The Minnesota Vikings made a long-awaited move to upgrade the guard position, signing Dalton Risner to a one-year deal that can reach $4 million and has $2.5 million guaranteed. The former Denver Broncos guard figures to immediately slot into a depth role, giving him time to learn and acclimate to the offense before challenging any incumbents for a starting role.
However, fans should expect to see Risner on the field for Minnesota sooner than later. He will likely replace Ed Ingram, the embattled starting guard. Risner finished with a 72.6 PFF pass-blocking grade in 2022, 30 points higher than Ingram’s 42.6 grade. Risner is also a solid run-blocker, amassing a 53.4 run-block grade, a slight dip from Ingram’s 57.0.
Signing a starting-caliber guard in late September is a savvy move from the front office. At a minimum, Risner provides a significant upgrade over any of Minnesota’s other depth players.
Immediately, Risner showed his charisma. He impressed and won over media members and fans in his interview with his honest and outgoing demeanor.
Risner had interest from several teams across the NFL and reportedly (per himself) was poised to sign with a different team before the Vikings pounced.
Risner has the positional versatility and willingness to line up wherever the Vikings ask him to. When a reporter asked if he had a positional preference during his introductory interview with the team, Risner said:
Zero. Right now, man, I was just out there helping the 1 defense get ready, bro. I think that coming in on a Wednesday being my first day, I think they’re getting ready to play the Chargers in full swing. I know that they want my help in some way, shape, or form. So right now, I think my role is to help get the defense ready to play Sunday.
Risner also spoke about his eagerness to get back on the field. He’s motivated after enduring a long offseason without a contract:
I feel like I’m a really good guard in the NFL. So I have a lot to prove because me being available when I was shows the exact opposite. And that pisses me off. But as a good teammate and as a man of God and someone that comes from humble beginnings, I know the way I shouldn’t come in here and act. I’m not going to be that way. If I’m ever given that opportunity, it’s going to be a different person that comes out because there’s a lot I want to prove, there’s a lot I want to accomplish, there’s a lot I want to show the world of football that I am that they said I wasn’t.
The Denver Broncos opted not to re-sign Risner after a very solid season, and the lack of a second contract from his hometown team will motivate him to perform to a standard that will allow him to sign to a multi-year deal.
Risner should prove to be a very welcome signing, and his added talent will help to better protect Kirk Cousins in the pocket. For the first time in a long time, the Vikings seem to be putting together an above-average offensive line, and that is something fans should be ecstatic about.