For months, the video displays within the Vikings’ follow facility had displayed gamers’ each day schedule: weightlifting and restoration classes, workforce conferences, walk-throughs, practices. On Monday, the each day agenda was gone, changed solely by the “Our workforce, our method, our course of” defend graphic coach Kevin O’Connell commissioned earlier than his first season.
The lights within the Vikings’ indoor fieldhouse had been a little bit dimmer than regular, the halls eerily quiet as gamers exited workforce conferences and departed to start their offseasons. Lower than 24 hours earlier, they’d kicked off their second-ever residence playoff recreation at US Financial institution Stadium with noise ranges eclipsing 120 decibels. Their 31-24 loss to the Giants, although, ended all their plans and stilled their pleasure.
O’Connell reminded gamers in an exit assembly of all of the 2022 Vikings completed: Changing into the third workforce in franchise historical past to win 13 video games within the common season, claiming the workforce’s first NFC North title since 2017 and setting an NFL file with 11 one- rating wins. However an unsure offseason lies forward, with 4 defensive starters from Sunday’s recreation set to hit free company and a handful of franchise fixtures probably in line to depart.
The Vikings’ ultimate process of the 2022 season, then, was to say some goodbyes and hold each shocking achievements and a sudden exit in perspective.
“You possibly can name it a great season. I would not name it successful,” extensive receiver Justin Jefferson mentioned. “All people needs to get to the Tremendous Bowl. That is the success of the season. You possibly can say you had a great run on the Tremendous Bowl and the place you needed to go and the place the longer term may deliver you. That is not precisely what we needed, however it’s positively good to look again on that and seeing the nice issues out of it.”
Jefferson, who has a great likelihood at NFL Offensive Participant of the 12 months honors after main the league in catches (128) and receiving yards (1,809), is also one of many Vikings’ greatest offseason tales. He’s eligible to obtain a contract extension earlier than his fourth season and will command a deal price greater than $30 million per season.
He mentioned Monday the contract dialogue “comes with the success,” including, “They pay me no matter they pay me. They do not even actually have to provide me an extension this yr. It is not likely one thing I am frightened about.
“I wish to win a Tremendous Bowl. That is the factor I am most targeted on.”
By the point Jefferson returns for his fourth season, the Vikings’ roster may undergo numerous adjustments. They may must clear practically $20 million in cap area earlier than the beginning of the 2023 league yr in March, which means gamers comparable to linebacker Eric Kendricks and operating again Dalvin Prepare dinner may very well be launched or requested to restructure their contracts by then.
Kendricks mentioned Monday he is “not even interested by that proper now” when requested about his future in Minnesota, whereas Prepare dinner mentioned, “It’s important to speak to [General Manager] Kwesi [Adofo-Mensah] and ‘KO’ [O’Connell] about that. That is not my kind of query.”
“You possibly can name it a great season. I would not name it successful. All people needs to get to the Tremendous Bowl. That is the success of the season.”
Gamers talked all through the season about what number of shut relationships that they had, saying a playoff loss would sting extra as a result of it could imply inevitable adjustments to the locker room. These adjustments are a actuality of the sport’s enterprise facet, mentioned linebacker Jordan Hicks, who made the Vikings his third completely different workforce this season. These adjustments appear nearer than ever now that the 2022 Vikings have performed their ultimate recreation.
“You create bonds, you create relationships that basically outlast wins and losses,” Hicks mentioned. “After we’re on our method, we’ll be capable to look again on these recollections and see all that we completed collectively.”
In three months, the gamers who stay from the 2022 roster shall be again on the town to start O’Connell’s second season, attempting for one thing resembling continuity.
“There is a basis constructed right here,” Hicks mentioned. “As we transfer ahead, it is concerning the requirements that we maintain to proceed the method we had.”