Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The first guest post contributed by Seth Forst was quite well received and he’s decided to add a second contribution.  Again, we are usually trying to encourage new writers to develop their skills via guest posts here at VT, so be sure to leave Seth your feedback in the comments section.

His second article focuses on free agency, which we’ve touched on quite a bit here over the last week, and he does a nice job breaking down some different aspects.  If you notice some discrepancies between his information and what we’ve already presented here at VT, please understand that the free agent status of every single player isn’t fully known yet, as the season isn’t yet over.  For the sake of understanding the source, Seth used Spotrac for his research.

Enjoy!

2015 Vikings Free Agent Primer

By Seth Forst

With the end of every NFL season, fan bases from Philly to Kansas City to Oakland are filled with a renewed sense of hope. “This will be the offseason that changes everything”, we all convince ourselves. Alas, it’s been 53 seasons of Viking football, and those hopes and dreams have yet to come to fruition. Nevertheless, the Vikings will begin season number 54 much the same as they’ve always done, and the Vikings fan base will invest in the same hopes and dreams as in so many seasons gone by.

Fortunately, and as has been the case recently, the Vikings are in decent shape from a salary cap perspective. I thought now would be as good a time as any to take a look at which Vikings will be hitting free agency this March, and which are currently still under contract, as well as how these players will affect the Vikings cap situation. All cap information is courtesy of Spotrac.com.

Projected Adjusted Salary Cap: $138,600,000
Active Contracts: $130,232,685
Dead Money: $266,728
Projected Cap Space: $8,100,587

Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA)

Name

Position

Christian Ponder

QB

Jerome Felton*

FB

Corey Wooton

DE

Cullen Loeffler

LS

Tom Johnson

DT

Jasper Brinkley

LB

Vladimir Ducasse

G

Joe Berger

OL

Justin Trattou

DE

Restricted Free Agents (RFA)

Name

Position

Mike Harris

T

Dom DeCicco

LB

Matt Asiata

HB

Josh Samuda

G

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFA)

Name

Position

Ahmad Dixon

S

Players Under Contract for 2015

QB

Name

Cap Hit

Matt Cassel

$4,750,000

Teddy Bridgewater

$1,556,705

HB

Name

Cap Hit

Adrian Peterson

$15,400,000

Ben Tate

$2,950,000

Jerick McKinnon

$648,750

Joe Banyard

$585,000

TE

Name

Cap Hit

Kyle Rudolph

$6,550,000

Rhett Ellison

$735,146

Chase Ford

$585,000

FB

Name

Cap Hit

Jerome Felton*

$2,500,000

Zach Line

$585,000

WR

Name

Cap Hit

Greg Jennings

$11,000,000

Cordarelle Patterson

$1,969,377

Jarius Wright

$765,027

Charles Johnson

$510,000

Adam Thielen

$510,000

OT

Name

Cap Hit

Phil Loadholt

$6,750,000

Matt Kalil

$6,290,644

Carter Bykowski

$510,000

Austin Wentworth

$510,000

Antonio Richardson

$510,000

OG

Name

Cap Hit

Brandon Fusco

$3,550,000

Charlie Johnson

$2,500,000

David Yankey

$561,725

C

Name

Cap Hit

John Sullivan

$5,750,000

DE

Name

Cap Hit

Everson Griffen

$8,200,000

Brian Robison

$5,450,000

Scott Crichton

$705,507

P

Name

Cap Hit

Jeff Locke

$631,048

DT

Name

Cap Hit

Linval Joseph

$4,600,000

Shariff Floyd

$2,202,600

Shamar Stephen

$526,287

LB

Name

Cap Hit

Chad Greenway

$8,800,000

Anthony Barr

$2,896,250

Gerald Hodges

$690,027

Audie Cole

$660,000

Michael Mauti

$600,682

Brandon Watts

$525,612

S

Name

Cap Hit

Harrison Smith

$2,271,355

Andrew Sendejo

$1,066,666

Robert Blanton

$712,763

Antone Exum

$538,947

CB

Name

Cap Hit

Captain Munnerlyn

$3,833,333

Xavier Rhodes

$2,129,046

Marcus Sherels

$1,250,000

Josh Robinson

$950,250

Shaun Prater

$660,000

Jabari Price

$525,455

K

Name

Cap Hit

Blair Walsh

$689,483

* Felton’s contract includes an option for him to void the final year of his contract (2015), thus he’s listed as under contract AND as an UFA.

