With rumors of a full roster purge circulating and a team salary pushing the limits of the salary cap, it was almost certain that the 2020 version of the Vikings would look a lot different than last year's squad. It took just one week of free agency to confirm those thoughts.
Several key cogs in the defense have left while others have been sent packing due. While there's still a large portion of the offseason left, it's a good time to look at what has changed and what it could mean in the future during a pivotal offseason in Minnesota.
The Vikings are entering a youth movement
The words rebuild and reload have been tossed around on Twitter when describing the Vikings and for good reason. After the trade that sent Stefon Diggs to Buffalo, the Vikings have 13 picks in this year's NFL Draft – the second-most selections behind the Miami Dolphins.
It remains to be seen if the Vikings will use all 13 picks or use some in leverage for a potential trade. Both would be quality decisions as this year's class is loaded at the Vikings' three biggest areas of need: wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback.
Mix in the acquisition of free agent nose tackle Michael Pierce and it's almost certain that this team will be a lot younger in 2020.
The Viking offense will still revolve around the run
Even with the departure of offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, Zimmer has preached continuity to help Kirk Cousins reach another level to get the Vikings over the hump. Promoting Gary Kubiak to offensive coordinator was a start, but the Vikings quickly doubled down in free agency.
The Vikings gave Cousins a contract extension that locked him up until 2023. Then they gave $12 million to their fullback C.J. Ham before sending Diggs off to Buffalo.
With the news that Danielle Hunter renegotiated his contract this week, it wouldn't be shocking to see the Vikings sign Dalvin Cook to a lucrative extension to drive the point home.
Dru Samia is ready for an opportunity to start
In Zimmer's end of season press conference, he mentioned that there were several offensive linemen that didn't see the field, but improved as the 2019 season went along. A general assumption was one of those players was Samia and after cutting starting guard Josh Kline, it looks like he's ready for his NFL close up.
Samia was a fourth-round pick for the Vikings out of Oklahoma and was praised as a perfect fit for their zone-running scheme. Although Kline was decent at right guard, he reportedly refused to take a pay cut, leaving the Vikings with nearly $4 million in dead money.
For a team in a salary crunch, that's a significant number. But that's also an endorsement for Samia. If the second-year guard has a handle on the offense, the Vikings may have an upgrade on last year's line in their own back yard.
The Vikings are probably drafting a first-round corner
After releasing Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings saw Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander walk out the door, leaving them with Mike Hughes, Holton Hill and Kris Boyd on the roster.
That alone should scream that Zimmer will jump at the first cornerback he sees on the board, but in this draft, it's not exactly a bad thing.
Although Jeffrey Okudah could go in the top five, the Vikings should have a slew of big, fast and physical corners to choose from. Florida's C.J. Henderson or TCU's Jeff Gladney should be at the top of their list, but the Vikings could also double up and hope for LSU's Kristian Fulton or get another quality corner in the second round.
The tendency for Zimmer to select corners early in drafts has almost become a meme, but in their current situation, it may be the right thing to do.
Zimmer runs the show in Minnesota
Over the past year, there seems to have been signs of discontent with some players in the locker room. Diggs had his trade drama. Alexander seemed to be upset with having to play in a meaningless Week 17 game. Coaches seemed to want a bigger role and left. The seeds of chaos were being planted.
But a lot of the players who appeared to have some level of rift with Zimmer (Diggs, Alexander, Jayron Kearse) have been eliminated and the head coach is the last one standing.
Perhaps Zimmer's vision of how his team is run screams "Old Man Yells at Cloud," but it's the way he's going to do it. With a run first-team and a defense that needs to be rebuilt on the fly, Zimmer's word is the law. It just remains to be seen if it will translate into a successful offseason.