Analysis

A Compromise for the Vikings Cap Problem

One that plans for the future while giving the present team another shot

The Minnesota Vikings are in a sticky situation. As it stands, the team is already $12 million over the cap for next season, and that’s before they even attempt to re-sign any of their 19 free agents. So, what can the team do, or what should they do? Below is my offseason plan that plans for the future while positioning the team for present-day success.

Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman, and the Vikings ownership (aka the Wilfs) must make some tough decisions in the coming months. The team is dead last in cap space (of any team in the NFL) for 2020, so these are the options I see available:

  1. Let as few free agents walk as possible, restructure and backload contracts to free up some money and make another run at the Super Bowl with the same core
  2. Let some free agents walk, cut/trade a couple of big-name players, spend any available money on free agent offensive linemen and hope to be a playoff team in 2020
  3. Let most free agents walk, cut or trade several big-name players, accumulate draft picks and save money while going into full rebuild mode

I think it would make the most sense for the team to go with option number two. Allow me to elaborate:

Option one would be incredibly difficult to pull off. The Vikings have a salary cap wizard in Rob Brzezinski, but even he would struggle to free up the kind of money it would take to re-sign most of Minnesota’s high profile free agents. Even if it were possible, perhaps by extending Kirk Cousins and backloading his contract, or restructuring several veterans, I think it would be a bad call.

As much as I love coach Zimmer and his defensive legion, he has sent basically the same cohort into battle for five years straight and been unsuccessful in getting to the big dance, aka the Super Bowl. As much as we hate to admit it, fan favorites like Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph, and Everson Griffen are starting to age, and I think more emphasis should be put on investing in the future Minnesota Vikings than trying to preserve the old gang.

Minnesota’s management should also be cautious not to swing the pendulum too far. Is this team going to change during the offseason? Almost certainly. Should Spielman scrap it, sell out, and build something brand new? Absolutely not. It’s not time to commit to a full rebuild, at least not yet. Despite what some may say, there is still a window of opportunity open for the Vikings, and they have plenty of talent to make another playoff run next year. Even our own fans like to rag on the team, but the Vikings have breached the postseason three times in five years, and that’s largely thanks to the continuity and leadership the team has in its older players. 

It’s important to keep veterans at certain positions, especially those where age is less of a factor (in my opinion, those positions may include safety, linebacker, or interior offensive line). So, option two seems like the obvious choice to me. To be specific, here are some of the things I would do this offseason as the Vikings general manager (more important moves have been bolded):

Losses/Money Savers

 

  • Cut or trade Linval Joseph to create cap space

 

  • Cut Xavier Rhodes to create cap space
  • Cut or trade Everson Griffen to create cap space
  • Cut Riley Reiff to create cap space
  • Cut Pat Elflein to create cap space

 

 

 

  • Let Trae Waynes walk

 

  • Let Mackensie Alexander walk

 

 

    • Let Andrew Sendejo walk
    • Let Ameer Abdullah walk
    • Let Dakota Dozier walk
    • Let Sean Mannion walk
    • Let Kentrell Brothers walk
    • Let Marcus Sherels walk

 

  • Let Jayron Kearse walk

 

  • Let Laquon Treadwell walk

 

Retentions/Money Spenders

 

  • Re-sign Anthony Harris

 

  • Re-sign Dan Bailey
  • Re-sign Britton Colquitt

 

 

    • Re-sign Rashod Hill
    • Re-sign Brett Jones

 

  • Re-sign Stephen Weatherly

 

  • Re-sign CJ Ham

 

 

  • Re-sign Eric Wilson

 

Draft Priorities in Order of Importance

 

  • Left Tackle

 

  • Corner

 

 

  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive Line
  • Left Guard
  • Backup Quarterback
  • Safety

 

Miscellaneous

  • Determine if Stefon Diggs WANTS to stay in MN

 

With this plan, the Vikings are losing five key defensive players, but retaining breakout safety Anthony Harris. He’s proven to be a quick learner and has a high football I.Q., so he should be a top priority. And, as mentioned earlier, Safety is a key position on defense that I believe can be played at an older age. Re-signing Stephen Weatherly also makes a lot of sense, as he will be inexpensive compared to Everson Griffen and is starting to hit his stride on the defensive line. He has also been touted as one of the smartest players on the team.

As for the offensive line, this plan would go into action with the intent of making either Dru Samia or Brett Jones the starting left guard, and focusing draft capital on a left tackle of the future to replace Riley Reiff. I think it’s too risky to attempt to move Reiff to guard this late in his career. The Vikings have attempted it in the past with players like Mike Remmers, and it just ended up hurting two positions.

As for the offense, assuming Diggs is willing to enthusiastically stay, this keeps almost the same skill players in town for Kirk Cousins to target. I think it is also more important than people think to retain CJ Ham, and not just because I’m also a Duluth native. If it weren’t for Ham, Dalvin Cook would not have had as fruitful of a season. As a fullback, he will also be relatively inexpensive.

On special teams, the Vikings finally found some consistent kicking and punting, so Britton Colquitt and Dan Bailey should be retained if possible.

Overall, the team would look a bit different and certainly be younger, but some change may not be a bad thing as the Vikings continue to claw at the Lombardi. This would be a nice first step towards a new era of Vikings football, but it still keeps enough of the experienced core together to make the 2020 postseason a realistic goal. Who knows how much of my plan Spielman will follow, but I’m excited to see how this all unfolds.

You can follow Reid Johnson on Twitter, Instagram, or subscribe for free to his personal Vikings blog, Purple Reign News, for more Minnesota content.

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7 Comments

  1. I would add Diggs to the list of people leaving. Can’t have a player om the team that is moody as hell without it affecting the team. Deep draft for Wide Outs!

  2. Exactly — Can’t have dissension on a team. Draft a wr in the later rounds. * Diggs himself was a 5th rounder…

  3. How about trading Diggs, 2021 RND1 & 2022 RND1 to the Giants to draft Tua at #4. Will still be able to win this year, then dump Cousin’s contract and reload around Tua. Might not be enough capital to make it happen, but I like the idea

  4. It is not that easy as saying we will draft at LT and the rookie performs at a high level. I look at this draft and I think there is 3 LT that have a better than average chance of starting and doing well their first year. At pick 25 not sure any of those 3 will be there. Then what? Maybe DT Javon Kinlaw falls to us. There is only one CB worthy of a 1st round grade and he will be gone by pick #4. No OG worthy of a 1st rounder this year.
    WR will be the best player on the board at 25 or QB Joran Love and I would love to see the Vikings pull the trigger on that pick.

  5. In my opinion Kyle Rudolph is overrated and expendable also way over paid expected to make 9.5 million 2020.
    Irv Smith Jr. has shown he can be a big time player.
    Also Tyler Conklin works well in a 2 tight end set Kubiak likes to run. Also David Morgan who was on the PUP list should return next year and is a very effective blocker. I know Rudolph made the big catch against New Orleans but hes not getting any younger.

  6. For what you could pay Javon Kearse he is I better bargain than what they would have to pay Harris. They came up together in the system and he isn’t that far behind. In fact he is a better Blitzer and tackler. I would rather have Harris because he is a ball hawk. But not for the money. Harrison Smith should be our top paid safety.

  7. I agree about Diggs. Once the Minn. miracle
    got in his head the brain cells started rotting!
    Next he will be doing something like bumping
    into traffic cops in downtown!!! Oh well maybe
    he will be a grown up sports reporter too
    someday!!!

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