It's been a long off-season for Minnesota Vikings fans, with a disappointing 2021 season giving way to big changes and renewed optimism for 2022. As part of our preview of the 2022 Vikings, let's look back at all that has happened to the team this season happened and how we got here.
It's a new day, yeah
Vikings ownership relieved head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman a day after the season ended with a win over the Chicago Bears in the U.S. Bank Stadium. NFL London fans to buy NFL London Tickets from our website.
Spielman has been with the team in some capacity since 2006, while Zimmer was the team's head coach for eight seasons - the third longest coach in franchise history. The Wolfs felt that changes needed to be made and implemented immediately.
On January 26, after an extensive search, the Vikings hired former Cleveland Browns assistant general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their new general manager.
Adofo-Mensah is now one of the youngest general managers in the NFL, and perhaps more importantly, has a more analytical background having worked in business before starting his NFL career. He should take a radically different approach to how the Vikings are building their future roster.
Searching for a coach involves a bit of drama. After a public flirtation with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, Harbaugh has officially decided to return to Ann Arbor, as the job seems to be his duty. With Harbaugh out, the Vikings turned to Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell to become the 10th head coach in franchise history.
The Vikings are hoping O'Connell quarterback Kirk Cousins can "unlock" and take the offence to the next level after eight seasons under the defensive Zimmer.
O'Connell enlisted tight-knit coach Wes Phillips—Bum's grandson and Wade's son—to join him as the team's offensive coordinator while hiring longtime defensive coach Ed Donatell to work with him.
Come and go
While free agency is expected to be relatively quiet for the Vikings, the team has made significant strides in the free agency pool. Their first off-season signing was former Buffalo Bills nose tackle, Harrison Phillips. Phillips will work with Dalvin Tomlinson to fortify the Vikings' porous defences.
They also took steps to help with their pass rush, signing former Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Zadarius Smith to a three-year deal. Smith, who played only one game in 2021 due to injury, originally signed with the Baltimore Ravens but changed his mind and moved to Minnesota. NFL London Vikings vs Saints fans to buy Vikings Vs Saints Tickets from our website.
If he can stay healthy, he will team up with Danielle Hunter to bring warmth from the outside into the Vikings' new 3-4 formation.
Other notable additions to the Vikings in free agency include linebacker Jordan Hicks of the Arizona Cardinals, cornerback Chandon Sullivan of Green Bay and tight end O'Connell of the Rams Striker Johnny Mundt.
The Vikings also have some key departure points for free agents. The team released nose gear Michael Pierce, who was having trouble staying healthy for the Vikings. After signing a three-year contract with the Vikings in March 2020, Pierce played just eight games for the Vikings after opting out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and sustaining numerous injuries in the 2021 game.
The team also said goodbye to longtime linebacker Anthony Barr, who signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys. The #1 overall pick of the Mike Zimmer era, Barr spent eight seasons in Minnesota but has fallen slightly in recent seasons.
Other departures from the team include offensive lineman Mason Cole, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and tight end Tyler Conklin, who signed a major contract with the New York Jets after a strong season in 2021 to help the injured Irving Jr. Smith to replace.
Feel a draft
The 2022 NFL draw is a very eventful one for Adofo-Mensah, who will host the show alone for the first time. He did what many thoughts was an odd move early in the game when he traded with Vikings' rival Detroit Lions, losing 20 places in the first round. The Lions selected Alabama wide receiver, Jameson Williams, with the 12th overall pick, while the Vikings chose Georgia safety Lewis Cine in the first round of the final draft.
Adofo-Mensah then struck another deal with another division rival, this time with Green Bay, involving one of their Detroit picks to fall again.
Green Bay selected North Dakota wide receiver, Christian Watson, with the #34 pick, while the Vikings later picked Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. in the second round selected.
Here's a quick look at the off-season for the Minnesota Vikings. In the second part of our preview, we look at how we expect all of these changes to affect the Vikings in 2022 and make predictions for the team's final record for the season.
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