Vikings Salary Cap Gets a Paltry Boost

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Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates the win after the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Things are pretty snug for the Vikings salary cap. Unfortunately, the carry over from this season’s budget isn’t going to help matters very much.

Field Yates recently highlighted that every NFL team has submitted their cap space rollover money. Minnesota finds itself in second-last in the NFL:

At the very top of the pile is the Cleveland Browns, the team that formerly employed Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. They’re looking at a cap boost that’s above $27.5 million. It’s an amount that easily clears the next best team: the Carolina Panthers and their $10.75(ish) million.

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the image and you’ll see that the Vikings salary cap is getting an infusion of … $439,013. In the world of NFL finances, it’s a paltry amount. The budgetary richter scale would barely pick up on anything.

Dec 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles looks on before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Across the NFC North, there isn’t too much room being carried from 2022 into 2023. The Packers will bring along just over $1.6 million and the Lions will add nearly $2.25 million to their 2023 room. The exception is the Bears, a team that is positioning itself for some major moves in the upcoming offseason. Ryan Poles is looking at nearly $9.6 million in extra cap room.

The Vikings Salary Cap in 2023

Thankfully, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has several options to create cap room. The GM will likely be leaning on some combination of cuts, trades, restructures, extensions, and void years to shuffle money around.

The current projection is for Minnesota to be more than $7 million over next season’s cap. Keep in mind that it’s a number that only includes 45 players who are under contract, so the GM does have some work to do.

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Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Adofo-Mensah has already begun the work of evaluating the finances for the 2023 Vikings. True, the team’s full focus ought to be on the playoffs, but the team’s front office isn’t hindered to just thinking about the current season. Rest assured that there is already a vigorous plan in place, one that is hopefully flexible enough to navigate the various curve balls an NFL offseason can throw at a team.

I’d say there is a very good chance we see another Kirk Cousins extension. The team can create more than $23 million through an extension. Now, being able to do something isn’t the same thing as actually doing something. Even still, the option is there, and I expect Adofo-Mensah to take it. Tacking one another year or two will allow Minnesota to get a bit of breathing room in the immediate.

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Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Furthermore, there are several veterans who seem unlikely to be brought back on their current deals. Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, and Eric Kendricks were all given huge deals by the former leadership team; all 3 are getting closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. Cook is still only 27 but he plays a super physical position, so it’s hard to know where he’s at; hopefully, the RB still has plenty of years ahead of him.

Simply cutting all three players – which is very unlikely to happen – would give Minnesota more than $23.7 million in room. I’d imagine the team will be interested in restructuring their deals.

Something that has possibly been lost in the shuffle a little bit is that Minnesota retained Rob Brzezinski amidst all the leadership changes. A salary cap wizard, Brzezinski is no stranger to working through financial constraints. Expect him to find creative ways to put money into the 2023 budget.

Unfortunately, the carryover isn’t going to be very much help, but the Vikings do have the potential to be active for free agents.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap helped with this piece.