Bleacher Report: Vikings Should "Jump-Start the Inevitable" and Begin Rebuilding
Can the Vikings, as currently constructed, win a Super Bowl? That is the question around which all other discussions originate.
If you believe in Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer, and Kirk Cousins, then the Vikings should spend this offseason finding ways to go all-in on 2020 and beyond. There are still many pieces, especially on defense, of a core that has the fifth-best winning percentage in the NFL since 2015 and should have three playoff wins during that span.
However, you can also look at it the other way. The Vikings have been demolished out of the playoffs in their last two attempts, and much of their core is already on the wrong side of 30 or heading there soon. They have the worst financial situation in the NFL, and still have to make decisions about whether or not to extend their star quarterback and running back. A rebuild could be coming soon, whether the Vikings like it or not, so it might be time to start that process this offseason.
Count Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski among those who think the Vikings should give up on their dreams of making a title run with this core. Sobleski listed five NFL teams who should completely rebuild in 2020, and included the Vikings as well as the Chargers, Bengals, Panthers, and Jaguars.
"This is an opportunity to jump-start the inevitable," Sobleski writes.
Sobleski cites the obvious with the Vikings' unenviable salary cap situation, as well as the fact that they have a number of key contributors hitting free agency. The Vikings will need to cut some veterans just to retain a few free agents and sign their draft class. But Sobleski isn't convinced that fixing the team's issues in the short-term will do much to change their long-term outlook.
Everything is pointing toward a potential blowup in 2021. Kirk Cousins' contract ends after the upcoming season. Both general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer are on the last years of their deals. Furthermore, the Vikings aren't one of the NFC's elite teams and of course have the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears in the same division. By now, the Vikings' championship window appears to have closed.
Sobleski makes a reasonable case. And while he may be right about the Vikings' window being closed, I don't necessary think the presence of the Packers (who didn't do much better than the Vikings did against the 49ers) or the Bears (who still have Mitch Trubisky as their quarterback) are a reason to rebuild.
The problem with Sobleski's argument for rebuilding lies within one of the reasons he gave for doing so. Because Spielman and Zimmer don't have long-term contract guarantees, they don't have the time or leverage to tear everything down and begin a rebuild in 2020. They're going to go for it with what they have.
If it doesn't work out in 2020, the rebuild will be here in a year. This upcoming season may be the Vikings' last chance to make a run at a title with this core in place.