Mar 7, 2023 - Sports

The Minnesota Vikings could see some big roster shake ups this offseason

Eric Kendricks high fives teammates

The Vikings cut Eric Kendricks on Monday. Photo: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Monday's release of Eric Kendricks might only be the beginning of a massive makeover of the Minnesota Vikings.

What's happening: The Vikings are shedding big salaries as they try to cut down their payroll ahead of next season. They entered the offseason needing to cut at least $23 million to get under the salary cap.

Why it matters: Kendricks and several other players who could be on the chopping block have been the face of the franchise for the past seven to 10 years.

Zoom in: Here are other players who could also be released, traded, or asked to take a pay cut.

  • Adam Thielen: The Minnesota-raised wide receiver is coming off back-to-back lackluster seasons and turns 33 in August. He has a $20 million cap hit next year, according to Spotrac.
  • Harrison Smith: The six-time Pro Bowl safety is still playing at a high level, but he's 34 and has a $19 million cap hit next year.
  • Za'Darius Smith: The pass rusher played great for nine games last year, but struggled late in the season due to injuries. He already put his Eagan house on the market. The Vikings could save $12 million by cutting him.
  • Dalvin Cook and C.J. Ham: Pass-happy head coach Kevin O'Connell doesn't want to spend so much money on a running back and fullback. Cutting this duo would save the Vikings $11 million.

Between the lines: The Vikings may have finished 13-4 last season, but they won almost every game by one score.

  • They can't bank on that happening again, especially with an aging roster.
  • General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will have to find a way to get younger with limited money and draft picks to use.

The intrigue: The other big question is what Adofo-Mensah will do with Kirk Cousins, who has just one year left on his contract.

  • Cousins has gone 46-33-1 as a starter for the Vikings, but he has just one playoff win in five seasons and turns 35 in August.
  • Will Adofo-Mensah extend the quarterback for a couple more seasons or decide to let him play out his contract and leave?

My thought bubble: Cut or trade Za'Darius Smith, Cook and Ham, and they should tell Thielen to take a pay cut or they will release him.

  • Spend some of that freed up money to keep Dalvin Tomlinson and extend Danielle Hunter.

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