Free agency is right around the corner and one of the biggest offseason mysteries seems to now be resolved.
The NFL Players Association has notified NFL agents that the 2013 salary cap is to be at exactly $123 million, which is only a 1.7% increase from last year. The formulas, accounting, nuances, and calculations that go into figuring out salary caps is a bear, but 1500 ESPN‘s Tom Pelissero has enough general details to give us an idea of where the Vikings stand.
The salaries that count against the cap are the accumulation of the top 51 salaries on the roster. That is important to keep in mind, as often fans think signing street free agents or undrafted rookies is a waste of cap space when they may not actually count against the cap at all.
The cap is set at $123 million and the Vikings have $118 committed to their top 51 contracts, which leaves about $5 million left over. However, a few factors are going to boost that number. They have about half a million, actually just a little under, of dead money charged against them.
First, the Vikings received a $1.643 cap credit as a result of last offseason’s penalties against the Redskins, Cowboys and Saints for how they conducted business during the uncapped year. Secondly, the Vikings chose to carry over about $8 million in unused space from last season.
That means, as of today, the Vikings are expected to have about $14.2 million in cap space when free agency opens. That number puts the Vikings a little better than average compared to the other 31 franchises and in decent shape to make a run at a player or two.
That number could actually grow significantly, as Pelissero points out, by making some moves concerning their current roster. The team is expected to jettison wide receiver Michael Jenkins, who is owed a $2.425 million roster bonus on March 16th, which would clear about $3.25 million in additional cap space.
Also, veterans like Jared Allen, Antoine Winfield, and Kevin Williams are certain to at least be approached about contract restructurings that could free up a significant amount of cash. Jared Allen alone carries a cap number in excess of $17 million.
General Manager Rick Spielman has gone out of his way to temper the expectations of fans when it comes to free agency, claiming that the team is likely to be about as inactive as last year. That is tough to believe when looking at the cap space available to them and some of their pressing needs.
Maybe, just maybe, the Vikings are planning to create more of a free agency stir than what is anticipated.
Of course, they may also just be trying to free up enough space to finally make Percy Harvin a happy camper.