2018 record: 8-7-1 (2nd in division)
Head Coach: Mike Zimmer (6th year with team)
General Manager: Rick Spielman
Projected Salary Cap Space: $5.3 million
2019 Draft Picks: 1st (18), 2nd (50), 3rd (81), 4th (120), 6th (190, 209), 7th (247, 250)
2018 in review:
Year one of the Kirk Cousins age at quarterback simply didn’t go as planned for the Vikings, but It wasn’t necessarily his fault. After signing a monster three-year $84 million deal with the Vikings last year, Cousins posted career-best numbers in several categories including touchdown passes and completion percentage.
The Vikings also continue to boast one of the finest wide receiver tandems in the NFL with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. In 2018, the duo combined for 215 receptions, 2,394 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns through the air. The Vikings are in great shape with their air attack, and both wideouts are under contract through at least 2020.
Within the division, the Vikings posted a 3-2-1 record, including two convincing wins against the Lions. That included a Week 10 win in Minneapolis in which the Vikings sacked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford ten times. That defensive performance highlighted the Vikings’ perennially dangerous pass rush, which finished tied for third in the NFL with 50.0 sacks.
Where the Vikings failed to live up to expectations was on the ground. They finished third from the bottom in rushing yardage, and second year running back Dalvin Cook again struggled to stay on the field, missing five games.
The embattled offensive line also continued to underperform. This led to them surrendering 40 sacks as a team and finishing third from the bottom in total rushing yards.
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In free agency, the Vikings will be limited with their options to improve their roster. They are projected to have less than $5.3 million in cap space, ranking near the bottom of the league. So, they will be more reliant on the draft to help solve some of their roster deficiencies.
Continuing to try and fix the offensive line will surely be a priority in Minnesota, and recent mock drafts from Draftwire, WalterFootball and CBS Sports all have the Vikings addressing their offensive front in the opening round. It would behoove them to try and protect the man who received the most fully guaranteed money in NFL history in Cousins.
Keep an eye on Cook’s performance as well. The talented tailback obviously has had trouble staying on the field in his first two seasons, and thus hasn’t been able to offer the Vikings enough balance on offense to compliment their dangerous passing game. The Vikings will certainly be looking for some quality depth here, as soon to be free agent running back Latavius Murray hasn’t been happy with his backup role and seems likely to move on.
The Vikings have a very talented roster, with few holes. But after taking a step back in 2018, the pressure will be on head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman to field a team capable of winning it all in 2019, or changes could be afoot.