ESPN has a plan to help the Vikings improve this offseason

As Minnesota Vikings fans, we know that last season was full of great moments, but that heading into this offseason, there are a lot of holes to fill in order to make the next season successful.

The process to getting there will be an interesting one. The Vikings signaled that they were moving on from both cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson both had their contracts voided on Monday and will cost the Vikings $8.25 million in dead cap in 2023.

Bill Barnwell of ESPN released a series looking at the NFC teams and laid out the best way for the Vikings to improve this offseason.

“The hard work is just beginning for the Vikings, who are $21 million over the 2023 salary cap. To get there, the Vikings will need to make some tough choices on franchise icons. Wideout Adam Thielen has the second-largest cap hit on the roster at $19.1 million, and the 32-year-old failed to top 75 receiving yards in a single game in 2022. Designating Thielen as a post-June 1 release would free up $13.4 million in much-needed room, although they could instead ask him to take a pay cut from the $13.3 million he’s due. They also could free up $7.9 million by releasing running back Dalvin Cook, perhaps while using some of that money to re-sign Mattison. On defense, the Vikings will take a close look at two stalwarts: linebacker Eric Kendricks and safety Harrison Smith. Both are on the wrong side of 30, although the 34-year-old Smith did manage to pick off five passes this season. Releasing Kendricks would free up $9.5 million, while Smith would create another $15 million in space as a post-June 1 release.”

Barnwell lays out what a lot of fans already know, which is that the Vikings have tough decisions to face this offseason. Even with the tough decisions, the Vikings have many paths they can take to get better this offseason. In the same article, Kevin Seifert of ESPN mentioned a few other moves the Vikings could look to make this offseason.

‘The Vikings seemed to land a much-needed secondary pass-rusher when they added Za’Darius Smith last year, as he racked up 9.5 sacks over his first nine games. From that point forward, though, he had only a half-sack over his ensuing seven contests. Smith’s knee was a concern for teams in free agency and led the Ravens to back out of a move for their former player last March, and the Vikings can free up $13.7 million by cutting him. There’s also the elephant in the room: What will the Vikings do with Kirk Cousins? They owe the 34-year-old quarterback $30 million next season as part of a $36.3 million cap hit in what would be the final year of Cousins’ most recent contract. They could free up that $30 million by trading Cousins, but he has a no-trade clause. Adofo-Mensah could create cap space by extending Cousins, as he did before the 2022 season, but doing so only extends the passer’s tenure with the team and delays the inevitable. The Vikings seem likely to be in the market for a young quarterback as early as this offseason. While restructuring Cousins’ deal would free up room, it’s probably time to leave that tactic in the past, even if it costs them some of the players above.”

The likelihood that all these scenarios come to fruition this offseason is slim, but there is a very good chance that some of them do. GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah certainly has his work cut out for him, and it’s only a matter of time until we see which direction the team will take this offseason.

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Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire