my all”

In a league where top wide receivers are highly valued, investing in Jefferson demonstrates the Vikings’ commitment to building and maintaining a competitive roster. Paying him what he deserves is a wise decision and obvious decision.

3. Can Vikings Keep Brian Flores Around?

In 2022, Ed Donatell’s defense allowed 458 points, whereas Brian Flores’ defensive scheme limited defenses to 362 points this season. Despite how the season finished and no matter how the final statistics shake out, the Minnesota defense under Brian Flores showed a substantial improvement, even though they both rostered pretty much the same core.

Flores, a former head coach, is expected to be interviewed for open head coaching jobs throughout the NFL this offseason and he was listed as one of the top defensive candidates available in this year’s coaching carousel, but the most recent steam floating around the football world has Brian Flores likely remaining in Minnesota.

Related: Vikings Tried Trading the Farm for Anthony Richardson During 2023 Draft

The Vikings should consider making Flores the top-paid defensive coordinator in the NFL and hope he takes the money so he can continue to work his magic with this defense. Hopefully he’ll have better talent to work with, too.

4. Will the Minnesota Vikings pay Danielle Hunter?

The Vikings have some very important contracts expiring and Danielle Hunter is very important one. Hunter who finished 5th in the NFL this season with 16.5 sacks has had an enormous impact for the Vikings defense the last handful of seasons.

The Vikings faced some of the same questions with Hunter last offseason, before giving him a one-year extension worth up to $20 million. That won’t be an option this time around. By all accounts, Danielle wants to remain a Viking and keeping him won’t break the bank, in terms of what some of the top pass rushers make across the NFL.

But will a cap-strapped Minnesota front office be able to find $20-$25 million per year for the next few years? That’s what they’ll have to figure out. Hunter shared his thoughts about the upcoming offseason, after the Vikings season ended in Detroit Sunday.

Hunter is an exceptional talent and a key leader for this team. Outside of quarterback, his departure would be far and away the biggest and most difficult hole for Kwesi & Co to fill before the start of next season.

5. How do the Vikings fix their secondary?

Out of all the questions on this list, the most grueling action item is probably fixing the secondary. Everything that Brian Flores wants to do on defense relies on competent secondary pieces who can cover for more than 2 seconds.

By the end of the season, there really weren’t any cornerbacks in the entire Vikings secondary who fit that description. Failed draft picks like Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr have really crippled Minnesota’s defensive core.

With Harrison Smith’s future in question and a draft looming that could see the Vikings choose quarterback over desperately needed defensive talent, how they handle additions to their secondary could very well make or break their 2024-25 season.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Re-signing Kirk Cousins is Obvious Move for Vikings

6. What will Minnesota’s interior OL look like next season?

Minnesota Vikings offseason questions 2024 kirk cousins justin jefferson brian flores
Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings dealt with numerous injuries this season, notably on the offensive line. While the offensive line had been a considerable liability in past seasons, this year, it didn’t emerge as a serious issue when the unit was healthy.

In late October, the Vikings traded Ezra Cleveland to Jacksonville and subsequently signed Dalton Risner, who made a notable impact alongside Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill.

However, later in the season, O’Neill and Darrisaw missed several games, leading the Vikings to call upon tackle David Quessenberry and guard Blake Brandel, creating challenges for Nick Mullens. If the Vikings can add some depth, through either the draft or free agency it should be significant help for whoever is quarterbacking the Vikings next season.

“As a quarterback, you try not to focus on, ‘Oh, you’re getting hit, you’re getting hit’. I guess it’s just like a natural instinct to not really think about it, but you just have to keep playing, keep plugging along and trust the guys up front.”

Nick Mullens after loss to Lions

7. Who will take charge in the Vikings running back room?

The Vikings also must figure out who will be the primary running back next season, after a disappointing season from Alexander Mattison, whose next up? Cam Akers looked decent before his season ending injury, and Ty Chandler stole Mattison’s job at the end of the year.

Related: Minnesota Vikings Offense Rankings 2023-24

There is a few options for running back next season, and I honestly don’t know if I see a path for Mattison to be that guy. Will it be Chandler or could they choose to match any offers made for restricted free agent, Cam Akers

Obviously, the draft (even day 3 picks) are options worth considering at running back. Current and former RB1s like Derrick Henry and old friend, Dalvin Cook, could be available too. We’ll see where the Minnesota Vikings decide to go.

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