The Vikings Seem Likely to Lose 2 Veteran Defenders in Free Agency

The Minnesota Vikings have a number of players set to hit free agency this offseason. A total of 20 players were set to hit unrestricted free agency when the offseason began, and now, the Vikings seem likely to lose at least two of their veteran defenders in free agency this offseason.

You see, on Monday afternoon at 3 PM, two contracts voided for the Vikings. Those contracts belonged to CB Patrick Peterson and DL Dalvin Tomlinson. As a result, the Vikings have now taken on an additional $8.25 million of dead money applied to the 2023 salary cap. You can see in the tweets below, Luke Braun of Locked On Vikings and Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune tag-teamed this one to confirm that this was the case.

The Tomlinson dead cap is particularly egregious at $7.5 million, and if the Vikings truly intended on keeping the defensive lineman around in 2023, they likely would have tried to extend him in order to avoid this dead money. Instead, the contract voided, and Tomlinson more than likely will enter unrestricted free agency on March 15th where he will sign with a different team.

One Dalvin Out
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (94) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the third quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Peterson reasonably could still re-sign with the Vikings as his dead money only amounts to $750,000, but again, if Minnesota truly intended to keep him around, it would be much more cap-conscious for a team more than $23 million above the salary cap to avoid adding this dead money.

It does make some sense that the Vikings would opt to go in a different direction rather than run it back with these two players. A Brian Flores defense, in all likelihood, is going to need cornerbacks that are strong presences in press, man-to-man coverage. This requires fast, physical athletes that can win one-on-one battles with wide receivers.

Patrick Peterson used to be the ideal type of player for that role, but that simply isn’t the case. The future Hall of Famer is going to be 33 years old when the 2023 season begins, and while he made some clutch plays for the Vikings in 2022, he found more success in Donatell’s “shell” defense that gave up a ton of yards in the short passing game.

A Look at the Jets in Week 13
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Meanwhile, the Vikings also have some intriguing young options on the interior of their defensive line that will be much cheaper than Tomlinson. One player that comes to mind is Khyiris Tonga, who stepped up for the Vikings in the second half of the season when Tomlinson, Jonathan Bullard, and James Lynch were recovering from injuries.

Tonga already got a new contract with the Vikings for 2023 worth $940,000. This is a bargain for a player that played some very strong football and even made starts in the final stretch of the regular season. With some continued development, he could be part of the Vikings plan for the future.

Purple Headlines of the Week: Flores Presser, Vikings Re-Sign 2 Players, Derek Carr Hits FA
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA;Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga (95) against the Buffalo Bills in the fourth quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

In all, if the Vikings were to try and retain either Peterson or Tomlinson, they would have ideally worked out new deals before the contracts voided on Monday. It’s not impossible for either of them to be back in purple for 2023 (especially Peterson), but it seems much more fiscally responsible, and perhaps crucial for Flores’ defensive scheme, for Minnesota to find new options at those positions.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.