Let’s take a trip, shall we? Don’t worry, you needn’t grab your COVID mask (or for those of you who don’t believe in that sort of thing, your ‘The Earth is 5,000 years old’ trucker hat) for this one as you’ll simply be following my reasoning on this one (actually for those of you who don’t believe in masks, maybe you should sit this one out).
First, as many of you who recognize my name/content know, I’m not a big fan of current and (if I’m right) soon-to-be-former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been okay… But that’s about it.
For those that don’t recall, you can take my word or check with William Hill Sportsbook IL and see that the Vikings have been a mostly mediocre every-other season playoff team despite Zimmer being handed every single thing a head coach could ever want.
Based on the title here, I’m sure you’re thinking that I’m somehow blaming Zimmer on or for 2020 and the impact COVID had. I’m not. Instead, I’m looking at the impact that COVID will have on the 2021 salary cap and what that’ll mean for the Vikings and the rest of the league.
Namely, that the Vikings’ predicted 2021 bounce back (which many thought would happen by virtue of Zimmer’s defense getting healthier) won’t happen as the team will have to cut bait with a good chunk of veterans. Not only that, but because of the COVID cap situation teams that have salary cap space will be able to essentially create the NFL version of a superteam.
Imagine what the Colts could do? Or more aptly (for this article) a team like the Rams just did by adding Matthew Stafford? Or veterans wanting to join the Bucs to get a chance at a ring with Brady and company?
Not only will the Vikings not be as improved (or improved at all) on defense because of their financial situation, they’ll also have a ton of teams to contend with in the NFC for a playoff spot.
Despite his recent extension, it was clear after right-hand man George Edwards was fired that the ownership of the Vikings expected fast improvement by Zimmer and company. He bought time with the massive 15-pick haul he helped oversee in 2020, and more with the COVID/injury related issues the team faced last season.
While I am still pointing to COVID as a culprit here, I doubt that’ll matter much to an ownership group that has given Zimmer a lot of money, support and patience for the “success” of getting embarrassed in the playoffs every other season.
It’ll be hard to get out of this salary cap quagmire even with Cousins potentially restructuring as Danielle Hunter needs a massive pay increase, and I’d be surprised if Zimmer would okay the team moving on from Anthony Barr.
I could be wrong, and I would love to be, but I just don’t see any way around this especially as the team has stuck continuity at offensive coordinator (which means we can’t expect for some young mastermind to come on and convince Zimmer to stop being so risk averse).