The 5 Main Vikings Mysteries with NFL Free Agency Right Around the Corner

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Soon, the wait will be over.

The NFL’s free agency period will get started on Monday, March 11th. A couple days later, deals can officially be consummated as pen gets put to paper. The Vikings free agency plan remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say that there are a pile of players who would be of great assistance to Minnesota’s chances in 2024. Before getting to the point when these contracts can get sorted out, the Vikings have some mysteries hovering around the team.

Vikings Free Agency and The Mysterious Path Ahead

Mystery #1 — What Happens with the Top Pair?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) sacks Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter. Both are cornerstone players with a “C” on their chest. Both are looking to land a huge contract. Given their age — 35 for the QB, 29 for the EDGE — it may be their last shot to do so.

Recent days have featured no shortage of speculation about each player. Many believe that their days in Minnesota are numbered. The NFL is sure to offer ample interest in the twosome, with Cousins getting the larger deal but Hunter garnering interest from more teams.

However loud the noise grows, don’t entirely discount the possibility of a reunion with one or both. No, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah won’t back down from his convictions, but there’s still an ongoing desire all around for the partnership to continue.

Genuinely, nothing should shock us on this front. Anything seems possible heading into the final weekend prior to free agency.

Mystery #2 — Does the Justin Jefferson Extension Get Sorted Out Over the Weekend?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a pass for a touchdown and celebrates with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during second half of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

My best guess is that the extension waits.

The Vikings’ GM will turn his attention to more pressing matters (at least in terms of the NFL calendar). The not-so-fair reality is that Minnesota has at least a pair of seasons of team control with Jefferson. There’s the upcoming 5th-year option and then the franchise tag, if necessary.

The best course of action is to ensure things don’t get to that point. Needing to apply the tag would represent a failure from the Vikings’ organization. Nevertheless, there could plausibly be some patience in Eagan to circle back around to the extension during the summer months.

Mystery #3 — Do the Vikings Pry Away One of the NFL’s Trade Candidates?

Jan 21, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Latavius Murray (28) rushes the ball against Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (38)in the first half of the 2024 AFC divisional round game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Before jumping into the NFL, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah traded commodities. He now orchestrates trades aplenty as the Vikings’ GM (19 and counting).

Justin Fields has been mentioned as a QB option. And then there’s L’Jarius Sneed, a CB1 who sounds a lot like someone Brian Flores would be excited about working alongside. Other options are out there and it’s safe to say Minnesota will be doing their due diligence on this front. Last year, there were eleven trades in March. Do the Vikings join the frenzy in this round?

Mystery #4 — When Does the Lower-Level Internal Business Get Done?

NFL: New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) and offensive tackle Blake Brandel (64) and teammates react during the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The work has already begun. Safety Theo Jackson and tight end Nick Muse are back. Running back Alexander Mattison has been cut. More still needs to be done, though.

One thinks of do-it-all offensive lineman Blake Brandel as a safe bet to stick around. Harrison Phillips and Byron Murphy are strong extension candidates. And then there’s the potential to keep internal free agents like Brandon Powell, David Quessenberry, Jordan Hicks, K.J. Osborn, Austin Schlottmann, and Marcus Davenport (among others).

Furthermore, there’s likely to be another cut or two. Maybe Dean Lowry takes a pay cut, but it’s difficult to see a scenario where his contract doesn’t get adjusted somehow. And then there’s the lingering mystery with Harrison Smith, a franchise legend. Look for some firm news on Smith sooner rather than later.

Mystery #5 — How Aggressive are the Vikings in Free Agency?

Nov 5, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (94) reacts against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half during an NFL International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The roster has plenty of needs. The salary cap has plenty of space. The team’s leadership has plenty of interest in competing in 2024.

What happens when all of these ingredients get tossed into the cauldron and stirred around?

No doubt, there are some wonderful players available. And, to be sure, there’s good reason to believe several would welcome a contract in Minnesota. The team’s ownership and head coach each received an A+ grade in the recent NFLPA Team Report Cards. Players really respect Brian Flores and the facilities are top notch. Overall, the Vikings boast the 2nd-best working environment a year after finishing 1st.

Now, we’re still talking about the NFL; money still reigns supreme. If there are a pair of contract offers that are very close, though, Minnesota is likely to have an edge. Who doesn’t want to work in amazing facilities for well-respected coaches and an ownership group that’s willing to be generous with the team?

Some of the most compelling options include DT Christian Wilkins, RB Saquon Barkley, EDGE Jonathan Greenard, and LB Patrick Queen (among many others).

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.