Adofo-Mensah’s Shrewd Decision Leaves Trades, Signings as Distinct Possibilities for Vikings

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It took a little while, but the Vikings and Danielle Hunter eventually reached an agreement. The team gets to keep their star defender without committing to years of major money; the defender gets a heftier pile of cash while returning to the only team he has known. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s shrewd contract makes sense for all parties.

One of the lingering questions, though, has rested in how the deal impacted the Vikings’ salary cap. The team was sitting on more than $18 million in cap space before agreeing to the new contract, so some of that was bound to disintegrate once Hunter’s pen hit the page. Thanks to Field Yates of ESPN, we now know how the finances work.

Adofo-Mensah’s Shrewd Contract and The Room for Additions

Per Yates, the Vikings will be forfeiting $7-8 million in cap space for 2023. The cap charge jumps from a touch above $13 million to $20.95 million.

Questions Answered: Lions Game Prediction, the Bounceback, Jeff Okudah
Dec 8, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports.

Earlier in the day, Josh Frey took on the news for PurplePTSD. Mr. Frey — relying on the same Yates report alongside some insight from OTC — does a nice job of summarizing how the purple budget gets impacted:

Additionally, Hunter gets a signing bonus of $5.5 million, per-game bonuses of $1.5 million (guaranteed), and up to $3 million in incentives. His updated cap hit in 2023 is now $20.95 million, up from the original $13.12 million from his previous contract.

This new deal eats into approximately $7.83 million of the Vikings remaining salary cap. Per Over the Cap, Minnesota originally sat at just over $18.1 million, so based on those calculations, the Viking should land at right around $10.27 million in remaining cap space.

For the sake or simplicity, let’s say the Vikings have a clean $10 million in cap space. Is that enough to improve? The answer is an enthusiastic yes.

Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Many Vikings fans will instinctively think of iOL Dalton Risner since the big man just visited TCO Performance Center for a meeting with the Vikings. Kevin O’Connell even addressed the meeting during his recent press conference, noting his desire to pursue talented players as they constantly seek to improve.

Seeing the talented guard soar past $5 million would be surprising. Yes, for Minnesota’s purposes, anything beyond $3-$5 million would likely be prohibitive.

Of course, we all know that the GM loves pulling off a trade. There has been no shortage of speculation about who could be added, with discussions taking place around LB Isaiah Simmons, LB Patrick Queen, QB Malik Willis, and even S Budda Baker (who doesn’t appear to be leaving Arizona).

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Arizona Cardinals strong safety Budda Baker (36) returns a fumble by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) for a touchdown during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Sinking down to roughly $10 million in cap space means the Vikings are now in the bottom half of the league for available funds. However, Minnesota still has the potential of, say, extending T.J. Hockenson to clear more money off the books. Over the Cap suggests that such a move could free up nearly $6.6 million. Similar cap shenanigans could take place with Brian O’Neill or even someone like Harrison Phillips if more space is needed.

Never one to be boxed into a corner, Adofo-Mensah’s shrewd decision with the Hunter contract leaves the Vikings will plenty of options moving forward. Expect the Vikings to explore various options to improve their personnel before the season arrives.

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