In a Tumultuous Offseason, Which Vikings Starters Get Cut?

NCAA Football: Michigan at Minnesota
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are about to make a bunch of decisions regarding their roster in a very short timeframe.

About three weeks from now, they will have to decide whether to extend Kirk Cousins, Marcus Davenport, and/or Danielle Hunter or allow their contracts to void. Currently, the Vikings have about $24.6 million in salary cap space (per Over the Cap). It should be assumed that at least a couple current Vikings starters will be cut in order to increase that number, but which players will Minnesota move on from? Let’s go over a few options here.

NOTE: For simplicity’s sake, the amount of cap savings for each player will assume that they are cut before June 1st, but it should be noted that these numbers can change following that date.

Will These Vikings Starters Be Out in 2024?

Vikings Starters
Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) celebrates a sack during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

S Harrison Smith

  • 2024 cap hit: $19.215 million
  • Savings through cut: $11.384 million

Harrison Smith has been a staple in the Vikings secondary for over a decade. He earned the nickname “Hitman” for being a vicious tackler and has recorded 1013 tackles, 45 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks, 85 passes defended, 34 interceptions, and 12 forced fumbles. That interception total ranks second-highest among all active players behind only Smith’s former Vikings teammate, Patrick Peterson (36).

The defender may be heading towards his final days with the Vikings, though. Smith is set to carry a whopping $19.2 million cap hit for his age-35 season, and the Vikings would be able to save right around $11.384 million of that 2024 cap hit if they were to cut him in the spring. With the talented youth that Minnesota has found at the position (including restricted free agent Theo Jackson), it may be time to move on.

DL Dean Lowry

  • 2024 cap hit: $4.482 million
  • Savings through cut: $2.082 million

Dean Lowry signed with the Vikings last offseason after seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He served as a strong pass rushing presence in the middle of Green Bay’s defensive line for multiple years, but that never came to fruition in Minnesota.

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Dean Lowry (94) and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Lowry played nine games for the Vikings this season, making four starts, and amassed just 14 total tackles over the course of the year with no tackles for loss or a single sack. If Minnesota is going to revamp their defensive trenches this offseason, Lowry feels like the first player to go.

P Ryan Wright

  • 2024 cap hit: $986,668
  • Savings through cut: $985,000

Ryan Wright was one of the best punters in the league during the 2022 season, but his production saw a bit of a drop off in 2023. Wright landed 32 of his 73 punts inside the 20-yard-line in 2022 and had just a single touchback.

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings punter Ryan Wright (14) reacts after throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

2023, however, saw Wright boot just 17 of his 59 punts inside the 20 (a drop of 15%), and he had seven punts result as touchbacks. Of course, there could be a couple different reasons for this, but Wright certainly wasn’t as effective this past season. Don’t be surprised if Minnesota opts to at least bring in some punting competition this spring (looking at you, Tory Taylor).

DL Harrison Phillips

  • 2024 cap hit: $8.833 million
  • Savings through cut: $6.5 million

The decision to let Harrison Phillips go depends on Minnesota’s plan on the defensive line. They could already be losing Jonathan Bullard to free agency, and the Vikings need to add more beef to their defensive trenches this offseason.

2023 was a strong year for Phillips as he put together 92 tackles, two tackles for loss, three sacks, and two passes defended. Cutting Phillips before June 1st would save Minnesota $6.5 million of his $8.83 million cap hit in 2024. However, he would certainly be the least likely candidate among this group unless the Vikings feel extremely confident that they either have a replacement in-house (Jaquelin Roy) or can find one via free agency or the draft.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Over the Cap and Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of 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.