5 free agents the Vikings should aggressively pursue in 2023

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) Mecole Hardman
(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) Mecole Hardman /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports) Mecole Hardman /

Mecole Hardman – WR

Justin Jefferson’s phenomenal 2022 season is set to make him the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. Few would argue he isn’t worthy of such a lofty financial commitment based on his first three seasons with the Vikings.

What transpires around Jefferson in the wide receiver room is less certain. K.J. Osborn showed enough to suggest he can be a solid rotational piece once again in 2023, but veteran Adam Thielen’s future is murkier than ever for a multitude of reasons.

Cutting Thielen after June 1 represents a cap saving of $13.55 million. The wideout still has three years remaining on his deal, but the production no longer matches the cap hit, which is set at $19.96 million in 2023.

Should Thielen leave the Vikings this offseason, then finding an explosive presence to pair with Jefferson is an absolute must. Especially if Minnesota moves forward with Kirk Cousins as their starting quarterback, as anticipated.

Mecole Hardman was enjoying another impressive season before going down through injury. The speedy wideout is trying to get back to assist the Kansas City Chiefs in their Super Bowl quest, which indicates there are no lingering effects from the complication that’s kept him out since Week 9.

If Hardman makes it to the open market, the Vikings should explore the possibility. But there’s every chance the Chiefs attempt to retain the former Georgia star in pursuit of maintaining continuity.