The Minnesota Vikings seem to be heading toward a significant rebuild, which could have implications for the dynamics of their rivalry against the Green Bay Packers.
One of the major potential moves is the Vikings’ expected decision to discard star running back Dalvin Cook. Several reasons have been suggested for this decision:
- Adapting to a New Coaching Style: Head coach Kevin O’Connell seems to be moving the Vikings closer to the blueprint of his previous employer, Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams. This implies focusing on a strong passing game and reducing reliance on a star running back.
- Development of Wide Receivers: The Vikings have started to develop a stronger receiving corps, which could make them less reliant on a star running back. Their star receiver, Justin Jefferson, along with Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn, and tight end T.J. Hockenson, is expected to be a strong force in the coming season.
- Running Back Rotation: The Vikings are likely to adopt a more cost-effective running back rotation, with Alexander Mattison as the lead back and other players such as Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler, and DeWayne McBride competing for snaps.
- Managing the Salary Cap: Minimizing investment in the running back position allows more funds to be allocated to other positions, which are seen as more critical in the modern NFL. This is particularly true in a salary-cap league like the NFL.
- Cook’s Performance Decline: Dalvin Cook’s performance has shown signs of decline. His rushing yards per game dropped from 111.2 in 2020 to 89.2 in 2021, and then to 69.0 in 2022.
The Vikings are also evaluating other potential moves. They have been clearing cap space this offseason by releasing or trading several players, including Eric Kendricks, Adam Thielen, and Za’Darius Smith. There are speculations that the team might be preparing to go all-in on rebuilding after the 2023 season.
What a Rebuild Means for the Packers
For the Packers, a rebuilding Vikings team might present both opportunities and challenges. On one hand, a Vikings team in transition could potentially be less competitive in the short term, which might give the Packers an edge in the NFC North. On the other hand, if the Vikings’ rebuilding strategy is successful, they might emerge as a stronger competitor in the long run.