The Minnesota Vikings are concocting something behind the scenes as the offseason puzzle becomes clearer. To date, the Vikings have acquired defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, cornerback Patrick Peterson, linebacker Nick Vigil, and defensive end Stephen Weatherly via free agency.
More new faces are on the way.
Multiple Vikings-related personalities reported on Monday evening that Anthony Barr’s contractual restructure was more generous to the team that was led on last week.
The full terms on Anthony Barr’s restructure are in, and they’re different than what had been previously reported. Barr’s cap number for 2021 is only $6.107M, and his base salary drops to just $1 million (thread)
— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingStrib) March 22, 2021
And, clicking on the above-referenced tweet gives more detail on the prognosis of this move.
Long story short — with Barr’s deal and Kyle Rudolph’s post-June 1st cap maneuvering, Minnesota is inching closer to $10 million in cap space. That means that one big-name player or two mid-tier personnel are soon heading northward.
The possibilities are limitless with this newfound money.
The Vikings have been linked to Orlando Brown trade talks. He’s an offensive tackle from the Baltimore Ravens that wants to sever ties with the other purple franchise because he wants to play left guard, not right guard. At the moment, he is “stuck” behind the All-Pro Ronnie Stanley — which is less than ideal for Brown as Stanley isn’t going anywhere. The downside here is that Minnesota would likely have to part ways with its 2021 1st-Round pick to land Brown. Too, there are the questions about acclimating Brown to a zone-blocking scheme.
General Manager Rick Spielman may also target tackles Eric Fisher or Russell Okung. Both men are free agents, and both will necessitate a large average annual salary.
Then, there is the more basic strategy — find some damn guards. As of now, the Vikings do not have a starting guard on the depth chart, unless Ezra Cleveland is moved back to his organic position. In 2020, Cleveland played guard as the now-departed Riley Reiff locked down left tackle for the entire season. Names to monitor for guard with the Vikings cap space: Forrest Lamp, Nick Easton, Austin Blythe, and Trai Turner.
Next, there is the Richard Sherman rumor “that won’t go away.”
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) March 21, 2021
The Sherman speculation is befuddling because he will not play for bottom-dollar, and the Vikings already employ Cameron Dantzler, Patrick Peterson, Mike Hughes, and Jeff Gladney. Head coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t really “need” another corner — particularly when the offense has no starting guards.
The franchise could also be bold and sign a bonafide WR3 — a spot the Vikings have ignored for almost a half-decade. Players like Larry Fitzgerald, Golden Tate, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Willie Snead remain available.
Or — Spielman could silence the Danielle Hunter underpaid-fodder and secure the 26-year-old defensive end well into his 30s. Hunter earns significantly less than his worth, but he is waltzing into 2021 with a wait-and-see outlook concerning his injury recovery. Hunter missed all of 2020. Regardless, the Barr move might be cap-clearance for a deserved Hunter extension.
Minnesota might still do something really funky that no one sees coming — like most of their free-agent signings this offseason. Men like Jadeveon Clowney, T.Y. Hilton, Aldon Smith are unsigned.
Finally, most folks theorize the team addressing the starting safety [opposite Harrison Smith] in the 2021 NFL Draft. Young safeties can often be placed in a starting lineup without immense fear of failure (unlike positions that demand more maturity). If the Vikings have no interest in that, then Malik Hooker, Kenny Vaccaro, and Tre Boston are free-agent names that can be tossed in the mix.
All in all, the money is freeing up. Something is brewing. Maybe even an Eric Wilson reunion.