MINNEAPOLIS — With Chad Greenway‘s one-year, $2.75 million contract now official for 2016, the Minnesota Vikings figure to be done with most of their pre-draft roster construction. And while they’ll have to be selective in what they do, the Vikings retain enough salary-cap space to handle other business between now and the end of the 2016 season.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Vikings have $10.16 million left in cap space for 2016 after Greenway’s deal hit the books on Wednesday. They’ll need a chunk of that cap space to sign draft picks this spring, but the Vikings should have several million left for roster additions or a contract extension.
Safety Harrison Smith is the player who would seem most likely to get a new contract before the end of 2016, though Smith’s deal wouldn’t necessarily have to affect this year’s cap. The Vikings could let Smith play on his $5.278 million fifth-year option figure in 2016, and start a new contract after this season. They could start a deal for Smith this season, and structure it in a way that reduces his cap figure for 2016, but that might be unlikely, considering how the Vikings usually prefer roster bonuses with base salary guarantees to hefty signing bonuses that linger on the cap for the life of the contract.
If the Vikings don’t see an immediate need, the best move might be to carry some money over into 2017. Smith will likely be playing on a new deal by then, and the Vikings will have had to make a decision on left tackle Matt Kalil‘s future. They’ll also have to pay cornerback Xavier Rhodes, either on a new deal or a fifth-year option, and they could have to make a similar decision on defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Slot cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is headed for free agency next spring, too, and if he has another solid season, the Vikings could look to lock up the 28-year-old for a couple more years rather than letting him get to the open market.
There are enough big bills coming due that it can never hurt the Vikings to squirrel away some cap space. They’ll get some after this year if veterans such as Greenway and Terence Newman depart, and right tackle Phil Loadholt‘s contract expires after 2016. But with young players coming up for extensions, and a team that could be on the verge of getting over the top with a key roster addition or two, now is a good time for the Vikings to put Rob Brzezinski’s shrewd cap-management skills to work.