4 players the Minnesota Vikings were right to move on from in 2024

Houston Texans DE Danielle Hunter
Houston Texans DE Danielle Hunter / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

It’s been an exciting offseason for the Minnesota Vikings as they’ve added several players who can be the future of their franchise. But to add players, the Vikings needed to let some players go, which can be a delicate exercise for any general manager.

While some moves can be more haunting than others, there are some players that have run the course with their team.

With several players signing elsewhere in free agency, there were a few that the Vikings were right to move on from and should help them get to where they want to go in 2024 and beyond.

Players the Minnesota Vikings were right to move on from in 2024

Dalton Risner - OG

Dalton Risner’s name continues to be fresh in the minds of Vikings fans. Before his arrival in September, the interior of the offensive line was in shambles as Ed Ingram, Ezra Cleveland, and Garrett Bradbury were struggling to fend off defensive linemen during an 0-2 start.

But while Risner performed well after overtaking Cleveland for the left guard spot, there were some deficiencies that hurt the offensive line. Risner is known as a solid pass protector but his 6.1 percent pressure rate wasn’t that far off from the much-maligned Ingram, who posted a 6.5 percent pressure rate last season.

Risner also struggled to spring the running game 104th out of 135 qualifying guards with a 50.0 run-blocking grade, according to PFF.

This, combined with Risner’s desire for a starter’s level contract, make it wise for the Vikings to move on and hope that either Blake Brandel is an upgrade or they can take a big-money swing on a free agent next spring.

Danielle Hunter - EDGE

Some may think it’s crazy to get rid of the best pass-rusher on a team that struggled to get to the quarterback, but Danielle Hunter’s sack total was fool’s gold for Brian Flores’s defense.

Hunter had a big year with 16.5 sacks and was responsible for 27 percent of the Vikings quarterback pressures last season. With Hunter taking up such a big chunk of the pie, teams were able to load up to stop him, and nobody else could take advantage.

That might not have been a problem for Hunter, who signed a two-year, $48 million contract with the Houston Texans, but it was an issue for Flores, who wants to deploy players throughout the scheme. With Hunter’s best work coming as a pure edge rusher, the Vikings invested in more versatile pieces, signing Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel in free agency and trading up for Dallas Turner in the draft.

It would have been nice for Hunter to continue to be part of the Vikings' defense, but with his cost, it was wise to look elsewhere.

K.J. Obsorn - WR

The Vikings have been searching for a third receiver since Jarius Wright left Minneapolis, and K.J. Osborn was the first player to provide some hope. But despite some big moments, Osborn never lived up to the hype and signed with the New England Patriots during free agency.

Osborn always felt like he was a key part of the offense but his production never validated his role. While Osborn had nearly identical stats during the 2021 and 2022 seasons, he tailed off to catch just 48 passes for 540 yards and three touchdowns even with Justin Jefferson missing half the year with a hamstring injury.

Osborn’s departure will hurt a little bit, as he did a lot of the dirty work that made Kevin O’Connell’s offense work. But he wasn’t a key component that deserved the one-year, $4 million contract he signed in free agency.

Kirk Cousins - QB

The future of Kirk Cousins in Minnesota was the biggest storyline heading into the offseason, and his departure may have begun a new era of Vikings football. Cousins was consistent, throwing for over 4,000 yards four times and throwing 30 or more touchdowns three times during his six seasons in Minnesota, but his time had run its course.

With the Vikings looking to rebuild a significant chunk of their roster, they balked at the massive price it would take to keep Cousins and used that money to invest in weak spots while pursuing a rookie quarterback salary window.

Just like the other names on this list, you can make the case as to why Cousins deserved to stay in Minnesota. But the cost wasn’t worth keeping him around and allowed the Vikings to move ahead with J.J. McCarthy.

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