Tuesday, July 7, 2015

steve hutchinson

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In an effort to shave nearly $10 million from their salary cap commitment, the Vikings will reportedly release starting guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera.  The decision, which plays to the notion that they would like a younger roster, was finalized on Saturday according to multiple reports.

Both players have struggled with injuries and seen their production slip in recent seasons, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Hutchinson is welcomed back under a greatly reduced contract.  He has stated his desire to play one more NFL season.

The Vikings have in-house options to fill the guard position that include Joe Berger, Brandon Fusco, Charlie Johnson, and possibly Chris DeGeare.  Additionally, there is a lot of talent expected to be available via free agency and the draft.

These moves are sure to fuel speculation that the Vikings would like to sign Carl Nicks.

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A week and a half ago we mentioned that Kevin Seifert of ESPN pegged the Vikings having $115.3 million in salaries due in 2012, leaving them with roughly $5 million in cap space.

Tom Pelissero has decided to pursue true numbers on his own and thinks the Vikings will begin the new league year with roughly double that amount of space.

Pelissero claims the Vikings have $112.4 million in salaries dedicated so far.  The salary cap number is calculated, however, using the top 51 salaries on any given roster which Pelissero puts at just over $110 million. 

Using a projected salary cap of $120.4 million, and an offset of unused cap space from last season, Pelissero concludes the Vikings will have slightly more than $10 million in cap space when the new league year begins on March 13th.

Pelissero goes on to project a total cap savings of $13 million if the team decides to part ways with veterans guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera, in addition to veteran cornerback Cedric Griffin.  Even Hutchinson seems to realize his cap number is likely to cause the team to ask him to restructure or be cut.

“I know what the cap situation is and all that, but it’s out of my control,” said Hutchinson in a recent interview.  “Any player has to worry about that in the NFL.”

One of the greatest mysteries surrounding this offseason is how things will shake out one year following the new Collective Bargaining Agreement being put into place.

Kevin Seifert over at ESPN has just about figured it all out… or at least seems close.

The NFL salary cap is not expected to grow much from where it was last year, which was $120 million, and the highest number I have seen is $125 million.

According to Seifert, the Vikings currently have a cap total of $115.3 million, which doesn’t give them a whole lot of spending cash considering they are expected to have a large class of rookies in need of a contract.

The top tier free agents of 2012, such as Vincent Jackson or Carl Nicks, will not get the kind of money they are looking for from Minnesota unless the team figures out a way to clear up significant cap space.  This could happen via releasing expensive veterans and/or restructuring contracts.

Either way, if the Vikings are going to make moves like that, we should start hearing about them pretty soon.  Keep an eye on Steve Hutchinson and Kevin Williams.

[NOTE FROM ADAM:  This is another installation of my position-by-position breakdown of the Vikings offseason.  You can click the links to view previous installments:  The Passers, The Runners, The Wide Outs, and The Tight Ends.]

Here we finally have an edition of “Offseason Preview” that is almost certain to spark every fans interest.  Sure, the Vikings are likely to pursue upgrades at the receiver position, but the left tackle spot on this Vikings roster is bound to be the topic of conversation between now and April… and probably well into the 2012 season, too.

Let’s take a closer look.

Whether you believe it was prompted by genuine concern or self-serving interests, it is hard to deny that the NFL has raised awareness about the detrimental impact that chronic concussions can have on the life of current and former football players.

The reaction to all these findings over the last few years has varied from player to player, but as it stands now, the Vikings have two players that are weighing their futures as NFL players because of the concussions they have sustained.

Leslie Frazier recently indicated that guard Steve Hutchinson has had a hard time shaking the effects of a concussion suffered on December 18th against New Orleans.  That concussion caused Hutchinson to finish the season on the injured reserve for his second consecutive season.

“I’m hoping that things will get better soon for him with the concussions for sure,” Leslie Frazier said last week. “That’s something that I’m sure he and his family will discuss, what his future is and how much longer he wants to play professional football.”

Hutchinson has been privately telling teammates that his plan was to play out his current contract, which will expire after next season, and then retire.  Hutchinson’s contract will pay him $7 million in 2012, has a no-trade clause, and at age 34 one can’t help but wonder if the Vikings wouldn’t view an early retirement as a positive thing for the regressing veteran.

Leslie Frazier sounds as though he is happy to have Hutchinson, who lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and two children, return for another year.

“He’s still a guy who can play and be a positive addition to your football team,” Frazier said. “He’s got some decisions that he’ll have to make after the season is over.”

As of yesterday, however, any decisions regarding the team’s commitment to Hutchinson is out of Frazier’s hands and placed squarely in the lap of newly appointed G.M. Rick Spielman.

Unlike Hutchinson, safety Husain Abdullah is set to become an unrestricted free agent at age 26, but his concussion issues have him contemplating whether or not he even should continue to play in the NFL.

“I definitely want to play,” Abdullah recently said. “I’ve been playing (football) since I was 8-years old. To have it taken away from me when I can still play that would really hurt. … But if the doctor comes and tells me something I don’t want to hear, then definitely I’ve got to start putting the family first.”

“As of right now, since I feel good, it’s not overly concerning,” he said, “but at the same time you look at all the former players and what they’re going through now and you’re starting to see a lot more stuff pop up about concussions.”

“Even in other sports. I’ve been watching hockey as well, seeing their stuff. I’ll just try to find out more information about it and see how it is for me. I know a lot of people have (concussions) and some people it affects greatly, some people it doesn’t. I’ll just try to figure out how it’s affecting me and then move forward.”

The 2008 undrafted safety out of Washington State has gradually climbed his way to the top of the Vikings depth chart, but his concussions landed him on the injured reserve and halted contract talks that had been taking place between him and the Vikings.

Abdullah may have to decide if he is still going to play professional football, but he has made it clear that if he is playing he wants to be a Viking.

“Of course,” he said. “They gave me a shot when nobody else did, so I’m definitely a Vikings fan and I’d like to be a Viking as long as they’ll have me.”

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