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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Wilf, Vikes eye playoff contention amid QB change

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Minnesota Vikings‘ looming quarterback transition and apparent long-range plan has excited fans and added an entertaining level of mystery to their football operations. It has not, however, changed ownership’s expectations for the team’s short-term competitiveness.

Speaking for the first time since the Vikings finished their 2023 season with a 7-10 record, their fewest wins in a season since 2013, owner/president Mark Wilf made clear that his family still thinks the team should build for the future while winning in the present. He acknowledged that injuries played a role in last season’s record but said that his family is “not going to rest on that.”

“We want to win every single game and every step along the way,” Wilf said. “So how that falls, what will happen on the field, we’ll see. It’s important our fans to know that that’s always our commitment and that’s how we approach it. At the same time, we believe the way we’re building this is going to get to sustained success. We’re, like our fans, not pleased with our record last year. We want to be competing for playoffs, championships, division titles and Super Bowl championships, all of the above.”

The Vikings made quarterback Kirk Cousins what Wilf called a “serious offer” to remain with the team in 2024, but the Atlanta Falcons won the bidding by fully guaranteeing the first two years of their offer. The Vikings replaced Cousins with free agent Sam Darnold and are hoping to draft their quarterback of the future next month.

Asked what made him believe the Vikings could win and compete for a playoff spot amid that transition, Wilf said: “I think it can happen. I believe it can happen. I believe it has happened in other organizations as well, and that’s what we think can happen.”

Wilf later added that his family has always tried to think “long-term and not to be knee-jerk” and said: “We try to be patient as owners the best we can within a very competitive environment.”

Cousins missed eight games last season because of a ruptured Achilles, and receiver Justin Jefferson missed seven because of a hamstring injury. Injuries on defense also played a role in the Vikings losing six of their final seven games.

“That’s part of the game,” Wilf said. “That’s something you have to be prepared for and I think [general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell] will be the first to tell you they take that on themselves. And I think frankly, [there is] some optimism for this coming season. I think a lot of young players got some significant playing time last year, so we’re expecting a nice rise on that front. If it was an exact and easy science, we wouldn’t have 32 teams vying like we do.”

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