The decision surrounding the Minnesota Vikings‘ next general manager and head coach will be vital for the franchise’s future.
But until that decision is concrete, players could feel uncertain of their futures in Minnesota.
Cornerback Tye Smith is one of them.
A veteran going on his seventh season who signed on as a free agent last summer and played in five games this season but was reluctant to sign a new deal with the team.
The Vikings recently signed eight players to futures contracts on Monday and extended an offer to Smith, who did not sign the deal yet. He wants to “wait and see what happens with the new general manager and coach before possibly re-signing, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reported.
The players who agreed to futures contracts that will count against the 90-man training camp roster include: second-year linebacker Tuf Borland (undrafted, Ohio State), third-year safety Myles Dorn (undrafted, North Carolina), third-year receiver Trishton Jackson (undrafted, Syracuse), second-year receiver Myron Mitchell (undrafted. UAB), fifth-year cornerback Parry Nickerson (sixth-round, Tulane), fifth-year tackle Timon Parris (undrafted, Stony Brook) second-year running back A.J. Rose Jr. (undrafted, Kentucky) and second-year defensive tackle T.J. Smith (undrafted, Arkansas).
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Vikings Defense Could See Another Exodus
After the 2021 rehaul of the Vikings defense didn’t go according to plan, Minnesota could see another mass exodus of veteran talent.
Four-time linebacker Anthony Barr has already hinted that he may have played his final game with the Vikings. Barr’s contract was restructured last offseason, allowing him to reach free agency in 2022. As the first draft pick of the Mike Zimmer era, Barr’s loyalty to Minnesota may have left with the former head coach who was fired on Monday.
Beyond Barr, several other starters could reach free agency this offseason.
Veteran cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander, linebacker Nick Vigil, defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson and safety Xavier Woods are all set to reach unrestricted free agency this offseason after signing one-year deals with the Vikings.
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New Regime Will Have to Prioritize Rebuilding Defense
While the Vikings ought to find a coach who can help the Vikings’ talented offense realize its potential, the defense should not be overlooked and needs a rebuild.
Minnesota will have to work out a contract extension or trade Danielle Hunter before the third day of the league year to avoid paying him his full $18 million signing bonus. If the two sides reach an agreement, the Vikings will have a Pro Bowl talent at each level of the defense in Hunter, linebacker Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith.
Defensive end and cornerback should be a high priority this offseason, and both have been the most drafted positions in mock drafts around the NFL. The Vikings should also shop in free agency but don’t have significant cap space to make a splash move.
Kirk Cousins will continue to be a contentious talking point this offseason, carrying a $45 million cap hit approaching the team coffers in the upcoming season. A contract extension or trade could help provide Minnesota with the cap relief needed to be buyers in free agency.