The Vikings Are Still Sitting on a Pile of Potential Cap Space

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Currently, money isn’t overly abundant for the Vikings. Nevertheless, the Vikings are still in a good position to open up a lot more cap space.

Several moves to retain internal players – Andrew DePaola, Garrett Bradbury, Nick Mullens, Greg Joseph – have gobbled up cap space even as Kirk Cousins’ adjusted deal opens up some 2023 options. On the horizon, there are the deals for Josh Oliver, Marcus Davenport, and Byron Murphy. Unless something unforeseen happens, they’ll all officially become employees of the Minnesota Vikings this evening.

Jan 2, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been able to glean some insight on the 2023 cap implications on some of these deals. Per Ben Goessling, the QB2 is going to have a $1.572 million cap hit, the C1 a $2.6 million cap hit, and the new CB1 a $5 million cap hit (these numbers aren’t ironclad but, rather, strong estimates that’ll be close to the final number). Overall, some really nice work from Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to navigate a challenging budget in 2023.

Minnesota, in short, isn’t going to need to push all of their potential extensions, restructures, and cuts to the max. They have the luxury of being able to slow play some of the financial decisions.

That being said, it’s worth remembering that options do exist. Just take a look at 3 very plausible scenarios and then the potential cap savings:

PlayerTransactionPotential Savings
Hockenson, T.J.Extension$6,599,200
O’Neill, BrianRestructure$10,065,000
Smith, Za’DariusTrade$12,156,861

None of these deals are unlikely. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that a Hockenson extension, O’Neill restructure, and Smith trade are the likeliest outcomes for the trio of players. Pulling off these deals could open up close to $29 million in 2023 cap space. Keep in mind that we haven’t even considered expensive veterans like Harrison Smith, Dalvin Cook, and C.J. Ham.

While a lot of the players have been scooped up, several impact free agents remain. Many of the best fits are still out there.

Looking for some extra help for the corners? Rock Ya-Sin could add some much-needed experience (with plenty youth given that he’s only 26). What about some extra help at linebacker? Well, Bobby Wagner and Lavonte David are still out there. Though older, they’re still elite options.

Oct 25, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) walks to the locker room following a 13-10 loss against the New Orleans Saints at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Up front, adding another pass rusher or two would make a ton of sense. Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, Frank Clark, and Jadeveon Clowney are still out there. The Vikings could even pivot toward the WR2 spot, adding some speed by looking toward Darius Slayton, D.J. Chark, Mecole Hardman, or Parris Campbell.

The broader point, folks, is that the Vikings have some options. More importantly, Adofo-Mensah has the ability to open up enough room to keep adding notable talent. The young executive has been doing some excellent work. Let’s see if he has another trick or two up his sleeve.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.