After squandering a 5-0 start, the Vikings head into an especially uncertain offseason. The core of the squad that had Super Bowl hopes in September will remain intact, but the Vikings could say goodbye to a couple of franchise cornerstones and a few former first-round picks. They are set to have 19 free agents, seven of them Week 1 starters. So who will stay and who will go? Here is our early projection of which players from their final 53-man roster and lengthy injured-reserve list will be back to compete for roster spots in spring workouts and training camp.
Sam Bradford IN
Coach Mike Zimmer says he has earned the right to be the starter. Will the Vikings try to lock him up long term?
Teddy Bridgewater IN
Still has a long way to go in his recovery from a devastating knee injury and might not be cleared by Week 1.
Taylor Heinicke IN
Squandered a chance to become the top backup last summer but team liked him enough to keep him around.
Shaun Hill OUT
With the 36-year-old’s contract expiring, Vikings are expected to look for a younger, more capable backup.
Matt Asiata, RB IN
The all-around contributor should be back to battle for a roster spot despite short-yardage struggles in 2016.
C.J. Ham, RB IN
Duluth native earned a late-season promotion from the practice squad, ensuring he was under team control for 2017.
Zach Line, FB IN
Line, a FA, was steady when the Vikings used a fullback. Even if re-signed, he’ll likely have competition.
Jerick McKinnon, RB IN
Poor blocking was a big factor, but the athletic back failed to impress in 2016. He has one year left on his rookie deal.
Adrian Peterson, RB OUT
Another contract showdown looms. This time it seems unlikely they find middle ground with their aging superstar.
RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS
Stefon Diggs, WR IN
He has flashed star potential at times. Other times he has totally disappeared. Still, he is quite the bargain at $615K.
Rhett Ellison, TE IN
The veteran bounced back from a knee injury to reclaim blocking role in 2016. Team will look into bringing him back.
Isaac Fruechte, WR IN
After spending most of 2016 on the practice squad, the ex-Gopher was promoted last week, locking him in.
ø Charles Johnson, WR IN
Despite not contributing much in 2016 the restricted free agent can be retained for 2017 at an affordable price.
David Morgan, TE IN
The 2016 sixth-round pick could not steal many snaps away from Ellison but is an interesting prospect.
Kyle Rudolph, TE IN
He clicked with Bradford and finally established himself as a top receiving TE during his record-setting season.
Adam Thielen, WR IN
Vikings must properly tender the restricted FA or they run the risk of losing the local kid after his breakout year.
Laquon Treadwell, WR IN
One catch from a first-round pick? Yes, his rookie season was disappointing. But it’s too early to label him a bust.
cordarrelle Patterson, WR OUT
Patterson, still raw as a receiver but no doubt a playmaker, eyes Tavon Austin-type money (4 years, $42M).
Jarius Wright, WR OUT
Vikings can free up $1.5M in cap space by cutting Wright, who inexplicably was phased out of the offense in 2016.
Willie Beavers, G/T IN
2016 fourth-round pick couldn’t even make the team out of camp but should get another chance to prove his worth.
Joe Berger, C/G IN
Started 11 games at center, returned from injury and played three at guard. He’s under contract through 2017.
Alex Boone, G IN
Boone, their top FA add last offseason, was solid when in the lineup and provided needed leadership.
T.J. Clemmings, OT IN
He failed to show progress in his second season as an emergency starter and must fight to make the team.
Nick Easton, C IN
Vikings liked him enough to cut John Sullivan. Should get a chance to start after playing the last five games.
Rashod Hill, OT IN
Signed off Jacksonville’s practice squad midseason, Hill held his own in his first action in Week 17.
Matt Kalil, OT IN
Still want Kalil run out of town? He is not the best pass protector, but it makes sense to re-sign him to a prove-it deal.
Zac Kerin, C/G IN
Kerin, a seldom-used backup the past two years, is an exclusive rights FA. So if they want him, they got him.
Jeremiah Sirles, G/T IN
Sirles was probably miscast as a starting tackle, but his smarts and versatility at least make him a capable backup.
Brandon Fusco, G OUT
Has not been the same since tearing his pec in ’14, so team likely will move on, freeing up $3.2M in cap space.
Mike Harris, G/T OUT
Harris, a FA, still has not been cleared by Vikings doctors after spending all of 2016 on the non-football injury list.
Jake Long, OT OUT
Injuries at tackle forced the Vikings to gamble on Long, who survived four games before going on IR.
▲ Andre Smith, OT OUT
The injury-prone former Bengal made it through five games on his one-year, $3.5 million deal before going on IR.
