Hold Onto Your Skol Horns: Vikings Favored In One Game

Vikings

I don’t know about you, but I’m a realist. Of course, I’ve drank the purple Kool-Aid over the years, but my father was right. The Minnesota Vikings are average. They are… and I effing hate coming to that realization! They took some great steps trying to move out of that median this offseason, however, they have also made some extremely questionable decisions. Here are a few reasons Viking fans may want to hit the breaks before heartache rears its ugly head… again.

1. The Vikings are currently favored in one game for the 2024-25 season

In 2024, the Vikings’ schedule will include 10 games against teams who ended the season with winning records a year ago, including three games against teams that had 12 or more wins and one game against squads with five or fewer wins in 2023. That isn’t counting the Chicago Bears, who revamped their entire offensive side of the ball.

The first six games could determine whether or not this team will do anything in 2024. They start on the road to a team that defeated them in the 2022 playoffs. The subsequent week is their home opener against the previous NFC Champions, the San Francisco 49ers. Next up is an up-and-coming Houston squad looking to make a jump in CJ Stroud’s sophomore campaign. The Packers and the Jets await Minnesota after that. Could they go 0-6 in those games? Sadly, I could see it. However, the Vikings being the team that they are… will probably win a couple of those.

Here’s something to pour some cold water onto any optimism for the 2024-25 season. The Minnesota Vikings are not favored until week 13 against the Arizona Cardinals. That is December… as I said previously, that could make for a long September, October, and November.

2. Vikes will have the most dead cap in the league for the 2024 season

There are 57.3 million dollars of dead cap money for this upcoming season. This money consists of salaries being paid to players who are no longer on the team: Kirk Cousins, Danielle Hunter, Marcus Davenport (makeup 50 million), Dalvin Cook, Dean Lowry, Alexander Mattison, and Esezi Otomewo. One could argue that this is a good thing! I’m one of those people, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re paying players not on the current roster. It sucks.

3. Minnesota gave up a fair amount for two draft picks in the 2024 draft

The Vikings went all in on drafting two players in the top 17 picks of the 2024 NFL Draft. To acquire McCarthy, the Purple moved from spot 11 to 10 and gave up: Pick 11, 129, and 159. For Dallas Turner, the Vikings parted ways with the 23rd pick, pick 167, and a 2025 3rd and 4th-round pick. At the end of the day… it won’t matter what they gave up if McCarthy and Turner end up being studs, but it’s an enormous risk.

“We’re always talking about minimizing regret,” Adofo-Mensah said of the trade to move up one spot. “If you’re sitting on your couch one day and you’re like, that extra fifth, or whatever it was, and you could have had a chance at a guy that you think has traits and could be special — you’re never going to care about that fifth-round pick.”

4. The Vikings didn’t trade Danielle Hunter after Kirk Cousins tore his ACL

I’m still bitter about this one. What made this organization think Hunter and the Vikings would make a run last year? Letting Hunter sign with the Houston Texans for absolutely no compensation is beyond infuriating. There could’ve been some aspects fans did not know about, but this seems like professional maltreatment (a bit hyperbolic? Yeah, but it’s how I feel). Trading Hunter at last year’s trade deadline seemed to be the most logical decision. However, the Vikes decided to not move off of him.

General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was busy on deadline day, acquiring QB Josh Dobbs from the Cardinals and trading LG Ezra Cleveland to the Jaguars. But on a day when the Commanders moved both Montez Sweat (Bears) and Chase Young (49ers), a deal never materialized involving the Vikings’ star edge rusher.

According to NFL Insider Ari Meirov, the Detroit Lions were interested in Hunter’s services.

“One of the teams that did give Minnesota a call was their division rival Detroit Lions,” Meirov said on March 6. “Those two teams did do a trade previously with T.J. Hockenson. They didn’t do it this time…”

5. The Vikings couldn’t agree on extending Jefferson early, which made the price skyrocket

The Vikings reset the market again. Justin Jefferson was signed to a four-year extension worth 140 million dollars (110 million guaranteed). That contract reset the market for the highest non-QB contract in league history. If the Vikings signed Jefferson earlier… they could’ve potentially saved some cash. Players like Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle, A.J. Brown, and Nico Collins all signed contracts before Jefferson.

In terms of Jefferson’s camp, it was the best-case scenario. I’m not in love with paying a non-qb that kind of money. However, with a rookie quarterback… I get it. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.

1. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings: $35 million (four years, $140 million)

2. A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles: $32 million (three years, $96 million)

3. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions: $30.002 million (four years, $120.01 million)

4. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins: $30 million (four years, $120 million)

5. Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins: $28.25 million (three years, $84.75 million)

6. Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders: $28 million (five years, $140 million)

7. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams: $26.7 million (three years, $80.1 million)

8. DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles: $25 million (three years, $75 million)

9. Nico Collins, Houston Texans: $24.25 million (three years, $72.75 million)

10. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks: $24 million (three years, $72 million)

Buckle Up for a potentially UGLY 2024 season

There is no making this fanbase happy. I’m included in that category. 2024 could be a learning curve for this team. Countless questions come to mind. The quarterback situation will dominate the headlines this year. It should! The last franchise quarterback the Vikings had (who started for more than one season) was Daunte Culpepper. How will Brian Flores do with the new defensive weapons? What happens if Darnold plays above average or leads Minnesota to the playoffs (heaven-forbid a win in the postseason)? At what point do the Vikings declare Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr. busts? Cine has played a total of 10 defensive snaps for the Purple. Booth also dealt with injuries in his rookie year (2022). He has seen 151 total defensive snaps and could be deemed a project and still make the team in 2024. Could Adofo-Mensah be on the hot seat if McCarthy and Dallas Turner don’t… wait for it… turn out?

My first schedule prediction has the Vikes going 8-9. However, I could easily see that number dwindle. I sadly wouldn’t be shocked if Minnesota finishes with six wins or less.

Hold this team to a CHAMPIONSHIP STANDARD

OK. Here we are. The Vikes have a new shiny quarterback, a new weapon on defense, and a young offensive-minded head coach. This is the shot. If McCarthy hits, fans need to hold this team to a high bar. The goal is a Super Bowl. Not being competitive and squeaking into the playoffs… and maybe winning a game. The Minnesota Vikings are one of the best professional sports franchises to never win the big game.

Super Bowl Window?

In my opinion, I’m willing to be patient. If McCarthy is “the guy,” then the window starts in 2025. The Justin Jefferson contract reflects the Vikings’ expectations. I think it’s fair; four years of trying to compete for a Super Bowl.

Positives

  1. The Viking’s cap space for the 2025-26 season will be well over 100 million (one of the highest in the NFL).
  2. Rookie quarterback development is exciting!
  3. Weapons galore for McCarthy
  4. Brian Flores seems to be a Viking for a while…
  5. Rookie contracts at important positions

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