By Necessity, The Vikings’ First Defensive Domino Will Fall on Monday

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) pressures Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Impatient Vikings fans will soon get some news. The Vikings’ first defensive domino is going to fall in a few days.

According to Over the Cap, Marcus Davenport’s deal will void on Monday, February 19th. In other words, the contract will come to an end, so the $6.8 million in dead money that’s just a hypothetical will become real. The dead money can only be moved from the 2024 budget if Minnesota extends the talented yet injury prone pass rusher prior to the fateful day.

The Vikings’ First Defensive Domino Will Fall on Monday

Not too long ago, Jason Fitzgerald took some time to breakdown the NFL’s void-year contracts that are soon coming to an end. Leading the way up top are the Vikings with Kirk Cousins, Danielle Hunter, and Marcus Davenport.

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

“Basically, the void year is a fake contract year used for the sole purpose of parking salary cap charges,” Fitzgerald explains, “and when the contract expires whatever cap numbers are in those void years accelerate to the current season.”

With Davenport and the Vikings specifically, there’s a chance to save quite a bit of money: “Finally the team could prevent $5.1 million from accelerating from Marcus Davenport’s contract.” The $5.1 million would get shaved off due to being able to keep stretching out the signing bonus for a bit longer. But, crucially, some of that open room would get gobbled up by whatever new salary was committed to the pass rusher.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass as Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) rush during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In theory, the Vikings could do both. Davenport’s deal could void, meaning Minnesota would have to accept the $6.8 million in dead cap space. The defender could then venture into free agency where he would have the possibility to … re-sign in Minnesota.

But while that’s technically possible, the financial component of things would make no sense. If the plan is to keep employing Davenport, the Vikings will come to an agreement before the void date.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will thus be looking for a firm decision by Monday. And, to be sure, there’s a pretty good chance that the powerful people in Eagan already know what they’re going to do.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Signing Marcus Davenport last offseason made a pile of sense. At just 26, Davenport offered tremendous potential to be a pass-rushing solution for not just 2023 but years to come. He was chosen 14th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft and seemingly the only thing getting in his way was health, or lack thereof.

A prove-it deal made sense all around. The Vikings took a home-run swing on a young defender at a premium position for relatively cheap; meanwhile, the defender secured a reasonably beefy contract for a single season with the hope that stacking up stats in 2023 would lead to a gigantic contract the following offseason.

NFL: International Series-Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is pressured by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) and defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) during an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The issue, of course, is that Davenport again succumbed to injury, leading to career-lows in games played (4) and snaps (118). His season finished with 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 QB hits, and 2 tackles for a loss on the statistical ledger.

Unless there’s an extension prior to the void date, Marcus Davenport will be playing elsewhere for the 2024 regular season.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and 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.