Vikings GM Has Been Hard at Work Rebuilding Team’s Middle Class

in 2023 Offseason
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Notably, Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has only a trio of Vikings carrying cap charges that surpass $10 million in 2024: RT Brian O’Neill ($23M), TE T.J. Hockenson ($14M), and CB Byron Murphy Jr. ($10.9M).

Every other player is down below the notable threshold.

Now, there’s some nuance needed. Justin Jefferson is seeing his cap charge in 2024 come in at roughly $8.6 million because it’s backloaded in a major way. Before long, he’ll be commanding cap hits that resemble QB money. So, too, will Christian Darrisaw see his cap charges get a boost and Jonathan Greenard’s four-year, $76 million deal begins with a modest cap hit. Even still, the overall approach is evident: assemble a lot of good players while kicking the can down the road with the elite ones.

The Vikings GM and Minnesota’s Middle Class

Toss a bit more nuance into the mix.

Currently, the Vikings are working on digesting north of $57 million in dead cap space. That’s a major reason why the team is so light on players clearing the $10 million threshold. Underneath that monstrous dead money mountain is Kirk Cousins’ $28.5 million in dead cap and then Danielle Hunter’s, which is close to $15 million.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Oct 29, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) strip-sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) in the game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

One thinks, though, of a decision Minnesota didn’t make as being illustrative of the point.

Going into free agency, DT Christian Wilkins looked like a top target for Minnesota. He plays a position of need and offers elite production. He has a connection to Brian Flores, too. The issue? He became a Raider, not a Viking.

After the meat and potatoes of free agency took place, Kevin O’Connell even alluded to missing on a DT in free agency, a brief word that may be connected to the former Dolphin.

Las Vegas landed the stud defender for a four-year pact that tips the scales at $110 million. Nothing middle class about that deal, folks. Minnesota’s four-year, $76 million deal for Greenard looks much more modest in comparison.

Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (94) takes on the field prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

In 2024, Wilkins is coming in at a $10.3 million cap charge. From 2025 onward, the number soars to being above $30 million (and that’s even with the edge getting taken off with a void year in 2028).

Meanwhile, the Vikings GM is moving ahead with a lead defensive tackle in Harrison Phillips who is going into the final season of his three-year deal from back in 2022. Horrible Harry is seeing the largest cap hit of that agreement hit the books, but it still comes in at just $8.83 million.

The Vikings have seven players in the $5,000,000 to $9,999,999 range for 2024 cap hits: Phillips, Jefferson, Harrison Smith, Josh Oliver, Garrett Bradbury, Jonathan Greenard, and Sam Darnold.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Chicago Bears running back Roschon Johnson (23) runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Move down a bit further and there’s a massive cluster of players in the $1,500,000 to $4,999,999 range. Guys like Aaron Jones, Andrew Van Ginkel, Brandon Powell, Johnny Mundt, Blake Brandel, Jordan Addison, Blake Cashman, and C.J. Ham (among others) are within this range.

Again, there are reasons for all of this. The dead money is a factor and players like Darrisaw, Greenard, and Jefferson will soon see their cap hits explode. Even still, another major factor is that Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been trying to create a strong middle class on his team.

The Vikings are working with roughly $26 million in cap space, a number that’s going to decrease once J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner sign their deals.

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.