Vikings Rumors: Vikings Legend Going to Texas, Resuscitating Dead Money, & a Free Agent Influx

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Since we’re officially into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors are arriving fast and furious, we’ll be highlighting some of the purple rumblings.

The “Vikings Rumor Wrangle” is a series that keeps readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss the possibility of Harrison Smith joining Mike Zimmer in Dallas, the Vikings pushing back the void date on Marcus Davenport’s deal, and free agency steadily getting more talent.

Vikings Rumors: 02.21.2024

Rumor #1 — Harrison Smith Will Sign in Dallas After Getting Cut

Let’s slow down a bit. For starters, The Hitman hasn’t been cut. Do the player and team find a way of continuing the relationship in 2024? Maybe, maybe not; but, of course, that’s precisely the point. A lot still needs to be determined with Mr. Smith.

With that reality in mind, a future where Smith both wants to keep playing but can’t come to a reworked contract in Minnesota isn’t difficult to envision. The veteran safety would then get his shot at signing with (presumably) a pile of interested teams. One team that really stands out, as Ben Leber suggests, is the Dallas Cowboys.

NFL: New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) breaks up a pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson (17) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Take a look at the word from the former Vikings linebacker and current team analyst: “Lots of attention on Kirk and JJ but don’t forget about Hitman. Lots of speculation on his future with Vikes. If not the Vikes, makes sense that he’ll make that Cowboys defense even better.”

The fit in Dallas rests in the simple fact that Mike Zimmer has just taken over as the defensive coordinator. Give the crusty coach his chess piece back and watch him take the Cowboys secondary to another level. Plus, the Cowboys are an excellent regular season team, so they’re a great bet to get into the postseason (where the results have been…not as impressive).

So, Leber makes a good point. If a cut does happen, Harrison Smith could end up down in Texas for the second chapter of his career. And while that’s not an outcome that Vikings fans would be thrilled about, perhaps there would be some solace in him not becoming a Green Bay Packer.

Rumor #2 — The Vikings Pushed Back the Dead Money Possibility … For Now

On Monday, February 19th, the dead money pile in Minnesota was supposed to see a major addition.

Marcus Davenport’s contract was going to void, meaning the $6.8 million in projected dead money would become a reality for the Vikings’ budget. Currently, the Vikings are sitting on roughly $3.3 million in dead money, so officially tossing the Davenport number onto the pile would have pushed things beyond $10 million in inaccessible cap space.

Clearly, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wasn’t willing to go down without a fight, so the GM finagled a solution that involves kicking the void date back until March 13th.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers place kicker Eddy Pineiro (4) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The update arrived courtesy of ESPN’s Kevin Seifert: “Update: The Vikings re-negotiated the void date on Marcus Davenport’s deal this weekend. It now matches the expiration date for the deals of Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter (3/13). A little more time to see if there is any common ground. Davenport’s deal will NOT void today.”

Part of what makes the Seifert news notable is that Minnesota apparently hasn’t given up hope of once again working alongside Davenport. The talented pass rusher is still only 27 and has the capacity to be excellent; the major problem is that injuries have often undercut his ability to stay on the field. Many assumed it was only a matter of time before the edge rusher would hit the open market as Minnesota pivoted toward other options at the position.

Kicking back the void date, though, suggests that the Vikings have genuine interest in seeing the relationship continue.

Even more notable is that moving things to the 13th means both Minnesota and Davenport will get a shot at seeing what the rest of the NFL thinks the defender is worth. On the 11th, teams can reach verbal agreements with soon-to-be free agents since legal tampering begins. Any chance Davenport sees what’s available from March 11th-13th before deciding that the best move is to return to the Vikings on a modest deal?

Rumor #3 — NFL Free Agency is Getting a Talent Boost

Indeed. In the coming days and weeks, the NFL’s teams are going to be getting their finances in order. Translation: players are going to be cut.

The Patriots, for instance, have begun clearing out older players as the Jerod Mayo era gets underway. Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, safety Adrian Phillips, and special teams stud Matthew Slater are all moving on from New England (with Slater retiring, not being cut).

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Oct 22, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Buffalo Bills running back James Cook (4) runs against New England Patriots defensive end Lawrence Guy Sr. (93) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Look around at the rest of the NFL, though, and you’ll see plenty of other teams with significant work ahead. One thinks of a team like the Los Angeles Chargers as one that’s worth monitoring since Jim Harbaugh just took over and their budget sits at more than $35.5 million in the red. And while the Chargers are a bit of an extreme example, the NFL has a whopping eleven teams that are projected to be over the cap.

So, keep an eye on free agency. An already intriguing cluster of players is going to grow more varied and deep before March 11th arrives.

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

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.