The bad news for the Minnesota Vikings is that they’re off to an 0-3 start after finishing as NFC North champions last season. The good news is that there is plenty of football left to play, and that’s what star receiver Justin Jefferson has on his mind.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Jefferson emphasized that there are still 14 games to go and no one should be talking about the future of the roster this early into the season.
“At the end of the day it’s not going to be perfect every time,” said Jefferson, via ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert. “There’s things that you’ve got to go through throughout the season to really tell if you’re going to be a great team or not. We’re handling adversity early in the season with the turnovers and being 0-3, but there is a whole bunch of more games to go.”
The 0-3 start isn’t ideal and has led to questions about what should be done to not only salvage this season but 2024 and beyond. So when general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah labeled the state of the team as one in a “competitive rebuild” in March, it’s hard not to wonder what potential moves should be made to ensure the product on the field is, indeed, competitive.
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Quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has a no-trade clause, will see his contract void after this season. Edge rusher Danielle Hunter, who leads the team with five sacks, can also become a free agent after in the offseason. Jefferson, who leads the NFL with 458 receiving yards, is under contract for two more years.
“I’m tired of people saying that we’re looking into next season or all of the trades and stuff like that,” Jefferson added. “We’re focused still on this season. We have a lot more games to go and we have a lot more things to accomplish this season. We’re still focused in, and we still have the same goal as we had before the season. We just need to fix a few things and I feel like we’ll be back on track.”
The luck hasn’t been there for the Vikings this season. They were 11-0 in one-score games in 2022 and their three defeats in 2023 have been by three, six, and four points, respectively. They’ve committed a league-high nine turnovers and are a bottom-10 team in points allowed per game (27.3) and total yards allowed per game (382.3).
There are five games until the Oct. 31 NFL trade deadline on the Vikings schedule. That’s a good opportunity to start moving forward instead of backward. But with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers in two of their next four games, the hole could get even deeper very soon. According to the NFL, only six teams have ever made the playoffs after starting 0-3. Only one, the 1992 San Diego Chargers, reached the postseason after starting 0-4.
How far off is Adofo-Mensah from having to start contemplating tough decisions about the Vikings’ future?