Vikings Offseason Preview: In-House Free Agents
Between the NFL Combine (February 26th-March 4th) and the 2019 NFL Draft (April 25th-27th) comes an important step in every team’s offseason process; the re-signing of internal personnel. Last season, the Vikings created headlines during an exciting in-house free agency period, freeing up over $50 million in salary cap space after letting three prominent quarterbacks walk, along with running back Jerick McKinnon.
The team used a lot of that money to extend some key players and bring in some of the top available free agents.
While this offseason will undoubtedly provide another much-publicized stretch in early March, this time around, the acquisitions may not be as glamorous as yesteryear. Why? The Vikings are strapped for cash, and they’ll need to be strategic in their spending.
When the new league year begins on March 13th, the Vikings will have a projected $6.9 million in cap space according to OverTheCap.com. While that number is fluid and doesn’t necessarily make retaining the team’s top free agents impossible, it makes it interesting to say the least.
One thing working in the team’s favor is the number of large contracts that need to be handed out. Two immediately come to mind. Anthony Barr and Sheldon Richardson are the obvious headliners. Will the team be able to retain the two stout defenders while also being able to improve the offensive line, fill out the rest of the roster and sign draft picks? That’s the No. 1 question currently surrounding the Minnesota Vikings.
While Barr and Richardson are the main talking points, there are many more important decisions that need to be made. With contract deadlines approaching in just over a month, let’s take a look at what lies ahead as the team prepares to mold its 2019 roster.
Unrestricted free agents
- Anthony Barr – 26 – LB
- Sheldon Richardson – 28 – DT
- Latavius Murray – 29 – RB
- Tom Compton – 29 – G
- Dan Bailey – 31 – K
- Nick Easton – 26 – OL
- Brett Jones – 27 – OL
- Marcus Sherels – 31 – PR
- Ameer Abdullah – 25 – RB
- Tom Johnson – 34 – DT
- George Iloka – 28 – S
- Aldrick Robinson – 30 – WR
- Trevor Siemian – 27 – QB
Restricted free agents
Restricted free agents (RFA) are players with three accrued seasons. The current franchise is given right of first refusal on any offered contract. Depending on the level of the tender offered, the current team may receive draft pick compensation for losing said player. Possible tenders include first-round, second-round, original-round, and right of first refusal only. Here are the projected amounts of the 2019 RFA tenders:
- First Round = $4.429 million
- Second Round = $3.110 million
- Original Round = $2.035 million
Exclusive rights free agents
Exclusive rights free agents (ERFA) are players with two or fewer accrued seasons. They must sign with the current team or become an unrestricted free agent if they are not offered a contract by their current team.
Here are dates when certain clauses in player’s contracts will trigger for Vikings personnel this offseason, per OTC:
|March 12th||Andrew Sendejo||Deadline to exercise 2019 option||$5.45 million|
|March 13th||Trae Waynes||Base salary becomes fully guaranteed||$9.069 million|
|March 15th||Everson Griffen||2019 salary becomes fully guaranteed||$10.9 million|
|March 15th||Linval Joseph||Base salary becomes fully guaranteed||$8.9 million|
|March 15th||Xavier Rhodes||Base salary becomes fully guaranteed||$10.4 million|
|March 15th||Eric Kendricks||Base salary becomes fully guaranteed||$4.15 million|
|March 15th||Stefon Diggs||Base salary becomes fully guaranteed||$8.9 million|
|March 16th||Danielle Hunter||Base salary becomes fully guaranteed||$9.9 million|
|May 2nd||Laquon Treadwell||Deadline to exercise fifth-year option||$1.8 million|
Possible cap casualties or restructure candidates
The lack of cap space is a major motivator in the Vikings approaching some of their veterans regarding restructuring their contracts. Restructuring a player’s deal generally results in some sort of immediate signing bonus for the player while the majority of their cap hit is spread across the remaining years of the player’s contract. This gives the team immediate cap relief.
The Vikings have utilized this strategy quite often in recent years with players like Latavius Murray, Brian Robison, Jarius Wright and Adrian Peterson. This offseason, several players could be asked by the team to re-work their deals, including but limited to:
- Kyle Rudolph – 29 – TE: $7.625M cap hit – zero dead money = Saves $7.625M
- Everson Griffen – 31 – DE: $11.9M cap hit – $1.2M dead money = Saves $10.7M
- Riley Reiff – 30 – LT: $11.7M cap hit – $6.6M dead money = Saves $5.1M
- Mike Remmers – 29 – OL: $6.35M cap hit – $1.8M dead money = Saves $4.55M
- Andrew Sendejo – 31 – S: $5.5M cap hit – zero dead money = Saves $5.5M
- Linval Joseph – 30 – DT: $10.7M cap hit – $3.6M dead money = Saves $7.1M
- Harrison Smith – 30 – S: $10.75M cap hit – $4M dead money = Saves $6.75M
- Xavier Rhodes – 28 – CB: $13.4M cap hit – $7.2M dead money = Saves $6.2M
Please note the amount saved is how much cap space the team would receive by cutting the player. The amount saved on a restructure depends on the specific structure that’s agreed upon between the player and team.
The last two years the Vikings have extended Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph, Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Stefon Diggs. Is it finally time for Anthony Barr to receive his? And what about 2020 free agents like:
- Trae Waynes – 26 – CB
- Mackensie Alexander – 25 – CB
- Stephen Weatherly – 24 – DE
- Jayron Kearse – 24 – S
- David Morgan – 25 – TE
With all the decisions facing the team in the upcoming months, it’s shaping up to be an exciting offseason for the Vikings. What are your thoughts on how the front office should address in-house free agency? Leave your comments below.