5 Offseason Moves that Make the Minnesota Vikings a Super Bowl Contender

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Every NFL team enters the season with the same goal of winning the Super Bowl, but let’s be honest, sometimes setting sky-high aspirations just isn’t realistic. Fortunately for the Minnesota Vikings, as long as they have a franchise quarterback, plus Justin Jefferson, they’ll always be viewed as a contender, even if they’re not at the top of the totem pole.

Related: 6 Players Vikings Must Re-Sign This Offseason

But GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is embarking on a crucial offseason, with his starting quarterback set for free agency and Jefferson expected to become the highest-paid non-QB in NFL history. Somehow, the Vikings must find a way to not only retain their key contributors but also improve upon last season’s effort.

5 Offseason moves that can make the Minnesota Vikings a Super Bowl contender

Some may feel the Vikings are better off trying to rebuild, but it’s highly unlikely the Wilf ownership group would agree, as they have always prioritized winning now over fighting for high draft picks in the hopes of being more competitive in the future.

It’s unlikely they change their tune now. Still, we also must admit that this team is currently behind in the NFC North divisional race, watching teams like the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers climb into the playoffs. So, how do the Vikings get back ahead of their rivals and become legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2024?

They may not be as far off as it seems and it’s become clear they have more wiggle room under the cap than what was originally reported. So… here are a few moves they should consider in order to move their 2024 needle back in a positive direction.

Find Another Complementary Playmaker (RB or WR)

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Do the Vikings really need another playmaker? They already boast one of the best groups of skill position players in the NFL. Justin Jefferson is the best receiver in football, T.J. Hockenson is a Pro Bowl tight end, and Jordan Addison has the potential to become an annual threat to top 1,000 yards.

But Hockenson tore his MCL and ACL on Dec. 24, so he may not be ready for the start of the regular season. In fact, he only had his ACL repaired this week, while he waited for his MCL to heal enough for the ACL procedure to take place. And when he does return (week 2 or 3, maybe later…) how effective will he be fresh off his rehab?

What if the Vikings experience an injury to any of their other top pass-catchers? Suddenly, you’re asking Josh Oliver or Jalen Nailor to play the roles of Hockenson, Jefferson, or Addison, and that’s not ideal.

With K.J. Osborn and Brandon Powell set for free agency, they’ll have to invest some Day 3 draft capital (Rounds 4-7) toward drafting a shifty receiver who can either make plays after the catch or develop into a deep threat capable of stretching the seams.

Then there’s the running back position, which is set to return Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu, and DeWayne McBride. That quartet fell short of expectations last season, so Kwesi would be wise to add more competition, likely through the draft.

Re-Sign Dalton Risner, Add OL Depth

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Longtime Viking loyalists understand the importance of having a good offensive line, the early days of Kirk Cousins in Minnesota served as an unhealthy reminder. Without consistent protection up front, the entire passing offense gets thrown off their game, leading to a loss of yards or, worse, turnovers.

Then, there’s the impact on the rushing attack. If the Vikings can’t push the opponents off their spots, then running backs have no room to run and get attacked before even reaching the line of scrimmage. This team can’t go back to those days.

Related: Dalton Risner’s Tik Tok Star Wife Impressed by Vikings Fans; Loves Life in Minnesota

While there were frustrations throughout the 2023 season, the Vikings also dealt with several injuries up front, including to their star offensive tackle tandem. Standing pat and staying healthy should lead to more success in 2024, but Dalton Risner is headed for free agency, so the Vikings will have to re-sign their starting left guard to maintain continuity.

Once Risner is back on board, spending additional late-round draft picks on offensive guards and versatile tackles who can play multiple positions could pay major dividends.

Vikings Need More Talent In Cornerback Room

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The Vikings’ top three cornerbacks from 2023 are set to return in 2024, and Byron Murphy Jr., Mekhi Blackmon, and Akayleb Evans are all 26 years old or younger. Those factors alone should help this group improve with another year playing in Brian Flores’ system.

Related: PFF Floats Vikings as Possible Landing Spot for Antoine Winfield Jr

However, the Vikings can’t rely on an unproven group to suddenly become equipped to defend the best QBs in the NFL. Not to mention, injuries happen frequently, and the Vikings need more than three corners they can count on for a 17-game season, plus more in the playoffs.

With so many other expiring contracts to focus on, the Vikings may not be able to allocate additional funds to the secondary this offseason. This means their best opportunity to inject talent could come via the 2024 NFL Draft. In that case, spending even a first or second-round pick on a potential shutdown corner can’t be ignored.

Retain Danielle Hunter, Spend Top Pick on DL in NFL Draft

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Even if Danielle Hunter wasn’t set for free agency, the Vikings’ biggest offseason needs start with the front seven. Aside from Hunter, there isn’t a single All-Pro or Pro Bowl-level talent on the defensive line or among pass rushers. That’s a problem, which is why they cannot afford to let Hunter walk, like one NFL draft guru believes they will.

Related: 2024 Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft – 1.0

Yet, the Vikings must prioritize adding elite talent along the defensive line, giving Harrison Phillips some help. We know that Hunter can wreck a game from the edge, and Vikings fans saw first-hand how New York Giants DT Dexter Lawrence can change momentum in their Wild Card loss in 2022.

Imagine if the Vikings had a player getting in the face of QBs from the interior and the edge. Coach Flores might not have to blitz so much, yet having more individual players create pressure would make Flo’s genius schemes even more problematic for opponents.

With the Vikings likely forced to pay other key contributors in free agency, this front office can’t afford not to use one of their top two draft picks on a defensive lineman like Illinois’ Jer’Zhan Newton or Texas’ Byron Murphy II.

Don’t Let Kirk Cousins Leave Minnesota

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The most important factor determining how far the Vikings can go in 2024 is whether Kirk Cousins returns to Minnesota. As fans learned in 2023, when Captain Kirk goes down, the ship sinks with him.

There’s was some early optimism that Cousins would be willing to give the Vikings a bit of a ‘hometown‘ discount, or at least structure his contract in a way that gives the front office the funds needed to build around him, but recent reports on whether or not that will happen have been mixed.

Read More: Insider Buzz: Kirk Cousins’ Price is going up…

Any kind of discount would go a long way toward the Vikings becoming a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Still, Kwesi has more room to work under the salary cap than what we were originally led to believe. Rumors have been floating recently, thought, that the Vikings are hesitant to guarantee Cousins’ new contract beyond 2024.

The soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback knows time is running out, especially after losing a year to an Achilles injury. If winning a ring with the Vikings is truly the biggest item left on his bucket list, it’s time for Cousins to prove it.

But two guaranteed years isn’t all that much to ask. In all likelihood, Cousins will be a really good quarterback through 2025 and for a couple more years beyond. And with no other immediate replacement on the roster, it’s not like Minnesota’s front office can afford to play hardball with their franchise QB, if they want to win as many games as possible in 2024 and play for a Super Bowl come this time next year.

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