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Lunchbreak: ESPN & The Athletic Evaluate Vikings After 1st Wave of Free Agency

The Vikings have added and retained a number of key players to their roster over the first week of NFL free agency.

While it's possible more signings could be down the pipeline, ESPN's Kevin Seifert looked at Minnesota's progress thus far and opined on its "biggest roster hole" at this point. He wrote:

Although [cornerback Byron] Murphy [Jr.] is a likely starter at cornerback, the Vikings still have a big hole at the position. They released 2022 starter Cameron Dantzler [Sr.], bid farewell to [Patrick] Peterson and haven't re-signed either Chandon Sullivan or Duke Shelley. Even if 2022 draft picks Andrew Booth, Jr., and Akayleb Evans recover from a series of injuries, this group probably needs reinforcements in the draft.

Seifert said that although the Vikings "knew they weren't going to have a ton of cap space to work with," they made smart moves that helped improve their team headed into the 2023 season.

He also noted Minnesota's quarterback situation and speculated on what the future might hold for the Vikings at that position because Kirk Cousins is entering the final season of his current deal. The Vikings and Cousins worked to lower the cap hit on Cousins' contract.

While it's impossible to know for sure what the Vikings quarterback room will look like moving forward, Minnesota's rival appears to be moving on from its quarterback this season.

ESPN's Rob Demovsky said that should the Packers and Jets complete a trade to send Aaron Rodgers to New York, Green Bay's biggest roster hole won't be at QB but at receiver. After all, Jordan Love will need someone to throw to.

With [Allen] Lazard and [Robert] Tonyan gone, the Packers lost a combined 113 catches for 1,258 yards and eight touchdowns from last season. Throw in receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Marcedes Lewis, who won't be re-signed, and 42.3 [percent] of last season's receptions, 44.8 [percent] of last season's receiving yards and 40.7 [percent] of last season's touchdown catches are out the door.

The Athletic offers Vikings observations following 1st wave of free agency

Alec Lewis of The Athletic recently shared a handful of thoughts and observations related to the Vikings and the upcoming NFL Draft.

Lewis took into consideration Minnesota's action in the first wave of free agency, which included parting ways with defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who signed with the Browns. Lewis wrote:

Tomlinson was not an elite interior pass rusher, but his exit leaves a void. Harrison Phillips, Khyiris Tonga and recent signing Dean Lowry are all capable of clogging gaps, especially on early downs against the run. And edge rushers on the roster — including Za'Darius Smith — have the versatility to apply pressure on the interior.

Still, the Vikings present and future defenses would benefit from a wrecking ball like Tomlinson in the middle.

Think Christian Wilkins, whom Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores selected with Miami at No. 13 in the 2019 draft. Or Daron Payne, whom the Commanders snagged at No. 13 the year before. Dexter Lawrence was a top-20 pick. Quinnen Williams was a top-five pick.

In other words, the Vikings choices at No. 23 might be limited.

Two prospects Lewis mentioned were Calijah Kancey out of Pittsburgh and Bryan Bresee from Clemson.

Lewis also joined Seifert in weighing in on various scenarios for Minnesota at quarterback.

The Vikings may have restructured Cousins' contract, but they did not extend him. Until that happens, this is a conversation worth having.

The available players in the early portion of this draft are likely to dictate Minnesota's decision-making. As [Vikings General Manager Kwesi] Adofo-Mensah said in Indianapolis, "You don't want to just be firing random darts at a quarterback, especially with someone like [Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell] who knows that relationship and how important it is."