The Vikings are Navigating a Snug Salary Cap

Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Speaks at the 2023 NFL Combine
Mar 1, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been busy over the past several days. We’ve seen several trades, some of which helped to clear money off the cap. Even still, things are looking pretty tight when it comes to the Vikings salary cap.

According to Over the Cap, Minnesota is currently working with a touch more than $3 million in room. Spotrac mostly agrees, but they suggest that Minnesota has even less room. They have the Vikings at a touch less than $2.5 million (with the caveat at the end that it’s “Est. Cap Space”).

To be safe, let’s say the team is working with somewhere between $2-$3 million in cap room. That’s not very much, folks.

The Vikings have nearly $25 million in dead money chewing up cap space. Much of that comes from Anthony Barr, who has the 6th-largest cap hit for the Vikings roster in 2022 even though it’s all dead money.

If the Vikings end up needing some wiggle room for their salary cap, Adofo-Mensah will have a few options. He could pull off more trades or cut a player. More likely, though, are restructures.

One thinks of Eric Kendricks as a good option. Though older, Kendricks is still an excellent player. OTC indicates that his deal continues for this season and the next. Next year, his cap hit will be for $11.43 million. The catch is that there are no longer any guarantees. Plus, the team could move on from Kendricks with relatively little financial consequence. Cutting him after this season leaves behind $1.93 million in dead money while freeing $9.5 million.

In other words, there could plausibly be some good motivation from both sides to work out a new contract. The Vikings ought to be interested in retaining their great players; Kendricks may be interested in securing more guaranteed money. If that’s the case, then it’s plausible that there could be an extension, one that tacks on another year or two while converting some money to a signing bonus to help shift money around.

Kendricks, of course, isn’t the only player who could agree to a restructured deal. However, his deal is one that offers quite a bit of potential room in 2022 if the Vikings need more space in their salary cap.

In an ideal world, Minnesota could have a bit more financial flexibility heading into the season. Injuries are an unfortunate reality of NFL football, so teams often need to make additions as the year unfolds. Having the financial resources to pull off these moves may require Minnesota’s front office to make a few moves.

One final thought. We’ve long known that the Vikings’ leadership is looking to contend this year. It remains to be seen if they will, but the goal is clear: get into the playoffs and then compete for a Super Bowl. Spending to (very near) the cap simply reaffirms this goal.

The season begins in a little more than a week. The Vikings will play the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 11.

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