The Minnesota Vikings may have won the NFC North title in 2022, but they appear to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL as they prepare for the new season.
The Vikings put together a 13-4 record under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell and they won the NFC North with relative ease. Kirk Cousins was the architect of numerous comebacks with the Vikings, and he was often at his best when the game was on the line in the 4th quarter.
The key to the season may may have been the development and growth of wide receiver Justin Jefferson. He had been outstanding in his first 2 seasons with the team, gaining 1,400 receiving yards and scoring 7 touchdowns as a rookie in 2020, and following that with 1,616 yards and 10 TDs in 2021.
Jefferson was already one of the best receivers in the league, but he continued to climb the ladder in 2022. He put together a brilliant statistical season, catching 128 passes for 1,809 yards and 8 touchdown, and becoming the No. 1 receiver in the NFL.
The Vikings had a well-r0unded offense that featured star running back Dalvin Cook, newly acquired tight end T.J. Hockenson and Cousins. However, they struggled badly on defense, and that’s why they have not gotten any respect from NFL observers heading into the 2023 season.
Instead, the Detroit Lions are the favorites to win the NFC North title, with odds of +145, per VegasInsider. The Vikings are second choice at +310, but just barely ahead of the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.
Trades to consider
O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adof0-Mensah know that the Vikings have quite a bit of work to do and are not a finished product. As a result, trades are possible during training camp to turn weaknesses into strength.
In this piece, we look at players who could be traded before the start of the season. It is difficult to make trades at this point in the year because Minnesota’s Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is just around the corner, but if the team can improve in the short term by acquiring a talented player or the long term by gaining key draft picks, the trades can be executed.
Edge rusher Danielle Hunter
The Vikings had the 31st-ranked defense in the NFL last season as they regularly got overwhelmed by quality offensive opponents. They fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell at the end of the season because his scheme was “too vanilla,” and they hired aggressive defensive coordinator Brian Flores to put together a more effective unit.
All reports to this point in the year indicate the Vikings will be tougher to play against in 2023 than they were in previous years. However, do they have a player who can dominate?
The Vikings are hoping that player is Hunter. He has been the team’s best pass rusher for for years. He was one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in 2018 and ’19 with 14.5 sacks in each of those years before he went through back to back injury-plagued seasons in 2020 and ’21.
While he was healthy last year and had 10.5 sacks, he was not the same player. If the Vikings don’t believe Hunter can dominate any longer, they may be better off trading him.
The situation is complicated by a salary issue, as the 2023 season represents the final year of his contract. The situation is challenging for the Vikings.
Center Garrett Bradbury
The Vikings have been building a solid offensive line, and their biggest strengths appear to be Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill at left tackle and right tackle, respectively.
The interior part of the offensive line is not as strong as the two exterior blockers. Bradbury is a good player in the middle of the offensive line, but he is not dominant. While he has enough know-how and quickness, powerful defensive tackles and nose tackles are difficult for him to handle.
The Vikings know that battling the stronger defensive linemen will always be a struggle, and Adofo-Mensah may be looking to trade him during the summer.
There may not be that big a difference between Bradbury and backup center Austin Schlottman, and that could push the Vikings into trading Bradbury.
RB Kene Nwangwu
The Vikings parted company with Dalvin Cook in the offseason and that means Alexander Mattison is the No. 1 running back. Nwangwu is a sensational return specialist and should also get his share of carries as a running back.
While Nwangwu has the speed to provide a solid alternative to the hard-nosed Mattison, his ability as a returner could attract plenty of attention. If the Vikings could entice an opponent to deliver a functional defensive player, trading Nwangwu could make quite a bit of sense.
The post 3 potential trade candidates for the Vikings entering 2023 training camp appeared first on ClutchPoints.