The 2022 NFL offseason is here.
And the Vikings are excited about their future, especially now that Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell are officially on board in crucial roles.
There are some noteworthy events on the horizon, as the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft are all on the docket in the next 10 weeks.
With that in mind, here's a look at where the Vikings rank early in the 2022 offseason:
No. 17: Dan Hanzus – NFL.com
Is Kirk Cousins The Guy or Just A Guy? It's the question teams have been trying to answer for a decade now ... and that eternal query has been passed down to new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell. Keeping Cousins goes beyond his play on the field. The quarterback is entering the final year of his contract and carries an enormous cap hit for a team that is currently projected to be millions of dollars over the salary cap. If an outside team was hot for Cousins, the Vikings might decide a trade is best for the franchise, even if it makes them worse in the short term.
No. 23: Courtney Cronin – ESPN
With a better picture of their leadership structure in place with General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the Vikings must decide what they're going to do at quarterback for 2022. Kirk Cousins enters the final year of his contract — which comes with a $45 million cap hit — and Minnesota needs to clear $13 million-14 million in cap space before the start of the league year. The Vikings should approach this one year at a time, and if they find a trade partner that is willing to not leave them footing an exorbitant amount to get Cousins off the roster, they should explore those options. The new coaching staff should get a year to determine whether Cousins fits into their plans.
No. 14: Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News
Put Kevin O'Connell on the early watch list for Coach of the Year because he will do wonders with Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Irv Smith, Jr., and others behind a rising offensive line. The defense needs an overhaul but it can turn into a better complementary unit in cleaning up some age issues.
View photos of new Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell in photos from his time with the Rams.
No. 21: Christian D'Andrea – USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings were never truly bad nor ever truly contenders — the Minneapolis Miracle notwithstanding — under Mike Zimmer. Now they face another difficult offseason in which a roster loaded with star power is tasked with overcoming mediocre results on the field. Minnesota will have to focus its cash-strapped efforts on rebuilding a defense that fell from 27th to 30th in yards allowed between 2020 and 2021. The club will also have to figure out what to do with Kirk Cousins, who is entering the final year of 2020's two-year contract extension and has proven only capable of putting up great performances in ultimately meaningless seasons (103.5 passer rating, one playoff berth in four years with the Vikings).
No. 19: Nick Goss – Yahoo! Sports/NBC Sports
Veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins is about to enter the final year of his contract. The Vikings had a pretty good offense in 2021, with Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Justin Jefferson forming one of the best trios in the league. If Minnesota can improve defensively, making the playoffs in 2022 will be a very realistic goal.
View the best quarterback photos from the 2021 season shot by Vikings photographers.
No. 23: MMQB Staff – Sports Illustrated
The Mike Zimmer era is over, putting the Vikings on a long list of teams looking at an upcoming transition. But with Kirk Cousins' contract making it likely he'll return, this team may be a year away from looking more drastically different.
No. 18: Staff – Bleacher Report
The times they are-a-changing in the Twin Cities.
After eight seasons as the team's head coach, Mike Zimmer was sent packing. The Vikings were the last team to fill their vacancy, eventually settling on a philosophy shift by hiring Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell.
O'Connell inherits a fair amount of talent on that side of the ball. Dalvin Cook is a top-10 (if not top-five) running back. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are one of the league's more formidable one-two punches at wideout. And Minnesota's offensive line showed some improvement in 2021 with the addition of rookie Christian Darrisaw.
That leaves the big question — what to do about Kirk Cousins?
Even if Cousins does stick around (and recent reports indicate he will), Minnesota has to do something about his $45 million cap hit — a hit that leaves Minnesota over $15 million over the projected salary cap for 2022.
No. 21: Dalton Miller – Pro Football Network
The Vikings are in a precarious position heading into 2022. The Lions and Bears aren't competitors yet, and the Packers' future is on hold awaiting a decision from Aaron Rodgers.
Meanwhile, the Vikings are under new management. They hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager and Kevin O'Connell as their next head coach. The team isn't talented enough to truly compete for a championship, but if Rodgers walks, there isn't much keeping Minnesota from the playoffs.
They're also dangerously over the cap, which could be managed through a Kirk Cousins restructure. But the staff would need to want him around past 2022 for that to make sense. Until there's more clarity, it's difficult to have Minnesota any higher in the NFL Power Rankings.