The NFL’s Official Opening of Free Agency Was a Relatively Quiet Day for the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were a very busy team during the two days of “legal tampering” prior to the official start of free agency. However, the official opening of free agency on Wednesday was a rather slow day in Minnesota. Let’s recap how things have gone down for the Vikings so far.

On Monday, the Vikings signed multiple players such as EDGE Marcus Davenport and TE Josh Oliver while we also saw news of multiple former Vikings signing with new teams. One of the more notable of these signings was Patrick Peterson joining the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Official Opening of Free Agency
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) celebrates his interception during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday brought with it a theme of continuity while also sneaking in another late-night splash in the open market with the signing of CB Byron Murphy. Throughout the day, we saw a Kirk Cousins contract restructure that saved $16 million as well as re-signing of multiple players such as:

However, things slowed down significantly on Wednesday’s actual free agency opener. Minnesota made two moves of note, outside of officially announcing the signings of these aforementioned players. The first move was to re-sign TE Ben Ellefson after, just hours prior, opting to decline his RFA tender.

This tender would have paid Ellefson $2.627 million, but declining it opened up the option for the tight end to test the waters of unrestricted free agency. Still, due to his relatively small role with the Vikings over his first two seasons, it was highly unlikely that he’d find a deal elsewhere to pay him near that amount. This allowed the Vikings to sign him to a deal that presumably will be cheaper than that tender.

The other big signing for the Vikings was bringing back RB Alexander Mattison. This move likely surprised a few folks, especially after Mattison and the Vikings were unable to reach a contract extension last offseason. The assumption heading into 2022 was that the backup RB would play out the final year of his contract before signing elsewhere in a starting role.

Vikings Beat the Bears, Win 13th Game of the Season
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) greets fans after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Instead, the 24-year-old lands back in Minnesota on a two-year/$7 million contract with $6.35 million in guarantees. This deal is not lucrative enough to have much of an opinion either way, but there is certainly reason to believe that this could be the end of the line for Dalvin Cook, who is set to carry a $14.1 million cap hit in 2023. The Vikings can save $9 million of cap space if they designate Cook as a post-June 1st cut.

Overall, there are still plenty of big moves yet to come for the Vikings, and plenty of questions left to be answered for this roster. Just because Wednesday was a slower day for the Vikings, does not mean we should assume the moves are over. Names like Cook, Justin Jefferson, Brian O’Neill, Harrison Smith, and Za’Darius Smith are a few to keep an eye on over the next few days.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.