A Look at the Vikings Finances for the Remainder of 2023
Recently, the Minnesota Vikings decided to move on from pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith after just one season. This decision likely comes as a result of Smith’s request to be released from the team back in March.
The Vikings were amongst the bottom in the league in remaining cap space for this season, sitting at just about $1 million under the salary cap. However, with this trade officially in the books, and other moves that Minnesota can still make this offseason, where exactly are the Vikings finances sitting for the remainder of 2023?
Currently, the Vikings have the 20th-most cap space in the league at $9,579,639, according to Over the Cap. Compared to the rest of the NFC North, this is a rather small chunk of change as every other team has at least $16.5 million remaining in their checkbooks.
However, the Vikings still have a number of moves in their back pockets if they want to free up more cap space. Dalvin Cook is very likely to be moved prior to the start of the 2023 season, whether it be via trade or release.
If Minnesota were to trade Cook, they would save up to $11 million in additional cap space, upping their potential cap space to a clean $20.5 million and propelling them into the top-five in the league.
Additionally, if they find a reason to get very serious about freeing up cap space, the Vikings can opt to restructure Brian O’Neill’s contract, which could save them another $10+ million, jumping them to just under $31 million. Though it simply feels like overkill for the Vikings to opt to restructure the contract this year and push money into 2024 and 2025, so we probably shouldn’t expect this move to happen.
If the Vikings pulled the trigger on both of these moves, though, they would sit just behind the Chicago Bears at $32 million for the most cap space in the NFL (based on where teams sit right now).
So, what exactly should we expect the Vikings to do with the cap space that they would have if the Cook trade happens? They have a few different options.
The Vikings could target another top remaining free agent, or even a couple of them, with upwards of $20 million in cap space to work with. Recently, former Vikings GM Jeff Diamond laid out a couple free agents that he would like the Vikings to target.
We also have to keep in mind, though, that Minnesota would be smart to reserve at least a portion of their cap space to sign players during the season in case injuries pop up. They likely don’t need more than a few million in order to do this, but it is worth noting.
Finally, if the Vikings don’t use all of their cap space from this season, they can roll over their remaining cap space in 2023. Heading into the 2022 offseason, the Jaguars were able to roll over $25 million from the 2021 season, allowing them to be major players in free agency that offseason, which helped them make the playoffs this past year. Perhaps the Vikings could pull a similar move to help them grab even more cap space to add onto what looks like a big pile of cash to spend next spring.
In all, the Vikings cap situation began as one of the bleaker situations this offseason. However, through some smart money-handling over the past few months, Minnesota now finds themselves in a great position for the rest of this offseason and into next year. It will be very interesting to see how they use this new-found wealth.
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.