The strengths and weaknesses of the Minnesota Vikings’ roster have been discussed ad nauseam over the season. The receivers are elite, but the offensive guards often undermine the passing game. The Harrison Smith–Anthony Harris safety tandem is among the best in the NFL, but the defensive line’s inability to generate consistent pressure often undermines the secondary’s effort. There is still plenty to learn about these Vikings even though there are only three games left. Fortunately, Minnesota faces the Chicago Bears, a team that has recently given them a really tough time. The Bears game will function as a litmus test for the Minnesota Vikings roster.
Evaluating The Minnesota Vikings Roster
Plenty of Good
It’s indisputable that there is plenty of high-end talent on the Minnesota Vikings’ roster, especially on offense. Gary Kubiak has an array of strong skill players to work with, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen foremost among them.
Part of the issue, though, is that there are several weak points that undermine Minnesota’s best efforts. The guards have struggled, and Garrett Bradbury has slowed down after an impressive start to the season. Riley Reiff and Brian O’Neill are both relatively strong options at tackle, but the impending Covid-Cap will create issues.
Indeed, Reiff is scheduled to account for just under $14 million of next season’s salary cap, per Over The Cap. Keeping him for this season was the right decision, but can they justify this kind of money for a tackle who is merely above average? It’s a tough decision. One has to think that a large part of the equation rests in how well the Vikings play in these final games.
If they win the next three games and get into the playoffs, will Rick Spielman be more inclined to keep some of the expensive vets? What if they get into the playoffs and actually have some success? Minnesota would have a tough time making significant changes to a roster that was resilient enough to find playoff success after a 1-5 start.
The inverse may also be a powerful influence of Spielman’s decision-making. If the Vikings lose these next three games, will Spielman be more inclined to cut or trade some of the expensive vets? Reiff will likely be looking for a new team. Kyle Rudolph hasn’t lived up to his contract, and one could argue that Shamar Stephen is overpaid.
Minnesota is in a difficult position. The impending game against Chicago will likely impact how the Vikings proceed with their roster during the offseason.
I’m not privy to what the front office is thinking, nor does my opinion factor into the team’s direction (thank God). That being said, I tend to believe that the team’s performance over these next few games will have an impact on the upcoming roster decisions. Last offseason, the Vikings recognized that they needed to reset their team. The result was a defensive purge and a 15-person draft class. So far, that plan has led to both impressive and unimpressive games. The Vikings are now clinging to slim playoff hopes.
At 6-7, the Chicago Bears are similarly clinging to some modest playoff aspirations. The Bears have been a mess since they started 5-1, but they’ve always played Minnesota tough. It’s going to be a fascinating game since the implications extend far beyond simply the immediate playoff race. Indeed, a loss to the Bears may signal that the Minnesota Vikings have more work to do with their roster.
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