Now with the 2021 NFL season officially in the books for the entire league, offseason preparations are now in full swing for the Minnesota Vikings and the rest of the NFL.
This offseason will be an important one for the future of the Minnesota Vikings organization, with newly hired general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell now leading the organization in 2022 and beyond. Not only is that going to be an important aspect to keep an eye on, but Minnesota also has a roster that could win now and make the postseason in the new year.
The Vikings aren’t in rebuilding mode yet and could try and do all they can to win now, but some big decisions on which players return to the team in 2022 will have to take place in the coming months. As those decisions begin to take place, here are some key upcoming events to keep an eye on this offseason and how they might shape Minnesota’s roster.
Key Upcoming Events in Minnesota Vikings Offseason
NFL Scouting Combine
Without any delay, the offseason schedule will quickly begin, starting with the annual NFL Scouting Combine from March 1-7 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
This will be an important first task for both Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell in scouting prospects to figure out how they would ultimately like to shape this Vikings roster in 2022. If the duo ends up finding a few prospects at the Combine that could make for solid inclusions to the roster in the new year, perhaps that persuades the new regime to part ways with some more expensive Vikings players before the season begins.
You think the front office and coaching staff would give a long look at some defensive prospects at the Combine, given that’s the biggest area of need on the roster following the 2021 campaign.
Free Agency Negotiation Period
One of the more entertaining time of the offseason for NFL fans is when free agency opens up and when players are finally able to negotiate contracts with teams. This year, this period will begin in the middle of March, spanning from March 14-16. The negotiation period leads up to the start of the new league year on March 16, when players can officially put pen to paper on contracts.
This period is normally one to look forward to for teams, but Minnesota might be forced to have a bit of a quieter free agency period given the salary cap situation the team is in. The Vikings are projected to be about $15.3 million over the cap in 2022, according to Over The Cap. That means Minnesota wouldn’t be able to go after some top-tier free agents, although you can never count out trades or releasing which would obviously clear some space under the salary cap.
Either way, this period will be interesting to keep an eye on to see just how aggressive the Vikings are or even can be.
New League Year
After the free agency negotiation period, the new league year will officially arrive on March 16 marking the start of the 2022 campaign. It is also a time when free agent signings and any trades can be made official throughout the league, regardless of reports that circulate prior to that point.
This is where things could get very interesting for the Vikings and it will likely be a period where the front office and coaching staff will begin the process of making some major decisions with the roster before the season begins. Notably, Minnesota will have to decide on if it wants to hang onto Kirk Cousins or if a trade for the veteran quarterback could take place. There are also players like defensive end Danielle Hunter, wide receiver Adam Thielen, safety Harrison Smith, linebacker Anthony Barr, and others who the Vikings could decide to part ways with to create some space for other offseason additions.
Of all the key offseason dates, this is probably the most important in shaping the roster going into 2022. This could be the time where we see a much different Vikings team beginning to take shape or if Minnesota decides to bring back a majority of the roster from last year.
Once the decisions with the roster have taken place for the most part, or at the very least the Vikings have an understanding of who will make up the roster in 2022, the next key date is the start of offseason programs on April 4.
This is an important period to look forward to due to O’Connell and his coaching staff taking over on the sidelines. It will be a time where O’Connell will be able to get in front of his roster and begin to establish himself as the new head coach of the Vikings, while beginning to scheme and plan for the upcoming year.
The start of the offseason programs mark the start of the actual work on the field, meaning the start of the regular season and a new era in Minnesota is inching closer.
The final big item on the offseason calendar for NFL teams is the NFL Draft, which will take place from April 28-30. Before the compensatory picks are awarded to teams leading into the draft, Minnesota holds eight picks in 2022, headlined by the 12th overall selection.
Outside of the 12th overall pick, the Vikings have one second-round pick, one third-round pick, one fifth-round pick, three sixth-round picks, and one seventh-round selection. As mentioned, that list will expand depending on what compensatory picks Minnesota is awarded, but it has a decent range of picks to try and acquire talent with.
The draft will be important for first-year general manager Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings front office, especially with the salary cap situation of the team. Minnesota will have to bring in some cheaper talent on both sides of the ball to be able to afford some more expensive contracts already residing on the roster.
No matter what unfolds this offseason, it will be an important one for the Vikings in many aspects. From the new regime taking over to shaping the roster in 2022 and beyond, these key offseason dates will be worth watching to see how things shake out in Minnesota.
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