Just glancing over the information, a few things to note:

– While we don’t have many notable free agents to resign this offseason, I am aware that a number of key contributors will be going into the final year of their contract next season (Harrison, Kalil, Blanton, Walsh, Robinson, Wright, Greenway). With Harrison, I’m absolutely certain they’ll at least pick up the built in, first round draft pick, fifth year option (barring a long term extension, which might make more sense). It will be interesting to see what they do with Kalil. In any case, my point being, we could see some of these guys get extensions this offseason, in order to lock them up for a few years. I always believe in the philosophy that you try to keep the guys you hit on in the draft, rewarding them for their play, and developing continuity within the organization. So, even though there aren’t many contracts expiring this year, I still think we could see some money spent on “in-house” guys this offseason.

– I mentioned above that Chad Greenway will be entering the final year of his contract. His cap number of $8,800,000 is awfully high. He may be one player worth approaching about taking a pay cut. If he won’t, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him released. Other players of note with high cap numbers, possibly worth looking into restructure and/or release are Adrian, Jennings, Charlie Johnson, Felton, Cassel, Ben Tate, and Robison. I’m very interested to see what happens on this front. I would guess they’re going to want to free up some cap space. 

– There are reports that the cap could be higher than the estimate produced by the NFL, which could obviously change the Vikings thoughts on whether they need to restructure or release certain players. 

– Jerome Felton has an option in his contract to void the final year of his deal, thus why he’s listed in the UFA section and as ‘under contract’. He would be a fool to void the deal, since he’d be unlikely to make that much on the open market. I consider him a prime candidate for restructure/release.

– What a bargain some of these guys are. Charles Johnson’s cap hit of $510,000 is peanuts, considering the way he has played lately. Jarius Wright at $765,027 is a great deal as well. If Teddy continues to trend the way he is lately…

– Everson Griffen is getting a lot of money, but he is certainly earning it in the first year of his contract. As the market for pass rushers grows over the next few years, he will actually be underpaid. His cap hit of 8,200,000 is currently 11th among all NFL defensive ends. The nice thing about the way his contract is structured, his cap hit doesn’t go up from its current number until the last year of the contract (2018), and even then, it only rises to 9,700,000. 

– As far as the UFAs go, I would think the Vikings will make a good faith effort to bring back Wooton, Tom Johnson, and Joe Berger. Johnson and Berger are getting up there in age, but they are important depth pieces. They should be able to be had at a fairly reasonable cost. I still think Wooton can be a valuable pass rusher, as part of a rotation. With nary a sack his year, he’s been a disappointment, but he’s only two seasons removed from a 7 sack season in Chicago and he is still only 27 years old. He should be cheap to retain. I’m curious to see what other UFAs they bring back. I assume most, if not all of the RFAs/ERFAs will be tendered.

– If Teddy really does turn out to be the real deal, it’ll be nice to have an established QB under contract for chicken scratch for a few years. That really provides roster/salary cap flexibility, a la the Seahawks the past three seasons with Russ Wilson.

 – Obviously some of it depends on how much cap room Spielman and company free up via cutting/restructuring, but I wouldn’t expect the Vikings to make much of a splash trying to sign other team’s UFAs. Those sort of big money signings seem to have a limited success rate (admittedly, this depends on how you determine success), and the Vikings have spent quite a bit of money taking this route in the past few seasons. I believe the Vikings will look to continue to build the core of their squad through the draft, and supplement with (hopefully) some intelligent, low cost, good value UFAs. I like to call those ‘James Ihedigbo type signings’.