Who would be on the chopping block for a Viking reconstruction?
Kirk Cousins / Dalvin Cook
This is a sensitive topic as some Minnesota Vikings loyalists remain convinced that the 2021 season can be rectified. Minnesota is 3-4 to eight weeks away with an intimidating schedule ahead.
If the next few games throw themselves into the loss column, the franchise is heading for a reset involving the head coach and possibly the general manager. Anything that doesn’t make it to the 2021 Vikings playoffs will almost certainly lead to Mike Zimmer’s exodus. And then the verdict still fell on general manager Rick Spielman.
In the event that Spielman is made redundant, the Vikings could be on the verge of being completely rebuilt. These are the players who could be dumped in an asset sale if the hypothetical new regime seeks a fresh start.
Dalvin Cook (RB)
Cook is one of the most talked about cutting board names, mainly because a new GM may not believe in “paying the running backs.” While that may be true, a Cook trade in the next offseason would result in around $ 18 million in dead cap money for the Vikings. Would it be worth starting over and wiping the rest of Cook’s salary off the books? May be. It all depends on the state of mind of the new boss.
The Vikings are also moderately advanced in running backs with Alexander Mattison and rookie Kene Nwangwu. And to be sure, usually when full rebuilds happen, big-name full-backs are vamosized. Keep that in mind.
An expensive hatchback that sits in the middle of a spiked-tear rebuild looks counterproductive.
Eric Kendricks (LB)
Kendricks would be easier to move as trading him would “only” slap the Vikings with a cap of $ 8 million. He will be 30 in February – and those in their 30s do not usually participate in the rebuilding ceremonies.
The former UCLA student is one of the best middle linebackers in the world, and Kendrick’s abilities would be wasted inside a rags-to-maybe-rich rebuild. Kendricks has a few more years to perform at the Superman level it presents every week, so it should probably head to a competitor if Minnesota chooses not to participate in this conversation for a few years. Hell, he might even snatch All-Pro honors this season.
Adam Thielen (WR)
What a punch, eh?
Reconstructions do not discriminate. If the Vikings, in theory, want to start over, it’s obvious Mr. Minnesota would travel elsewhere for pass capture services. Thielen still plays a lot, but at his age (32 next year), his talents will decline in the coming years. This is just how it goes.
Thielen is another player, if traded, who would ring the Vikings front office for a big dead stopper figure. Before its next free agency – in 2025 – Minnesota would have had to pay around $ 20 million in dead-cap carnage. Sometimes, however, these penalties are lower during a rebuild phase.
Due to his history of bootstrap levitation, Thielen might choose to remain a Viking in perpetuity. Still, if he wants a Super Bowl ring when he’s in the Top 15 wide receivers, he should quit the team if they embark on a large-scale change.
Danielle Hunter (DE)
To rebuild or not to rebuild, Hunter’s contractual status is totally uncertain. He “bet on himself” in 2021, but his pectoral muscle had other plans. Hunter was lost for the remainder of 2021 less than a week ago.
Last summer, Hunter was the subject of all Viking contract news. Minnesota Coppers were compromised by moving money for Hunter’s wallet in 2021, pushing back the decision on his long-term future until this spring. The Vikings, as they wrote, have a decision to make on Hunter in about four months.
Hunter is incredibly good but will have missed 1.5 seasons in the past two years due to injury. Spielman – or another guy or girl – will have to decide his Vikings future.
And the theoretical reconstruction blurs this conversation even more.
Kirk Cousins (QB)
The one you came to see.
When a rebuild is the choice, the outgoing quarterback is the first product to leave (well, after the coach and general manager). Plus, the controversy over whether Cousins is good or not so good dominates media circles every week anyway.
Cousins has an infamous cap of $ 45 million through 2022. So the new GM has to get creative in swapping it with a franchise from Pittsburgh, Denver, Houston, etc. All $ 45 million in 2022 is fully guaranteed, dead chaos.
If Spielman remains in charge, the most likely plan for the offseason is a Zimmer exit and a Cousins mini-expansion as the Vikings gear up Kellen Mond or a 2022 rookie quarterback for Cousins’ departure after 2022.
But if the CEO is not appointed Spielman and he or she wants a whole new look, Cousins is gone. That person will just have to find a method to trade it away from the Vikings. It will be a gigantic undertaking.
Harrison Smith was not mentioned in this analysis due to his recent extension. He really seems like a player who could stick with the franchise for his entire career – a la Chad Greenway. But if you don’t buy it, throw it on this list as well.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. Its Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures listed: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, “The Sopranos” and The Doors (the band).