Pick Six Podcast: Why the Vikings' championship window might be shorter than we think

The Minnesota Vikings came within 60 minutes of becoming the first team to ever host a Super Bowl they were playing in. A disastrous NFC Championship Game loss to the Eagles kept that from happening, but it didn't hold Minnesota back from being aggressive this offseason. The Vikings went out and signed Kirk Cousins to one of the largest free-agent deals you'll ever see, an $84 million, fully guaranteed contract that will keep him in Minnesota for the next three years. 

But how big is the Vikings championship window here? As Anthony Broome of 247 Sports noted on the Pick Six Podcast Tuesday, it's entirely possible this is THE YEAR for the Vikings. 

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"The expectations is not just win the division and go to the playoffs anymore," Broome said. "I don't want to say this is the last year of their championship window, but this is the last year everyone's under contract ... all hands are on deck right now."

Say whaaaaaaat? The Vikings are loaded. They can't possibly be dealing with issues when it comes to talent defecting, right? Well, not so fast, my friend. Broome is right: there are some issues in terms of guys who need new contracts pretty soon.

Reviewing the Vikings who are going to be free agents after the 2018 season shows that a) this is a huge year for them and b) Rick Spielman has his work cut out for him this offseason. 

Anthony Barr is playing on his fifth-year option this season and is a free agent after 2018; the Vikings already invested in Eric Kendricks at the linebacker position and Barr could be a casualty. Sheldon Richardson signed a one-year deal this offseason. Brian Robison is 35 but on the final year of his deal. Danielle Hunter is in the last year of his rookie deal as well. That's a fairly big chunk of the Vikings' front seven -- they can't franchise tag them all. 

Stefon Diggs also will be a free agent after this season. 

This is a good problem to have: the 2015 draft class for the Vikings produced Trae Waynes (who has a fifth-year option for 2019), Kendricks, Hunter and Diggs. That's the kind of draft that fuels a Super Bowl window.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, all those guys are on their rookie contracts (except for Kendricks), which means that they're going to want to get paid, which means that the Vikings are going to have to make some hard choices. Locking down Diggs or Hunter this offseason would be huge, because it would give the Vikings the ability to retain the other player or Barr next year via the franchise tag or through an extension. 

Regardless, even though the Vikings are set to compete in the NFC for the next few years, they are facing the final year in 2018 where they have that full group from what is an epic draft class.

Listen to the full show below and don't forget to subscribe: via iTunes | via Stitcher | via TuneIn | via Google Play.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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