The Super Bowl is in the rearview mirror, and every team in the NFL now has its sights set on 2018. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer have the Vikings well on their way through the offseason calendar, and they have plenty of experience building rosters, so they don't need any help from the rest of us.
But what the heck. For the sake of some discussion, here are a few ideas for a Vikings offseason to-do list.
1. Hire an offensive coordinator
The Vikings have been thorough in their search for someone to replace Pat Shurmur, who was named the New York Giants head coach a couple weeks ago. The League is full of talented young coaches primed for promotions to this role as well as experienced and eager coaches who've been coordinators previously. Which way will the Vikings go? We should find out within the next couple weeks. The good news is the 2018 offense has a great foundation thanks to marked improvement during 2017.
2. Make QB decisions
It's not clear right now what the Vikings quarterback depth chart will look like in 2018. The good news is there are a lot of options. The Vikings had three good ones play for them in 2017 – Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum – and there will be several good ones looking for work between this year's draft class and passers who will be available via free agency and trade. This decision is an important one because, well, it's the quarterback, and because the type and cost of the quarterback they chose will determine how the rest of the roster can be constructed.
3. Get ready for the offseason circuit
College all-star games have concluded, the NFL Scouting Combine is next and will be followed by the Annual League Meeting of NFL Owners, pro days at college campuses and free agency … the offseason circuit is now in full swing. The Vikings have plenty of experienced executives in their front office and a veteran coaching staff who all know this circuit well, so expect the organization to take full advantage of every event to find ways to improve for 2018.
4. Move into TCO Performance Center
The 2018 offseason will be one of transition for the Vikings as they watch the construction of their new practice facility – Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan – conclude and then move into the building as early as March. The new facility will provide state-of-the-art amenities for the football team, and it will put nearly everyone within the Vikings organization under one roof for the first time.
5. Re-sign soon-to-be free agents
Sometimes the best free agent signings are re-signings. Tom Johnson, Jerick McKinnon, Terence Newman and the three quarterbacks who took snaps in 2017 are examples of experienced and productive veterans scheduled to be free agents on March 14. The Vikings must evaluate their own roster and decide which players to retain before they can craft a plan to target free agents and draft picks.
6. Keep building the offensive line
Improving the offensive line was a top priority last offseason, and the Vikings hit the nail on the head with additions such as center Pat Elflein and tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. Don't be surprised to see the Vikings use both free agency and the draft this offseason to once again add depth and talent to the offensive line.
7. Fortify the defensive line
The Vikings have one of the best defensive lines in football. The way this group can take the next step is to also be one of the deepest groups in the league. Adding players and the continued development of youngsters such as Jaleel Johnson and Stephen Weatherly will be priorities for defensive line coaches Andre Patterson and Robert Rodriguez.
8. Get hyped about Dalvin Cook's rehab and return
The Vikings got just a little look at what Dalvin Cook can bring to their offense last season. And it looked good. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns before he was lost for the season in Week 4 to a knee injury. The silver lining is the injury occurred so early in the 2017 season that there's a chance he will be good to go for the start of 2018. Zimmer was optimistic about Cook's comeback during his end-of-season press conference back in January. Regardless of the specific timeline, it's appropriate for the Vikings to be excited about the return of Cook to an offense that averaged just shy of 24 points per game last season and improved its season rushing yards by more than 750 over 2016's total.