The Minnesota Vikings lost a skilled pool of veteran players in the NFL free agency this offseason. Some of those losses were due to their own decision, others left because re-signing would cost too much money. Here’s a list of top-notch Minnesota Vikings players the team will miss in 2020.
Top Minnesota Vikings Players Who Will Be Missed in 2020
Defensive End Everson Griffen
After 10 years with the Vikings, Everson Griffen will not return. While the move helped the team save significant money on the salary cap, there’s no doubt the defense will feel the pain. The longtime Vikings player was coming off an invigorating season where he racked up eight sacks and played with renewed energy.
There’s no immediate concern because the Vikes currently have one of the best in the league, Danielle Hunter, as their left defensive end and Ifeadi Odenigbo, who is coming off a seven sack breakout season.
But if those starters get hurt, fans will be wishing Griffen hadn’t left. If Hutner or Odenigbo go down, the Vikings pass rush could go down with them. Behind Hunter and Odenigbo, the Vikings defensive end depth chart is unsustainable. The veterans they have are Anthony Zettel and Eddie Yarbrough, both of whom haven’t been as productive. And the rookies, while talented, could be a year or two from producing the trust of coaches.
Cornerback Trae Waynes
Cornerback Trae Waynes has been a solid and steady piece for the Vikings secondary. Waynes has great speed and can outrun his opponents on deep throws. At times, Waynes was the team’s best cover corner by not letting his opponent outrun him and shutting them down completely.
The thunderous corner finished his career with 247 total tackles, one sack, seven interceptions, and 42 breakups.
Because Waynes started 52 games for the team and has been playing corner in head coach Mike Zimmer‘s system for five years, he knows the game and he knows it well. The Vikings won’t have Waynes’ experience and knowledge anymore on the field. He was able to help young defenders like Holton Hill and Mike Hughes get lined up properly.
The Vikings aren’t expecting to have that veteran leader this year with the same kind of experience Waynes had. But the Cincinnati Bengals will. The Bengals signed Waynes for three years and $42 million.
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander
It looks like the Vikings are set on a young pool of corners this year because nickel cornerback Mackensie Alexander is also moving on. And he’s joining Trae Waynes with the Bengals. Alexander progressed slowly and after his first couple of years, it seemed like another bust. But year three was when Alexander caught on and developed himself into an important asset for the team.
The cornerback had the ability to blitz, being one of the better blitzing cornerbacks in the league. In his last two seasons, he had 66 total tackles, eight tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, 15 pass breakups, and two interceptions. The 26-year-old still has a lot of good football years ahead of him.
The Vikings will miss having experienced cornerbacks like Alexander and Waynes. The Bengals signed Alexander to a $4 million deal for one year.
Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs
It wasn’t a surprise when star wide receiver Stefon Diggs got traded away to the Buffalo Bills. The disgruntled star made it clear he no longer wanted to be in Minnesota. But the team will long to see Diggs speedy and sticky hands this upcoming season.
Without a doubt, Diggs was extremely productive in Minnesota. He often provided the boost of energy the team needed when the offense was struggling to move the football. He also made plenty of explosive plays that led to victories.
The 26-year-old had perhaps his best season in 2019. He recorded 63 receptions for 1,130 yards (17.9 yards per catch) and six touchdowns in 15 games.
The Vikings did sign veteran wideout Tajae Sharpe and more importantly drafted LSU’s Justin Jefferson in this year’s NFL Draft. Those two will help alleviate the loss of Diggs’ performance, but year one could bring some struggles because it often takes rookie wide receivers some time to adjust to the velocity of the NFL game.
Guard Josh Kline
Vikings lost one of their key offensive lineman, Josh Kline. He signed with the Vikings last off-season, but with no agreement on a restructured contract, the team cut Kline loose. He’s currently a free agent.
Kline was their second-best offensive lineman a season ago. The Vikes will miss Kline in 2020, as he was mighty both in run blocking and in pass protection.
If either second-year players replace Kline and prove to be as ineffective as teammate Pat Elflein, quarterback Kirk Cousins should start training his legs more often, because he’ll need to run for his life all season long.