Pro Football Focus recently gave out offseason grades to all 32 NFL teams, and they are mostly indifferent on the Vikings' first spring under new leadership, giving Minnesota a C+ for its efforts. That takes into account the "below average" grade PFF gave the Vikings for their free agency period and the B grade they gave out for GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's first draft class.
Here's what PFF's Sam Monson had to say about the Vikings' offseason.
The Vikings' offseason has been about roster maintenance rather than the complete overhaul many expected. The Vikings found like-for-like replacements for outgoing players such as defensive tackle Michael Pierce or offensive lineman Mason Cole with Harrison Phillips and Austin Schlottmann in free agency. Jordan Hicks was an intriguing free agent signing at linebacker, and that was augmented by picking Brian Asamoah in the third round. That pair indicates the Vikings are intent on getting more athletic and coverage-focused at the position.
Much of the draft was dedicated to defense, with Lewis Cine added at safety with their first selection and Andrew Booth Jr. at cornerback with their next pick. Booth could be a huge value pick given where he was selected. He has first-round talent but seemingly slipped due to injury red flags. If the Vikings can keep him upright, he could immediately start for them.
Overall, Minnesota didn’t do much wrong this offseason, but neither did it make any moves that look certain to transform expectations or propel this team somewhere it wasn’t already destined to go. The team either believes the biggest issues were coaching, or this is a longer-term project.
It's a fair assessment, in my opinion. I will say that signing Za'Darius Smith should've warranted a mention in the free agency section, and that Chris Reed and Jesse Davis, not Austin Schlottmann, are the notable offensive line additions. But it's true that the Vikings focused on defense this offseason — and that they mostly treaded water from a big-picture standpoint.
The Vikings used the term "competitive rebuild" to describe their plan of attack. On paper, they followed through with that approach. They made win-now moves like extending Kirk Cousins and retaining all of their core veterans, signing free agents at positions of need, and adding potential instant-impact players in the first few rounds of the draft. They also began looking to the future by drafting possible long-term replacements for aging veterans Harrison Smith (Lewis Cine), Patrick Peterson (Andrew Booth Jr.), and Eric Kendricks (Brian Asamoah II).
Monson brought up a point that we've been discussing for a while now: the Vikings clearly think coaching was the biggest issue with the team last year. They're running it back with largely the same roster that went 15-18 over the past two seasons because they believe Kevin O'Connell and his staff can get more out of the players that are in place. Their theory is that better coaching — paired with slight roster tweaks and healthy seasons from players like Danielle Hunter and Irv Smith Jr. — can get the Vikings back to the playoffs.
They might be right.
But if they aren't, some of the moves they made this offseason might end up looking like poor decisions, particularly the ones (like extending Cousins) that impacted their financial flexibility in the years to come.
The 2022 season is going to be a fascinating one for O'Connell, Adofo-Mensah, and the entire Vikings organization.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all offseason long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.