3 Players Vikings Must Move On From This Offseason

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After another disappointing season, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will make several changes to the Minnesota Vikings roster over the next few months. Some new players will inevitably arrive, and many others will leave town. Here, we identify three players the Vikings must move on from this offseason for various reasons.

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K.J. Osborn – Will He Be Too Expensive?

k.j. osborn
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

While he’s never been a star in Minnesota’s offense, K.J. Osborn has also never posted a ‘bad’ season by any means. As a former fifth-round pick, he’s certainly lived up to his draft selection. Far from a Justin Jefferson-level talent, Osborn has been reliable, racking up at least 540 yards and 48 catches in each of his past three seasons.

Already set for unrestricted free agency, there’s a good chance Osborn finds a better opportunity elsewhere this offseason. It’s not that he wouldn’t be welcomed back to a top-heavy receiving corps that has very little proven depth behind it.

Instead, the Vikings may be forced to move on from Osborn simply due to cost. He becomes a free agent this offseason and other teams around the NFL may view the 26-year-old wideout as someone who could fill a starting role in their offense, in which he’s been surpassed by both Jefferson and Jordan Addison in Minnesota.

Not to mention, the Vikings might find more use out of a player who can bring more speed to the offense while offering more yards after catch opportunities, both traits Osborn does not possess.

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Trade Lewis Cine For Best Offer Available

lewis cine
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Is there a ‘need’ to move on from the 32nd overall pick from the 2022 NFL Draft? Absolutely not. While Lewis Cine has yet to contribute much to the Vikings since becoming a first-round selection, he’ll still be just 24 when the 2024 season starts. That’s plenty of time for the former Georgia star to make his mark with the Vikings.

Yet, no one knew the type of players Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus would become when GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made Cine his first-ever draft selection. Outside of maybe Alexander Mattison (more on him in a moment) the Vikings do not care about which round a player was drafted in or what his role was supposed to be, when acquired. The best players see the field. Ivan Pace Jr. proved that more so than anyone else this past season.

While Cine may still have something to offer, the reality is the Vikings already have three safeties who demand more playing time than him. In turn, it may be best for the front office to see if they can dump their former top pick for something like a late-round draft selection (perhaps a 5th-round pick).

While Harrison Smith’s future may be unclear, other young players like Jay Ward and Theo Jackson can likely fill the third safety role in Minnesota while still contributing on special teams.

If Possible, Vikings Should Move On From Alexander Mattison

alexander mattison
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

This one may be tricky. A year ago, the Vikings essentially chose Alexander Mattison over Dalvin Cook, hoping the bulky back could provide a less expensive option that still produces at a high level. Vikings fans all across the globe will tell you that didn’t work out so well.

However, the Vikings signed Mattison to a two-year, $7 million contract in 2023, with $2.75 million of his contract in 2024 already guaranteed. Cutting him wouldn’t solve any cap issues. In fact, releasing Mattison would only offer $600K in cap savings, given the $4 million penalty releasing him would trigger.

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So what’s the point? Money aside, Mattison rarely looked like the best running back on this team last season. Ty Chandler’s 4.5 YPA is clearly more efficient than trotting Mattison out there, averaging just 3.9 YPA. And it’s not like Mattison’s hard-nosed running style led to more scores either, he didn’t even have a rushing touchdown this season.

The Vikings may not feel like they have much of a choice but to keep Mattison on the roster, but honestly, giving those reps to anyone else, such as Chandler, Cam Akers after he rehabs another Achilles injury OR a late-round draft pick come April would probably benefit Kevin O’Connell’s offense more than another year of Mattison.

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