The Vikings Got Some Salary Cap Relief Over the Weekend

Brian O'Neill
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings entered Week 1 of the NFL season with one of the tightest salary cap situations in the NFL.

Heading into the weekend, Over the Cap estimated that the Vikings had less than $3 million in cap space, ranking 28th in the NFL.

However, new reports have suggested that the Vikings got some salary cap relief this weekend by finally restructuring Brian O’Neill’s contract. Field Yates of ESPN reported the restructure on X (formerly Twitter), posting, “Contract restructures to create cap room on the eve of the season (all done on Saturday): Vikings OT Brian O’Neill: $9.99M created. Commanders OT Charles Leno: $6M created (3 void years added). Packers OT Yosuah Nijman: $2.54M created (4 void years added).”

The Vikings Got Some Salary Cap Relief Over the Weekend

Vikings Salary Cap
Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (75) readies at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter during an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Bears defeated the Vikings 33-27. (AP Photo/David Berding)

If OTC’s estimations are correct, then this restructure would put the Vikings right around $13 million in cap space. This amount gallops the Vikings all the way to the fourth-most cap space in the league.

So, why would the Vikings opt to do this now rather than earlier in the offseason? Well, Kevin Seifert of ESPN may have the answer. He posted a potential explanation on X, “The long-awaited Brian O’Neill restructure finally happened Saturday, per Field. The Vikings were down to the wire on the Justin Jefferson negotiations at the time…”

This appears to have been a last-ditch effort to get the Jefferson extension done prior to Week 1. The assumption is that he would have gotten a large signing bonus, meaning the Vikings needed to free up some immediate cap room in order to get that done.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, the extension could not get done, and now, the Vikings are sitting on a pile of cash for the rest of the season.

That being said, this money isn’t for naught. The Vikings can either use that money to bring in a free agent (ahem, Dalton Risner) or make a splash in the trade market. At the deadline last year, the Vikings swung a trade to acquire T.J. Hockenson, giving their offense another pass-catcher.

Even if the Vikings simply sit on their money for this season, whatever cap space that they don’t use will simply roll over into 2024. As they sit on ~$46 million in space for next offseason, this provides the potential for them to jump as far as $50-$55 million, assuming they make some sort of other moves throughout the year.

Vikings Had the Worst Draft
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

If they get to $50 million in cap space next year, that would put them around 16th in the league. This is a far cry from the past few years where they have had to navigate some deep waters near the bottom of the league.

Regardless of what happens over the next 12 months, the Vikings now have some extra money in the back of their pockets. This is something that many NFL teams would like to have, so it will be interesting to see how they use it.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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