Minnesota Vikings 2022 Offseason Preview: Pending free agents, team needs, draft picks, and more

What is the Minnesota Vikings' outlook in the 2022 NFL offseason as we examine their pending free agents, team needs, and draft picks?

After yet another mediocre season, the Minnesota Vikings head into the 2022 NFL offseason with a lot of question marks. Let’s take a look at the decisions the Vikings face in terms of pending free agents, team needs, and potential draft picks in 2022.

Minnesota Vikings 2022 Offseason Preview

Since the arrival of Kirk Cousins, Minnesota has appeared to be the same team every single season. They flash potential in moments, only to be tripped up in the most frustrating of ways. That was the case once again last season as they limped through the season and a second-place finish in the NFC North.

The offense remained an above-average unit, but the defense continues to be a major concern for the Vikings. They ranked as the 10th-worst (23rd) scoring defense in the league and the fourth-worst in terms of yards allowed. That is a minor improvement compared to 2020, but the defense continues to be a problem that the Vikings need to address in the 2022 offseason.

Minnesota has $-11.2 million in projected cap space

Source: Spotrac (as of Jan. 9)

Heading into the 2022 offseason, the Vikings are in serious trouble when it comes to cap space. They are projected to be more than $11 million over the 2022 salary cap, and there are not many easy paths out. Cousins provides the big question mark with his $45 million cap hit. Unless the Vikings can trade him, their only option for relief would be to ask Cousins to take a pay cut or extend his contract.

Minnesota has options to cut or trade players like Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, and Harrison Smith. However, they are all key parts of the defense and would have sizable dead money hits if they were to leave. DT Michael Pierce is perhaps the easiest release, as he’d free up $6.5 million. But even he would leave $4 million in dead money. How the Vikings navigate this offseason with Cousins and some big-name free agents will be fascinating.

Vikings’ pending free agents

The Vikings have a lot of intriguing potential free agents in 2022, but the majority of key free agents can be found on the defensive side of the ball. Those players stem from all three levels of the defense. If those spots are not addressed, Minnesota could have major defensive issues in 2022.

In the defensive backfield, they have CBs Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander, as well as S Xavier Woods becoming free agents. Woods played 100% of Minnesota’s defensive snaps in 2021, while Peterson and Alexander were both above 60%. With the team already releasing Bashaud Breeland, the Vikings’ top three CBs would be potentially off the roster this offseason.

There are key free agents everywhere on the defensive front. In terms of rushing the passer, both Sheldon Richardson and Everson Griffen are set to hit the market. At linebacker, Anthony Barr and Nick Vigil could also potentially leave. After Eric Kendricks, those two have played the most snaps at LB.

On offense, the free agents are limited. They are set to have a relatively small turnover of their starters, with TE Tyler Conklin arguably the most influential offensive player set to be a free agent this offseason.

How do the Vikings’ free agents rank among the best available in 2022? Be sure out our list of top free agents available at each position to find out.

Vikings’ team needs

The majority of the Vikings’ needs in 2022 revolve around their defense. The situation regarding Griffen is such that even if he returns in 2022, Minnesota would likely still want to address the position. There is also talk of Hunter departing, so edge is certainly expected to be a position of emphasis for the Vikings.

With key free agents on the defensive side of the ball, Minnesota will also need to look to reinforce linebacker, cornerback, and safety. Meanwhile, on offense, the Vikings may want to add another tight end to compete with Irv Smith Jr. They may also push to improve their offensive line with further additions.

Vikings’ top five needs in the 2022 NFL offseason

  • Edge rusher
  • Cornerback
  • Safety
  • Linebacker
  • Tight end

Vikings’ 2022 NFL Draft picks

The trouble with the Vikings is they continue to struggle enough to a point where they cannot be a contender, but they are not bad enough to have premium selections either. That means the Vikings’ draft pick situation is nothing overly special. They do have two extra sixth-round selections, but nothing in the fourth round. To see how the Vikings’ 2022 NFL Draft picks currently stand, check out the NFL draft order:

  • Round 1 (Pick 12)
  • Round 2 (Pick 14)
  • Round 3 (Pick 13)
  • Round 5 (Pick 13 — from BAL)
  • Round 6 (Pick 5 — from NYJ, 13, & 30 — from KC)
  • Round 7 (Pick 11)

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