5 Vikings Questions Yet to Be Answered as Free Agency Officially Begins

Vikings Questions
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) runs after a catch against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency officially began at 4 PM EST on Wednesday, March 15th, and the Minnesota Vikings have already been quite busy throughout the “legal tampering” period. However, a number of Vikings questions are still yet to be answered as the free agency period officially gets underway. Here are five of those questions that should be resolved soon.

Will Harrison Smith Take a Pay Cut?

The Vikings Can Eliminate Their Salary Cap Debt with 1 Move
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) looks on prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have a number of moves that they can make in order to free up more cap space to officially sign free agents that they’ve agreed to terms with as well as aquire more free agent players.

One way to do that is by restructuring Harrison Smith’s contract to lower his $19.1 million cap hit. There have been reports that this news could come at any time now, but we still do not know whether the veteran safety will be a Viking in 2023 nor how much money he will make.

What Happens with Za’Darius Smith?

Za'Darius Smith Wants to Be Released
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

A little under a week ago, pass rusher Za’Darius Smith requested to be released by the Vikings after a 10-sack season in 2022 during his first year in Minnesota. The Vikings seem to be preparing for this move with their recent acquisition of Marcus Davenport, and the move would save the Vikings about $12.1 million in cap space if they did release them.

Considering that they signed Davenport for $13 million, this seems like a very near one-for-one replacement. Even still, we don’t know for sure how this situation will pan out for the Vikings. If they somehow kept Smith, they have a very intriguing trio of pass rushers with these two and Danielle Hunter.

Will Dalvin Cook Get Traded?

The Vikings Could Be Shaking Things Up in Their RB Room
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs on the field during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

There were reports over the weekend that the Vikings may be “open for business” regarding their starting RB Dalvin Cook this offseason. These reports suggested that Cook could be traded, and the Vikings would pursue Alexander Mattison to stick around and take over the RB1 spot.

However, there seems to be little traction of such an event taking place in the aftermath of these reports. Of course, the possibility still remains, but with Austin Ekeler requesting a trade and Ezekiel Elliott joining an already very deep RB free agency class, the Vikings probably won’t get a ton in return for the veteran RB.

Who Gets Contract Extensions?

Justin Jefferson Lands First Award of 2022 Season
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) reacts after the game against the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

While the Vikings build their team for 2023 in free agency and the draft, they can also continue building for the future this offseason through multiple players that are eligible for contract extensions. A few of these players include LG Ezra Cleveland, TE T.J. Hockenson, and of course, star WR Justin Jefferson.

Of course, Jefferson’s extension should be a top priority for the Vikings in the coming weeks, but these other two are certainly worthy candidates as well, and such a move can help free up more cap space right now as well.

Who Replaces Adam Thielen?

Purple Headlines of the Week
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings got the offseason started by cutting ties with a few fan favorites of the franchise. One of those cuts was wide receiver Adam Thielen, and now, Minnesota has to take on the task of replacing him and his production.

The most obvious way to do so is through the draft, so this question could quite possibly be the final one that we have an answer to in the coming weeks. Candidates in that draft class, particularly in the first round, include Zay Flowers, Jalin Hyatt, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

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.