For the Vikings, It’s Sign Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (Well, Maybe Just for 2023)

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah isn’t bashful.

On the contrary, the young GM has pulled off some major moves since taking over for Rick Spielman. The roster overhaul is alive and well as Minnesota enters the 2023 season under the banner of the GM’s competitive rebuild. For the Vikings, that means getting into the postseason on a yearly basis as Adofo-Mensah tries to thread the needle, creating a Super Bowl contender without fully bottoming out.

Draft Prospect
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings roster has strengths and weaknesses, but there’s enough high-end talent — Justin Jefferson, Danielle Hunter, T.J. Hockenson, and Christian Darrisaw (among others) — to give the upcoming season an honest effort.

Part of the approach may thus involve agreeing to deals with some of the recently-interviewed free agents. The Vikings have met with several in recent weeks but haven’t officially signed any of the more well-known names. Is time running out?

Dwindling Free Agency Chances for the Vikings?

The news of Ezekiel Elliott’s deal and Dalvin Cook’s deal isn’t particularly surprising. The veteran RBs have long had interest from various teams and the season is less than a month away. Elliott and Cook both head to the AFC East in what will surely be one of football’s most formidable divisions.

CBS Sports Names the Vikings a "Value Pick" for Super Bowl 58
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The RB dominos falling points to a broader reality: time is running out for some of the league’s top free agents. Sure, there’s no rule against signing talent after the regular season begins, but wouldn’t it be preferable to onboard talent with some of the offseason left? A bit of an on-ramp before getting onto the highway is a good thing, folks.

The Vikings have had meetings with iOL Dalton Risner, CB Ronald Darby, and RB Kareem Hunt. Forced to guess, I’d say Vikings fans are most enthused about the prospect of bringing Darby to town. After all, the Vikings said goodbye to a ton of CB talent during the offseason, so the veteran defender could presumably slot in anywhere from CB3-CB5 and be a valuable part of Brian Flores’ defense.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns
Oct 21, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby (21) tackles Cleveland Browns wide receiver Anthony Schwartz (10) during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the concern for the Vikings is that Minnesota isn’t the only spot that’s looking to improve. In fact, this week’s opponent — the Tennessee Titans — have expressed interest in Darby, bringing the corner in for a visit (per Ian Rapoport of The NFL Network).

The still-unsigned Risner, Darby, and Hunt haven’t put pen to paper. Presumably, they’re yet to get a contract offer that satisfies their demands. Will that change soon? In all likelihood, both sides (team & player) are starting the feel the heat of September’s impending arrival.

Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, the Vikings are listed as having a bit more than $10.6 million in cap space. The total gives Minnesota some budget freedom without needing to pull off other moves to clear more room.

Signing all three FAs — Risner, Darby, Hunt — is very unlikely to happen, for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, the team could certainly circle back to one of the players to see if each side can find a mutually beneficial middle ground on a deal.

The team will host a pair of joint practices against the Titans on Wednesday and Thursday. On Saturday night, Kevin O’Connell’s team will take on Mike Vrabel’s team at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Maybe some more time to evaluate the Vikings’ roster will prompt Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to pick up the phone. If he continues to slow play things, Adofo-Mensah may have to content himself with seeing these players head elsewhere for the 2023 season.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap helped with this piece.