One Big Mystery Remains for the 2023 Minnesota Vikings

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of a few notable exceptions, the Minnesota Vikings are largely healthy as we head into their Week 14 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Both Akayleb Evans and Justin Jefferson are set to return to the field for the Vikings this weekend, and T.J. Hockenson has been taken off the injury report, seemingly healthy from his lingering rib injury. However, there is one big mystery remaining with the Minnesota Vikings as it pertains to injuries.

One Big Mystery Remains with the 2023 Minnesota Vikings

One Big Mystery
Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) is pressured by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) and linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

That mystery is Marcus Davenport. The Vikings signed him as a potential replacement for Za’Darius Smith, who they traded to the Cleveland Browns a couple months after the signing.

It seemed like a sound strategy at the time. Davenport was a promising player who, despite a couple lackluster seasons in the NFL statistics-wise, had displayed a couple intriguing traits throughout his first five seasons.

However, things have not turned out as hoped during his sole season with the Minnesota Vikings. Davenport has appeared in just four games this season, and a high ankle sprain in Week 6 landed him on IR where he has been ever since.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass as Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) rush during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend will be the ninth game that Davenport has missed this season and the seventh consecutive. It’s been a long stretch without him, and even more daunting, there has been hardly a peep about his status from Minnesota’s coaching staff.

It often takes high ankle sprains multiple months to fully heal, but this injury could impact the potential of Davenport’s long-term status in Minnesota. This is just the latest example of an injury which has derailed his season.

Davenport played 15 games for the Saints last season, but he has missed at least three games in each of his other NFL seasons and has seen two other stints on IR during his career (2019, 2021).

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) pressures Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Davenport signed a one-year contract with the Vikings worth $13 million, but only $6.2 million of that money is counted against Minnesota’s salary cap in 2023. The remaining $6.8 million extends into 2024, per Over the Cap, meaning even if the Vikings do not bring the pass-rusher back this offseason, they will still have that money count against them.

Perhaps Davenport is able to come back down the stretch of the season and perform well. If that happens, it would be very logical for the Vikings to extend another contract offer for him.

However, if the injury keeps him sidelined, the offseason tussle between Davenport and the Vikings could be an interesting one to keep an eye on, especially considering Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum will also hit free agency. Yet another tough decision could await Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in just a couple short months.

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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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