Five Vikings Who Are Possibly Playing Their Final Game in Purple

Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) and center Mason Cole (52) prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s matchup with the Bears will bring the season to a close for our friends in purple. It’ll be the final game of the Vikings season, and there are several players likely putting in their last game in Minnesota. It’s this reality that has prompted me to put together this list. Below, you’ll find a descending list with five guys who are possibly playing their final snaps as a Viking.

5. Adam Thielen

This one has nothing to do with on-field performance and everything to do with the salary cap. The veteran receiver is still an elite option when he’s on the field. However, there may be some concern about whether he’ll be able to stay on the field for a full 17-game season. Plus, his cap hit next season will be nearly $17 million. My hope is for an extension/restructure, but we’ll need to wait and see what happens.

4. Garrett Bradbury

This one has everything to do with on-field performance and very little to do with the salary cap. The former first-rounder is a bust. His salary in 2022 is a fully guaranteed $4.1 million. The Vikings would be wise to find a trade partner. A team that uses a zone blocking scheme may be willing to take on $2.25 million cap hit that accompanies the move.

3. Mack Alexander

The veteran has struggled as Minnesota’s slot corner, so it will almost certainly be his final game with the Vikings. The one thing working in his favor is how modest his contract is. Perhaps the Vikings will embrace a youth movement at corner, making a veteran more appealing. An unguaranteed minimum deal could keep him in town, though it’s still a long shot.

2. CJ Ham

Vikings fans won’t like this one, but it’s likely we’re seeing the last of Ham. He’s a well-compensated FB at a time when the team’s finances are tricky to manage. Moreover, the league as a whole devalues the position, though the current iteration of the Vikings offense uses him heavily. Even if the current regime sticks around, don’t be surprised if Ham needs to either take a pay cut or find a new team.

1. Tyler Conklin

Conklin has been getting some love on Purple PTSD lately. Josh Frey wrote about how he has a notable milestone coming up in the Week 18 game versus the Bears. The issue, at least from my perspective, is that he’ll likely command more than the Vikings can afford. Irv Smith Jr. will return for the 2022 season. Can the Vikings afford to pay a medium-sized amount of money to Conklin? In all likelihood, they’ll look for a cheaper blocking specialist as their TE2.

There is at least one very notable name not included on this list. That is Mr. Kirk Cousins. What the Vikings will do remains to be seen. I decided to leave him off the list since so much of his future depends on who the future HC and GM will be. Until then, we won’t know much. Regardless of who takes over, there will be no shortage of speculation.