8 Vikings (probably) heading into their final game with the franchise

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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Vikings No. 7 and No. 8

Harrison Smith - S

It feels like it's picked up some steam during the last few weeks, but there has been a significant amount of chatter about Vikings safety Harrison Smith calling it a career after this season.

Smith has been in the NFL for 12 years, and for just the second time in his career, he's on track to finish this season without at least one interception.

He also has the 34th-best defensive grade among qualifying safeties from PFF heading into Week 18. So he's likely to finish with a defensive grade that ranks 30th or worse for the second season in a row after finishing with a defensive grade that ranked between first and 14th from 2017 to 2021.

Also helping push Smith into the retirement home is the fact that Minnesota is probably going to ask him to take a pay cut if he wants to return for the 2024 season.

Currently, he's scheduled to have a cap hit of more than $19 million in 2024, which is the fourth-highest among all safeties in the league heading into the upcoming offseason.

If Smith is unwilling to take a pay cut, will he just retire, or will he want to continue his career with another team?

Kene Nwangwu - RB/KR

Heading into Week 18, the Vikings rank 27th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. So, the fact that Minnesota has been unwilling to give Kene Nwangwu more than the five rushing attempts he's had this season says all anyone needs to know when it comes to how the team feels about the running back.

Even when Nwangwu hasn't been a factor in the Vikings' offense in the past, he's been able to fall back on being an elite kick returner. However, he only ranks eighth in the NFL in yards per kick return among players with at least 10 returns this season, so even this area of his game hasn't been reliable either.

Nwangwu will be a free agent following the conclusion of Minnesoata's season, and betting on the team not bringing him back for the 2024 campaign is about as safe of a wager that one can make.