5 Cuts the Vikings Can Make to Create Massive Cap Space

The Minnesota Vikings offseason is officially underway after their loss in the Wild Card round to the New York Giants. One of the biggest topics of discussion for Minnesota, as has been for multiple years now, is their salary cap.

Currently, the Vikings are over the projected 2023 salary cap by a total of $24,551,507. To be sure, this is not an ideal number at all. However, Minnesota has many ways that they can create massive amounts of cap space this offseason. Here are 5 cuts the Vikings can make to flip their cap number on its head.

NOTE: Cap numbers are taken from OverTheCap.com

Adam Thielen

Dec 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) in action against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
  • Current 2023 cap number: $19,967,647
  • Pre-June 1st dead money: $13, 550,000
  • Potential savings: $6,417,647

Adam Thielen has been a folk hero in Minnesota for a long time now, but the signs are pointing to that time coming to an end this offseason. The Vikings could double their cap savings by cutting Thielen after June 1st, but they are in need of immediate cap space to pay free agents. Whether it’s a cut or a trade, expect Thielen to be in a different uniform for the 2023 season.

Za’Darius Smith

Will the Real Z-Smith Please Stand Up?
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.
  • Current 2023 cap number: $16,990,195
  • Pre-June 1st dead money: $3,333,334
  • Potential savings: $13,656,861

For the first half of the 2022 season, Za’Darius Smith looked like the best free agent signing in the entire NFL. However, his production came to a halt during the final eight games that he suited up for, including the playoffs. In those games, he had just 2 TFLs and 0.5 sacks. Perhaps Smith could bounce back under a new defensive coordinator, but the cap space he can provide the Vikings is too valuable to pass up.

Eric Kendricks

Eric Kendricks
Jun 11, 2019; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) speaks with outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) during practice at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
  • Current 2023 cap number: $11,430,000
  • Pre-June 1st dead money: $1,930,000
  • Potential saving: $9,500,000

Eric Kendricks has been one of the best (and underrated) off-ball linebackers in the NFL for many years. However, we all watched the 2022 season, and it just seems like his body cannot handle the toll that this role requires, especially in the Vikings defense. Minnesota desperately needs faster linebackers in 2023, and by cutting Kendricks, they free up the space to find one.

Jordan Hicks

Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
  • Current 2023 cap number: $6,500,000
  • Pre-June 1st dead money: $1,500,000
  • Potential savings: $5,000,000

Ditto to everything said about Eric Kendricks, with the added caveat that Jordan Hicks has only been in a Vikings uniform for one season. The Vikings won’t have the same amount of loyalty to Hicks that they may feel for Kendricks, so regardless of what happens, expect Hicks to be gone sooner than later.

C.J. Ham

C.J. Ham
Nov 8, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings fullback C.J. Ham. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.
  • Current 2023 cap number: $3,800,000
  • Pre-June 1st dead money: $750,000
  • Potential savings: $3,050,000

Times are tough in Minnesota, and they simply cannot go into 2023 paying a fullback nearly $4 million. C.J. Ham has been a Swiss army knife in the Vikings backfield over the past few years, but with all the needs that Minnesota has defensively, they’ll offload their fullback this offseason.

Final Tallies

  • Total savings: $37,624,508
  • New salary cap space: $13,073,001

These are five very basic cuts that the Vikings can make to increase their cap space this offseason ahead of free agency. It doesn’t even take into account a potential move for Harrison Smith, who the Vikings could save an additional $7 million by cutting prior to free agency. Neither did we mention possible extensions for guys like Kirk Cousins, T.J. Hockenson, and Danielle Hunter. These three extensions could form another $30+ million in space for this offseason.

All-in-all, logging into a site like Over the Cap and seeing that the Vikings have the third-fewest amount of cap space in the NFL can be daunting. However, be sure that Minnesota has numerous options to free up space to bring in quality free agents. Now, the team just has to perform these moves.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.