4 Moves the Vikings Can Make to Free Up a Huge Amount of Cap Space

NFL: Combine
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Over the past year, much has been made of the Vikings cap space heading into the 2024 offseason.

Well, now we’ve arrived at the offseason, and indeed, the Vikings do hold the 12th-most salary cap space in the NFL with a sizeable $36,381,185 to work with, per Over the Cap. However, the Vikings can balloon their cap space even further. Here is a look at four moves the Vikings can make to free up even more space this spring.

4 Moves the Vikings Can Make to Free Up Cap Space

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

By making the following moves, the Vikings would be able to nearly double their salary cap space (all numbers are again via OTC):

  • Restructure T.J. Hockenson’s contract ($7.1 million saved)
  • Restructure Byron Murphy’s contract (~$5.4 million saved)
  • Restructure Brian O’Neill’s contract (~$8.9 million saved)
  • Cut Harrison Smith (~$11.3 million saved)

If the Vikings pulled the trigger on each of these moves, their salary cap space would go up to $70,309,051. As things currently stand, this would give them the fourth-most cap space going into free agency behind only the following teams:

  1. Washington Commanders ($75,535,534)
  2. Houston Texans ($71,438,770)
  3. Tennessee Titans ($71,055,779)

The most obvious move here is restructuring Hockenson’s deal. The tight end put together a spectacular season in 2023, totaling 95 receptions for 960 yards and five touchdowns. However, he is very likely to miss a good chunk of the 2023 season because of the ACL and MCL tears that he suffered in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Lightening his current cap hit of $14.1 million in 2024 would push some money into future years on his contract, yes, but it would also free up financial flexibility for the upcoming free agency period.

It should also be noted that these moves would not dip Minnesota below a whopping $150 million in cap space for 2025, so they should not impact potential contract extensions for players like Justin Jefferson or Christian Darrisaw.

Of course, the move that would be disheartening for many Vikings fans would be parting ways with Harrison Smith. The safety has been a crucial part of Minnesota’s defense ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

That being said, Smith is set to enter his age-35 season in 2024, which is never a good thing for an NFL safety, particularly a player set to carry a $19.2 million cap hit. At the very least, Minnesota should approach the veteran about taking a pay cut this year.

Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) warms up before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the day, folks, the point here is that the Vikings have multiple routes to free up a substantial amount of salary cap space as free agency inches closer in March. Minnesota has done a great job of setting themselves up to be big spenders this offseason, and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said himself that this is a big offseason for the Vikings in terms of their roster construction.

No options should be left unturned when it comes to freeing up enough money in order to get this roster back to being a playoff caliber team in 2024. There are plenty of quality free agents for Minnesota to target this year, and they need to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them.

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 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.