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A look at the Minnesota Vikings future: Rebuild or contender?

2K4M0KW LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM. 02th, Oct 2022. Kirk Cousins of Minnesota Vikings looks on during NFL 2022 London Series - Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, 02 October 2022. LONDON ENGLAND. Credit: Taka G Wu/Alamy Live News

  • Rebuild or contender?: The Minnesota Vikings have toed the line between running it back and tearing it down over the last two offseasons, and the approach has left many wondering what exactly the plan is long-term.
  • Danielle Hunter‘s potential extension: Minnesota's future plans for their star pass-rusher will help give everyone an idea if the franchise views itself in a rebuild.
  • What to do at quarterback?: The Vikings have a tough decision at QB that is coming soon, and it will set the future trajectory of the franchise.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The Minnesota Vikings and their new brass have toed the line between running it back and tearing it down over the last two offseasons, and the approach has left many wondering what exactly the plan is long-term. The moves taken in totality truly do embody one of the most tired cliches in sports — they’re undergoing a “competitive rebuild” if we’ve ever seen one. 

The Vikings moved on from several franchise cornerstones this offseason, as wide receiver Adam Thielen joined the Carolina Panthers and linebacker Eric Kendricks moved back out west to sign with the Los Angeles Chargers. Minnesota’s 2022 defense had 24% of snaps played by players aged 30 or older, 10th-most in the NFL, and trading 30-year-old edge defender Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns after replacing him with 26-year-old edge defender Marcus Davenport in free agency was another attempt to inject youth into the unit. 

Dalvin Cook doesn’t exactly fit the “old” criteria at just 27 years old, but a $10.4 million salary for a running back didn’t make sense for a team that has a ton of holes at premium positions. In a general sense, it appears Minnesota asked themselves this question about every major decision on a well-paid veteran:

“Would Player X meaningfully contribute in 2024 and beyond?”

If the answer wasn’t a resounding yes to that question, they’ve decided to move on.

Extensions due soon

Edge defender Danielle Hunter becomes a fascinating piece of the puzzle because he seemingly straddles both sides of the equation. Hunter is entering his age 29 season, but we’re seeing edge defenders across the NFL maintain a high level of production well into their 30s. If Minnesota trades Hunter, they’d be moving on from nearly 150 quarterback pressures with the aforementioned Za’Darius Smith trade. 

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