It Seems the Vikings Have Solved One of Their Offseason Mysteries

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

For years, the Minnesota Vikings were forced to scramble and piece together offensive lines.

However, continuity amongst that group has proven to be one of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s biggest focuses throughout his tenure as general manager. In fact, 2023 proved to be the first season that featured the same starting five along the o-line as the previous year’s in a decade.

This offseason, though, the Vikings entered the spring with questions at one position: left guard. That mystery has been solved though after the re-signing of Dalton Risner which took place earlier this week.

The Vikings Have Solved One of Their Offseason Mysteries

Aug 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Dalton Risner (66) in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The news was reported on Wednesday, and on Friday, the Vikings made the signing official, tweeting, “He’s back. The #Vikings have re-signed [Dalton Risner] @Dalton_Risner66!”

Of course, the Vikings won’t have the same five on the starting offensive line this fall. That outcome was guaranteed after Minnesota decided to trade Ezra Cleveland to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft,.

Cleveland was a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he started the first six games of the 2023 campaign for Minnesota before going down with a foot injury. Thus, Risner was put into the starting lineup where he remained throughout the rest of the season.

Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ezra Cleveland (72) blocks Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (97) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Still, the majority of snaps last year went to Risner, which will benefit the Vikings in a number of ways for 2024.

There is a chance that J.J. McCarthy, the 10th overall pick this spring, could be Minnesota’s starting QB this year after Kirk Cousins left the franchise in free agency. If McCarthy is the starter, the Vikings’ offensive line will need to keep his jersey clean in order to make things as easy on the rookie as possible.

Since the quintet of Christian Darrisaw, Risner, Garrett Bradbury, Ed Ingram, and Brian O’Neill have developed chemistry together, that task becomes a lot easier.

Additionally, Risner taking over the left guard role again allows the versatile Blake Brandel to not be pigeon-holed into the position. Brandel has made starts at left tackle, right tackle, and right guard for the Vikings over his career, so if the Vikings have needs at any of these positions, he will once again be able to fill in whichever spot requires his services.

Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Blake Brandel (64) during the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings finished the 2023 season with PFF’s third-best pass blocking grade (74.4) and 10th-best run blocking grade (65.0). Hopefully, this signing ensures a similar result in 2024.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Focus.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of 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.