1 Extension, Cut, Restructure, & Trade Candidate for the Vikings

Injuries May Implode the Vikings Playoff Hopes
Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O'Neill (75) leads his team to the field to play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will need to pursue a variety of strategies to get the purple finances in order. Truth be told, no one really knows what the GM will do, but we can be reasonably confident that he’ll be leaning on all kinds of manoeuvres to figure out the salary cap. As a result, PurplePTSD is offering up a single extension, cut, restructure, and trade candidate for the Vikings.

If Minnesota pursued each one of these options, they’d save nearly $22,500,000 in cap space. Even better is that they’d only be losing 2 players while also (presumably) being able to add a bit of draft capital. Plus, the moves leave behind less than $1 million in dead money.

An Extension, Cut, Restructure, and Trade Candidate for the Vikings

Extension Candidate: TE T.J. Hockenson
Potential Cap Savings: $6,599,200

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of wading into the controversial Kirk Cousins extension waters, I’ll put forth a name that most should agree on: former Lion T.J. Hockenson.

The tight end performed admirably since coming to Minnesota during the season. The one knock, perhaps, is that his yards-per-catch average dropped substantially. Instead of the 15.2 YPC he had in Detroit, Hockenson had a pedestrian 8.7 average in Minnesota.

Allowing Hockenson to be more than just a volume TE would be a welcome change in the coming season. If successful, Minnesota’s #1 & #2 pass catchers – Jefferson and Hockenson – will be a true terror for other teams to nullify.

Extra Reading: The Vikings’ Most Obvious Extension Candidate

Restructure Candidate: OT Brian O’Neill
Potential Savings: $10,065,000

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (75) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The main concern with restructuring O’Neill is the achilles injury. Virtually every other factor is working in his favor.

He’s a still-young player who will carry a large cap hit into 2023, a year when Minnesota could use more room. He plays one of the game’s preeminent positions and has continued his upward ascent with his play. He has become one of the team’s leaders, as evidenced by Minnesota’s decision to slap a “C” on his chest for the 2022 season.

The contract already runs into 2026, so Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a lot of room to spread out a signing bonus. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if a restructure doesn’t happen.

Extra Reading: Why Restructuring Brian O’Neill Makes Sense for the Vikings

Cut Candidate: FB C.J. Ham
Potential Savings: $3,050,000

Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings fullback C.J. Ham (30) looks on prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

A fan favorite, C.J. Ham may be looking for a new team in 2023.

In 2023, it’s unsual to pay a fullback $3.8 million. Currently, it’s the 3rd-largest hit for a FB, behind only San Francisco’s Kyle Juszczyk and Baltimore’s Patrick Ricard.

Making matters even more concerning is that Ham played a mere 15% of the team’s offensive snaps in Kevin O’Connell’s first season in Minnesota. That’s the lowest percentage since all the way back to 2018.

He’ll be 30 during the 2023 season. Last year, he had 4 carries for 7 yards and 10 catches for 86 yards. He picked up a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Extra Reading: If this is it for C.J. Ham, Then it Has Been a Heck of a Vikings Career

Trade Candidate: CB Cameron Dantzler
Potential Savings: $2,743,000

Week 16 Vikings Inactives
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler Sr. (3) reacts late during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Dantzler still has lots of supporters in Minnesota. The 2020 third-round corner has had tremendous moments in a purple uniform but he has also has some serious lowlights. Since the defense is once again experiencing a change, it wouldn’t be totally surprising to see Dantlzer heading elsewhere. Heading into Year 4, Dantzler will be working with his 3rd DC if he sticks around.

He slipped into the third round due to his speed, or lack thereof. However, he’s demonstrated some sticky coverage at various points in his NFL career. Adding that coverage in with his excellent tackling makes him an attractive player for a lot of defensive coordinators.

Last season, he allowed 77.4% of passes into his coverage to be completed. The year prior, that number was down at 54.1%. Don’t be shocked if news emerges that teams have been calling about the long, physical corner. He’s a good player.

Extra Reading: The Vikings’ Trade Candidates Aren’t Who You Think They Are

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

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