Vikings Rumors: A Pile of Cap Space, WR2 Need, & Internal Free Agents

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Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

We’ve officially transitioned into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors are going to be coming fast and furious.

As a result, I’m returning to the “Vikings Rumor Wrangle,” a series I’ve leaned on previously to keep readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss the potential for a lot of cap space, the supposed need for a new WR2, and Minnesota’s impending free agents.

The Vikings Rumors – 01.18.2023

#1 – The Vikings Can Create a Ton of Cap Space

Indeed, the option is there to exceed $100 million in extra cap room. Now, having an option isn’t the same thing taking the option. Plus, it would be remarkably foolish for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to completely push the cap savings to the max.

Nevertheless, the point remains: the team has the capacity to carve out some substantial financial savings.

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Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

One thing that’s important to remember is that cap space isn’t in and of itself the goal. On the contrary, cap space is merely a means to an end. The point is to use that cap space to bring in impact players, guys who can help push this team to that elusive Super Bowl. In other words, the money needs to be spent on players who will actually make a positive difference.

Simply having cap space and spending huge money isn’t the same thing as positioning oneself for Super Bowl contention.

#2 – The Vikings Need a New WR2

For a little while, Adam Thielen has been the WR2 in Minnesota. That reality may change, though, given the upcoming massive cap hit: nearly $20 million. Thielen’s wife even suggested on social media that his time playing for the Vikings may soon be coming to an end.

November 28, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

The last time Thielen has surpassed 1,000 yards was in 2018. Since that time, we’ve seen the team go through John DeFilippo, Kevin Stefanski, Gary Kubiak, Klint Kubiak, and Wes Phillips as the team’s offensive coordinators. In the NFL, a lot can happen in a 5-year window.

Despite the signs of some impending change, I’m of the opinion that WR2 isn’t a huge need. Justin Jefferson, of course, will remain the WR1. The next pass catcher will be TE T.J. Hockenson; though not a WR, he’ll continue being Kirk Cousins’ #2 target in the passing game. K.J. Osborn – future captain of the Minnesota Vikings – can thrive as this team’s WR2/#3 pass catching option.

Moreover, we shouldn’t totally overlook the possibility of a contract restructure for Thielen. Restructuring his deal offers more potential savings than a standard cut.

#3 – The Vikings Have Some Free Agents They Don’t Want to Lose

Yes, this is one definitely true. The chances of them using a franchise tag are close to zero, so that’s not a route that we should anticipate (largely due to cap constraints). That being said, Adofo-Mensah will be working toward keeping several impact free agents in a purple uniform.

Take a look at who will be available:

There is some chatter that Garrett Bradbury is looking to return, but the price tag will be fascinating. There are 7 centers who average $10 million or more per season. A couple others surpass the $9 million per season average. Only 5, though, have secured guarantees that exceed $25 million for their contracts.

Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Forced to guess, I’d say Minnesota leans toward a relatively modest prove-it deal for Bradbury.

Otherwise, I’ve got my eye on Dalvin Tomlinson and Patrick Peterson. There’s an argument to be made that they were Minnesota’s best two defenders in 2022 (with Danielle Hunter also having a strong argument). My sense is that each enjoy their time in Minnesota and will be open to staying.

Peterson, in particular, seems like a great candidate to be brought back. Ideally, he can continue helping the Vikings’ secondary for a couple more seasons.

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