The Vikings Still Have Cap Space Left. Here’s What They Can Do with It

A 2022 Draft Theory: Trading for the Heck of It
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

As this article is being written, the Minnesota Vikings cap space is in a relatively strong position. They have around $10.9 million left for this year, and per Over the Cap, that ranks 21st in the NFL. Of course, it has to be kept in mind that there are still two draft picks yet to be signed, second-round picks Andrew Booth Jr. and Ed Ingram. Even after these two are signed though, the Vikings will have a healthy amount of money to work with. Here are a few options for the remaining purple cash.

Find Another Offensive Lineman

Jan 2, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Daryl Williams (75) following the game against the
Atlanta Falcons at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After years of trying to string together patchy offensive lines by switching tackles to guard and guards to center, the Vikings finally seem committed to finding the best possible options at each position. Currently, the races for center and right guard seem wide open for the taking. Why not throw another name into the mix? For example, JC Tretter is still out there.

Or, even moving to the outside of the offensive line, Minnesota could add some depth to the tackle positions. Brian O’Neill has dodged the injury bug to this point in his career, but in the NFL it can strike at any time. And Christian Darrisaw missed portions of training camp and the regular season because of injury troubles last year.

Daryl Williams is a guy I would keep an eye on. He traditionally has played at right tackle throughout his career, but he has the ability to switch inside to either guard spot. During 2021, he spent a good chunk of time at right guard for the Buffalo Bills. The Vikings could use a guy with that type of versatility.

Another Receiving Tight End Would Be Nice

New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph. © Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The tight end position is a major cause for concern for the Vikings right now, at least in my humble opinion. Irv Smith seemed like he was on the verge of a breakout season in 2021 after Kyle Rudolph departed for the New York Giants, but that opportunity was taken away from him when he tore his meniscus. Tyler Conklin filled in nicely in Smith’s stead, but he is now a New York Jet.

Behind Smith, Johnny Mundt has 10 career receptions. The combination of Ben Ellefson, Zach Davidson, and Zach Muse have one. Minnesota seems confident that they can rely on Mundt to provide some sort of receiving threat in 2022, but I would feel much better if another receiving threat was put into the mix.

Funny enough, Kyle Rudolph has made headlines in recent weeks as that potential player. Eric Ebron is another name floated around Vikings circles. I’m going to throw one more player into the hat: Jimmy Graham. Graham will be entering his age-36 season in 2022, but as recently as 2020, he caught 8 TDs for the Bears. Even last year, he was more of a receiving threat than Mundt ever has been in his career.

Improve EDGE Depth

Everson Griffen
Dec 30, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during a game between the Minnesota
Vikings and Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, Minnesota has a pair of stars at EDGE in Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith. On the surface, this is an awesome duo that could terrorize the division for years to come. That said, each of them has a history of debilitating injuries that could flare up at any point.

Even more concerning is that the group behind these two carries much uncertainty. DJ Wonnum has been regularly overpowered in the run game, and Patrick Jones saw very little time on the field during his rookie season. If either of Hunter or Smith miss time, there is little evidence that suggests their impact can be replaced.

In order to provide some security, the Vikings could opt to use their cap space on EDGE depth. One player that comes to mind is someone that was in Minnesota just last season, Everson Griffen.

Griffen performed very well with the Vikings, recording five sacks over nine games, before leaving the team following the incident with police at his home. He has stated that his mental health is in a much better state, and that he wants to return to the field in 2022. If this is the case, why not bring him back to Minnesota?

Save It for Next Year

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates after scoring his first NFL touchdown in the third quarter of a football
game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Minneapolis. (Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via AP)

This is the less exciting option, at least for right now, but if the Minnesota Vikings are in fact done spending, they can roll over their remaining cap space to 2022. There will inevitably be more signings to replace injured players, so it’s very unlikely that they will be able roll over more than $5-6 million.

That said, Minnesota needs as much money as they can get for the 2023 offseason. They will have the ability to make contract restructures next offseason, but as of now, they only have $1.8 million saved for 2023.

If you need a reminder, next offseason is the Vikings chance to get Justin Jefferson signed to a contract extension before he can hit free agency in 2024. On top of that, Irv Smith Jr. is scheduled to hit free agency next winter, too. Like I said, the Vikings need as much money as they can get.