The Vikings Are Setting Up to Be Big Spenders in 2024 and Beyond
The Minnesota Vikings were a relatively active team throughout the free agency period this offseason, but they found themselves right in the middle of the league in terms of spending. However, with some of their moves this offseason, and some additional moves that could be yet to come, the Vikings are setting up to be big spenders in 2024. Today, we are going to go over the potential pathway towards Minnesota creating some huge cap space for next offseason.
Where Minnesota Currently Stands
If we look at Over the Cap, the projected salary cap for the 2024 season is $256 million, a jump of $31.2 million from the 2023 salary cap. If we saw a leap of this magnitude, a number of teams would benefit in terms of their salary cap situations, but the Vikings would sit at right around $59.3 million as of now.
That number will inevitably go down from its current spot because Minnesota is yet to pay their upcoming 2023 Draft class. If the Vikings don’t change anything regarding their number of picks and the position of those picks (an unlikely scenario considering Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s tendency to pull the trigger on trades), Minnesota would pay their five rookies around $6.2 million.
So, for our purposes, we are going to estimate that the draft class will make around $8 million in 2024. That brings us down to $51.3 million, which ranks 19th in the NFL at this point.
The Big Moves Yet to Come
While $50 million is a pretty penny for next offseason and certainly much more than Minnesota had to work with heading into the 2023 offseason, the Vikings could very well create much more with a few big moves.
This includes moving on from Kirk Cousins and taking on his $28.5 million in dead money, so this is further evidence that we don’t need to be overly concerned about this massive amount. We will also be taking into account a $19.7 million fifth-year option for Justin Jefferson in these cap totals.
If Minnesota opts to move on from their current starting QB, here is the preliminary list of moves that can be made:
- Cut/Trade Dalvin Cook this summer or next spring, saving $12.5 million in 2024.
- Cut/Trade Za’Darius Smith this summer or next spring, saving $20 million in 2024.
- Restructure Brian O’Neill next spring, pushing $8.9 million into future years.
- Cut Harrison Phillips next spring, saving $6.5 million in 2024.
- Cut Harrison Smith next spring, saving $11.3 million in 2024.
- Move on from Danielle Hunter.
If the Vikings do every single one of these things, again taking into account a total of $58.2 million being attributed to Cousins and Jefferson as well as the money being used on draft selections this spring, the Vikings would land at around $91-92 million for next offseason.
We should also take into account that if the Vikings were to move on from Cook and Z. Smith this offseason, they could find themselves with anywhere from $11-20 million (depending on how/when the moves happen) in 2023 cap space after they sign their draft picks.
This opens the door to a potential OBJ or DeAndre Hopkins move, or it could just give them some wiggle room to make a move during the season if the team spots a major need due to injury or an underperforming group of players. Regardless, extra cap space in the chamber is never a bad thing.
How Will Minnesota Use Their Cap Space?
If the Vikings do find themselves in a situation where they have $90+ million going into next offseason, there are a few things that have to get checked off before signing free agents. New contracts for players like Ezra Cleveland, Marcus Davenport, T.J. Hockenson, and K.J. Osborn have to be considered, and potential deals for other depth players.
This could knock off a sizeable chunk of whatever cap space they create, but it’s very unlikely that it puts the Vikings back below a $40-50 million threshold for free agency in 2024. Minnesota also has other moves they can do to free up more space such as a Byron Murphy extension.
If Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith are no longer on the team (as projected by this list) then EDGE could be a big need in free agency next offseason. Obviously, it’s hard to tell exactly who will actually hit the open market about 11 months from now, but among the initial group right now includes players like Josh Allen (Jacksonville’s Josh Allen, not Buffalo’s quarterback), Rashan Gary, Trey Hendrickson, and Montez Sweat.
Additionally, if Minnesota wants to find a receiver, Mecole Hardman is once again set to be a free agent next year as well as Marquise Brown, DJ Chark, Michael Pittman, and Calvin Ridley.
However, the cap space doesn’t stop at 2024. If things continue tracking upwards for 2025, the Vikings are sitting on upwards of $200 million right now for that offseason, per Over the Cap. It’s obviously far too early to be considering exactly where the Vikings will end up for that offseason, but it’s worth noting the continued cap space being available with looming extensions for both Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw.
The point, folks, is that even if you were a bit underwhelmed by some of the offseason spending to this point in 2023, the blueprint for the Vikings seems to be tracking towards becoming big spenders in future years to truly go for their Super Bowl.
Especially if they find their QB on a rookie contract, Minnesota should comfortably be able to fit extensions for their two young stars while also finding major contributors via free agency. The Vikings will certainly try to be competitive in 2023, but their best chances at making deep playoff runs still lie in front of them rather than behind. That should be an exciting thing to consider.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. 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.