Recapping the Landing Spots for 8 Vikings Who Left in Free Agency
When CB Chandon Sullivan signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the draft, the final piece of the Vikings free agency puzzle officially fell. In all, of all the Vikings free agents this offseason, eight of them left Minnesota for different teams. With this free agency puzzle officially solved, here is a recap of all eight landing spots for the Vikings who left in free agency.
DT Dalvin Tomlinson: Cleveland Browns
Dalvin Tomlinson was a steady contributor for the Vikings in each of the past two seasons, recording 81 tackles and five sacks since heading to Minnesota in 2021. During the 2022 season, the 28-year-old saw his first missed games of his career due to injury, but still recorded 42 tackles and tied a career high with 10 QB hits. Now, his steady production has been rewarded, and he will make $57 million over the next four years with the Cleveland Browns.
WR Adam Thielen: Carolina Panthers
The Vikings opted to cut Adam Thielen this spring due to his hefty $19.7 million cap hit in 2023. After 10 years with the Vikings, the veteran wide receiver and Minnesota native had to look outside of the North Star State to find his next football team. The two-time Pro Bowler landed on his feet, though, inking a three-year, $25 million deal with the Carolina Panthers where he will be catching passes from first overall pick Bryce Young.
LB Eric Kendricks: Los Angeles Chargers
Another longtime starter for the Vikings was cut this offseason when LB Eric Kendricks saw his time come to an end in Minnesota. The 2019 All-Pro recorded 919 tackles, 54 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks over his eight years with the Vikings, and now, he heads to the Los Angeles Chargers, joining Brandon Staley’s defense on a two-year, $13.5 million deal.
CB Patrick Peterson: Pittsburgh Steelers
Following a bit of a down year in 2021, Patrick Peterson had one of the more productive seasons of his illustrious career in 2022 with the Vikings. Perhaps part of this had to do with Ed Donatell’s drop defense, making it harder for him to get beaten deep, but Peterson’s 9 pass break-ups were a career-high, and his 5 interceptions were the most he’s recorded in a season since 2012.
The huge year made him a hot commodity on the free agent market, even at nearly 33 years old, and he landed a 2-year, $14 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who needed to find someone to replace Cam Sutton in the secondary.
TE Irv Smith Jr: Cincinnati Bengals
Irv Smith Jr. was one of the more expected departures from Minnesota following the trade to acquire T.J. Hockenson during the 2022 season as well as the signing of Josh Oliver in free agency.
After showing promise in 2019 and 2020 behind Kyle Rudolph, catching 30+ passes for 300+ yards in each season, injuries derailed both the 2021 and 2022 campaigns for Smith. As a result, he is a player in need of a fresh start, so he joins a tight end-needy team in the Cincinnati Bengals where he will join Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase.
CB Duke Shelley: Las Vegas Raiders
To the chagrin of many Vikings fans, Duke Shelley left in free agency after closing the season as one of the best cornerbacks in the league last season. He was thrown into the Vikings starting lineup in a pinch due to injuries holding both Andrew Booth Jr. and Akayleb Evans out, and he performed beautifully, allowing just 22 receptions on 45 targets and recording a ridiculous 11 pass breakups.
Pro Football Focus gave him a coverage grade of 86.4 for his efforts in 11 games last season, which ranked third in the entire NFL. Clearly, though, the league isn’t buying that he can repeat this elite coverage in 2023 because he signed with the Raiders on just a one-year deal worth $1.3 million.
CB Kris Boyd: Arizona Cardinals
Kris Boyd was a terrific special teams producer for the Vikings throughout his first four NFL seasons after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2019 Draft. Now, he is headed to the Arizona Cardinals and will likely take on a similar role under new head coach Jonathan Gannon. Boyd’s deal with the Cardinals is for one year and worth around $1.2 million.
CB Chandon Sullivan: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Vikings were hoping they would find a solution to their slot cornerback position when they signed Chandon Sullivan in free agency last season, but alas, that never truly worked out. In his sole season with the Vikings, Sullivan struggled, recording 51 tackles, and on 95 targets, he allowed 75 receptions for 858 yards and a touchdown. He was the final piece of the Vikings free agency puzzle to fall, and he re-joins Patrick Peterson in Pittsburgh. Details of the contract are yet to be released, however.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. 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.