B.J. Dubose, DE/DT IN
Like Crichton, Dubose spent all of 2016 on IR. The 2015 late-round pick has yet to play a snap in a non-exhibition.
Everson Griffen, DE IN
After racking up 30.5 sacks and two Pro Bowl nods in three seasons under Zimmer, he could be due for a new deal.
Danielle Hunter, DE IN
The 22-year-old led the Vikings with 12.5 sacks in his second season and figures to seize a starting role next season.
Toby Johnson, DT IN
He played sparingly after getting promoted from the practice squad in December. Showed flashes in camp.
Tom Johnson, DT IN
After recording only two sacks in 2016, Johnson will make $2.4M in the final year of his deal if he makes the team.
Linval Joseph, NT IN
Overlooked by Pro Bowl voters, he had another solid season in the middle. He still has two years left on his contract.
Brian Robison, DE IN
With Hunter poised to steal his starting gig, he probably will be asked to reduce his $6.6M cap number to stick around.
Shamar Stephen, NT IN
Forced into a regular role due to Floyd again being unavailable, Stephen tailed off after a solid start to the season.
Justin Trattou, DE IN
The special-teams regular could sign elsewhere as a free agent but would be welcomed back at the right price.
Stephen Weatherly, DE IN
Weatherly, a 2016 seventh-round pick, did not see much action as a rookie but could develop into a contributor.
Scott Crichton, DE/DT OUT
The 2014 third-rounder has not made an impact and only stuck in 2016 due to an injury. His time is seemingly up.
Sharrif Floyd, DT OUT
It would be surprising if Zimmer kept around the oft-injured former first-round pick at his $6.8M salary.
Anthony Barr, OLB IN
His invisibility was baffling after he was one of the NFL’s best outside ‘backers in ’15. He must be a difference-maker.
Kentrell Brothers, MLB IN
After being inactive for the first six games, the 2016 fifth-rounder carved out a role on special teams.
Audie Cole, MLB IN
Second on the squad in special-teams snaps and used sparingly on D, Cole will be a FA for a second straight year.
Eric Kendricks, MLB IN
He led the Vikings with 109 tackles in his second season. He could slide to Greenway’s spot if he indeed retires.
Emmanuel Lamur, OLB IN
He did not play much beyond special teams in his first year with team, but maybe Greenway’s exit creates a role.
Edmond Robinson, OLB IN
Another young LB the Vikings like, Robinson did not play much on D with Barr playing almost every snap.
Chad Greenway, OLB OUT
The fan favorite said before the season that this probably would be it for him and still seems likely to walk away.
Mackensie Alexander, CB IN
2016 second-rounder did not play much with four veterans ahead of him but could start in the slot next season.
Antone Exum, S IN
Athletic but inconsistent, he likely will get his last chance to convince coaches that he can be taken seriously.
Anthony Harris, S IN
He was exposed e when given a chance to start in December but no one played more special team snaps.
Jayron Kearse, S IN
The oversized safety stood out in camp and the preseason but failed to carry that into the regular season.
Terence Newman, CB IN
Newman declined to discuss his future this week but he showed in 2016 that he is still capable of getting it done.
Jabari Price, CB IN
Heading into his fourth year, he could push Alexander for playing time in the slot if Munnerlyn is not re-signed.
Xavier Rhodes, CB IN
After making his first Pro Bowl in 2016, Rhodes, in the final year of his rookie deal, is first in line for a big extension.
Andrew Sendejo, S IN
Solid in 2016 after a shaky 2015 season, Sendejo will be back for 2017, though another Royal Rumble at safety looms.
Marcus Sherels, CB IN
One of the NFL’s top punt returners and a valuable Vikings gunner, he will be in the final year of his two-year deal.
Harrison Smith, S IN
His play dipped in 2016 after he got his massive payday, but expect Smith, one of the NFL’s top safeties, to bounce back.
Trae Waynes, CB IN
The 2015 first-round pick took a step forward in Year 2, making eight starts and not allowing many big plays.
ø Captain Munnerlyn, CB OUT
Solid in the slot with 80 career starts, Munnerlyn figures to cash in elsewhere in free agency.
Kai Forbath, K IN
Stabilized the position after Blair Walsh finally got the boot and will enter OTAs as the favorite over Marshall Koehn.
Jeff Locke, P IN
After regressing in two years at TCF, Locke had his best season in ’16, giving the team a reason to re-sign him.
Kevin McDermott, LS IN
This is the first time his name has been printed in months, which tells you the guy is getting it done.