Vikings Urged to Reunite With High-Value Offensive Starter in 2024

Kevin O'Connell, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings made a shrewd move last year by signing offensive guard Dalton Risner to a value contract a couple of games into the season, and could repeat that success again in 2024.

Matt Bowen of ESPN compiled a list of the best remaining NFL free agents and their top team fits around the league, highlighting a reunion between Risner and the Vikings amid those proposals.

“A return to Minnesota makes the most sense here for Risner, who logged a pass block win rate of 95.5% last season (fifth among guards) while allowing just two sacks,” Bowen wrote on Monday, May 20. “He can drop anchor in pass protection to close down interior rush lanes, and he displayed a rugged play style as a run-blocker in Kevin O’Connell’s offense. Minnesota currently has Blake Brandel and Ed Ingram slated to start.”

Dalton Risner Upset That Vikings, Other NFL Teams Continue to ‘Undervalue’ Him

Dalton Risner

Getty Offensive guard Dalton Risner, formerly of the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to Risner returning to Minnesota is how he feels the franchise has undervalued him after a quality campaign, which the offensive lineman has spoken openly and candidly about during the offseason.

Risner’s most recent comments came as part of an interview with WIBW, a CBS affiliate in Topeka, Kansas, during a charity golf tournament last month.

“I’m a guy [who] realizes I’m not the best guard in the league, but I know this: I’ve started 75 games in my five-year career. I don’t miss games due to injury, definitely don’t miss [them] due to anything but injury,” Risner said on April 17. “I’m a guy that you’re going to have counted on every single Sunday. … I’m not going to say I’m going to do it easily, but I’m going to block guys like Chris Jones and hold my own. And I’m just still undervalued.”

Dalton Risner Has Been Consistent Starter Over Entire 5-year NFL Career

Dalton Risner, Nick Mullens, Minnesota Vikings

GettyFormer Minnesota Vikings offensive guard Dalton Risner celebrates with quarterback Nick Mullens during an NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2023.

Risner began his career as a second-round pick of the Denver Broncos out of Kansas State in the 2019 NFL draft. He started all 62 games he played in Denver before the team let him walk in free agency following the 2022 campaign.

Risner remained a free agent until Week 3, when the Vikings added him on a $3 million contract on September 19. Four weeks later, Risner earned the starting job and held it for the remainder of the year. The four games he played in Minnesota prior to winning the starting position are the only four he has not started across his five-year career.

Zoltán Buday of Pro Football Focus (PFF) on ranked the Vikings offensive line 12th in the league following the 2023 regular season, though he named Risner among the weaker links in the starting lineup.

“Although the Vikings have one of the better offensive tackle duos in the NFL in Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill, they were on the field together for just 12 games in 2023,” Buday wrote on January 10. “In addition, while Garrett Bradbury improved in pass protection early in the season, the interior offensive line holds back this unit.”

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