The Minnesota Vikings are a long-suffering franchise. They have made it to four Super Bowls since their first season in 1961 and lost them all, they have had more heartbreaking playoff losses than most teams too. In 2017 the “Minneapolis Miracle” which dispatched the New Orleans Saints seemed to break the trend for the Vikings, but they came back the next week with a hugely disappointing 38-7 defeat in the NFC championship game.
They came into the 2018 season having handed a huge free agent contract to quarterback Kirk Cousins expecting it to be their year at last. Instead, the Vikings fell from 13 wins to 8 and missed the playoffs entirely.
In Madden 19 you have a chance to replay the 2018 season with Franchise Mode. The Vikings have just an 81 overall rating. This is made up of an 81 offense and an 87 defense. That defensive rating is one of the best in the game, but the offensive rating is pretty poor. This is a good indicator of where you will need to build the roster, but there aren’t endless resources to spend. Let’s start by taking a look at the salary cap situation.
Minnesota Vikings Salary Cap
The Vikings start Franchise Mode with 59 players on the roster and just $10.1 million in cap space. That is a tiny amount of cap room, but there aren’t many places you can spend it immediately so you shouldn’t make too many cuts for financial reasons.
There are 22 players that can be cut without suffering any cap penalty, and cutting down to a 53 man roster for the regular season should help open up another $1-2 million. There are some big contracts coming off the books after the season which will open up some cap space, but you will have to make a few hard decisions to create some cap flexibility.
Minnesota Vikings Impending Free Agents
The Vikings have 19 players entering the final year of their contract. Among these players there are plenty of players that can be let go without a worry, but there are one or two that will leave a big hole if you allow them to leave.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is the best impending free agent on the Vikings roster. There is very little talent behind him on the depth chart, but he is an expensive player and with their limited cap space it would be more financially responsible to replace Richardson with a mid-round draftee or a cheap veteran. You’ll lose some penetration and production but it will leave you with money to invest elsewhere.
The place you should invest that money is in outside linebacker Anthony Barr. At 26 Barr is hitting the prime of his career and he is a well-balanced player against both the run and the pass and is a good athlete at the position as well. Re-signing him may not be cheap, but it should be done as he is a vital cog to the Vikings defense and an impressive player on Madden 19.
After re-signing Barr you won’t have much cap space left at all, but that’s not a bad thing. Players like running back Latavius Murray can be allowed to walk, which will free up nearly $4 million in cap space, as can Ameer Abdullah which will free another $1 million.
Other key impending free agents: Matt Wile (P), Dan Bailey (K), Anthony Harris (FS), George Iloka (FS)
Minnesota Vikings Roster Needs
The Vikings are pretty set at places like quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. Kirk Cousins has enough talent to take a team to the Super Bowl in Madden 19, and the skill position players of Dalvin Cook, Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs can give any defense fits. The problem area offensively for the Vikings is the offensive line.
This unit has been a liability for a while and as you can see from the team needs Madden 19 agrees that you should be investing heavily along the offensive line. Any spare cap space and your first draft pick should be put into bringing the line up to scratch.
Defensively the Vikings are very strong. The likes of Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen give you a big pass rush while Eric Kendricks is a strong middle linebacker. The cornerback position has good depth and the safety pairing is impressive as well. This means that you can throw most of your resources after season 1 at improving the offensive line and really pushing the team on. You shouldn’t ignore the defense entirely, and if you spot a quality player early in the draft then you should absolutely go for them, but otherwise you will need to find guards and tackles in the draft and push improvements all over the offensive line.
The Vikings have the quality to challenge for a Super Bowl in season 1, but maintaining their level of performance will be hard. They have a lot invested in a few players and with blocking issues in season 1 the injury risk to Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook is pretty high. Losing one of them will really hamper your performance so take care not to hold the ball for too long in the pocket. If you can improve your blocking in the offseason then season 2 should be the start of your true Super Bowl window, how long that lasts will be up to you.