Four Players That Could Be Playing Their Final Regular Season Game in a Vikings Uniform
The Minnesota Vikings are playing their final regular season game of the 2022 regular season this weekend, and inevitably, a number of players are probably playing their final regular season game in a Vikings uniform. Today, we’ll be going over four players that could potentially be making their final regular season appearances for Minnesota when they take on the Chicago Bears in Week 18.
This season has been a resounding success for veteran CB Patrick Peterson. In his second year with the Vikings, the 32-year-old CB has recorded 4 interceptions and 14 pass defenses, with each total being his highest since 2012. His 3 TFLs are also tied for a career-high that he set in 2019.
The Vikings were able to get Peterson on a $4 million contract for 2022 due to a disappointing season in 2021 for the cornerback. Now, though, even as Peterson enters his age-33 season in 2023, it seems very unlikely that they could get him for an equally low price.
As of now, Over the Cap has Minnesota siting at $5.7 million over the cap for 2023. They also still have to find a way to clear up enough money to offer Justin Jefferson a massive extension. Money could become a problem for the Vikings and their veterans.
This undoubtedly will be the most controversial player on this list. Adam Thielen has become a staple in the Minnesota Vikings offense, especially for his red zone capabilities. However, this season, and especially in recent weeks, Thielen has not been that presence, and certainly hasn’t lived up to his near $20 million cap hit for the 2023 season.
Granted, there have been injuries along the way that may be hampering Thielen’s performance this season, but Thielen turns 33 next season. We may be past the point where Thielen can be relied upon as a WR2 or even WR3, especially at the price tag he carries. Again, the Vikings cap situation is not the best.
Making this scenario even more likely is the fact that the Vikings have a potential out in Thielen’s contract this offseason. Don’t be surprised if the longtime Vikings receiver either plays elsewhere next season or takes a major pay cut.
Irv Smith Jr.
Following the most controversial choice with the most obvious, Irv Smith Jr.’s long-term future with the Vikings likely ended as soon as Minnesota traded for T.J. Hockenson at the deadline. Smith’s past two seasons have been completely derailed by injuries, playing zero games in 2021 due to a torn meniscus and appearing in just seven games this year.
Now, it’s worth noting that Smith is expected to be part of the Vikings playoff run. The Vikings also waived rookie tight end Nick Muse on Friday, opening up a spot for Smith to rejoin the 53-man roster this weekend. Smith may return to the field this weekend for the Vikings, and if he contributes for the playoffs, he could still earn himself a lucrative deal somewhere for the 2023 season.
Ever since the preseason, there have been rumblings that Alexander Mattison’s time in Minnesota may be coming to an end. Chris Tomasson reported over the summer that there was “no chance” of Mattison signing an extension with the Vikings and that he wants to be an RB1 somewhere.
So far, Tomasson has been proven right. Mattison didn’t sign an extension, and he is set to hit free agency at the end of the season. Additionally, Dalvin Cook has had the healthiest season of his career (playing all 16 games so far), giving Mattison very little reason to change his made. 2022 has had career-lows in both rushes and rushing yards for the fourth year running back. There’s a very good chance that he looks elsewhere this offseason.
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.