Vikings Salary Cap Clearing May Not Be That Exciting

Offseason Is Different
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the 2023 NFL Combine the Week of February 27th. The Vikings have the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Minnesota Vikings lost in Week 1 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team not expected to do much of anything in 2023.

Naturally, fans were melancholy, and the docket gets no easier this week as Minnesota travels to Philadelphia for a Week 2 rematch of the 2022 season against the Eagles. The Vikings lost last year in Philadelphia, 24-7.

Vikings Salary Cap Clearing May Not Be That Exciting

Meanwhile, the Vikings cleared cap space recently, typically a precursor to an incoming player or contract extension for someone on the roster.

Salary Cap Clearing
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted Tuesday morning, “Contract restructures to create cap room on the eve of the season (all done on Saturday): Vikings OT Brian O’Neill: $9.99M created.”

The Yates tweet arrived at a time when Vikings fans — almost in unison — have called for Minnesota to add veteran free-agent guard Dalton Risner, a request increasing in volume after Week 1. Minnestoa RG Ed Ingram struggled on Sunday, even causing a fumble by a teammate, quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Risner met with the Vikings brass six weeks ago in Eagan but left the facility without a contract. He’s remained a free agent since.

But the problem with Risner-to-Vikings theories in light of the O’Neill restructure is timing. O’Neill’s contract was wiggled around last weekend while the Vikings were hoping to finish Justin Jefferson’s contract extension, a maneuver that didn’t pan out and now appears to be a February or March order of business.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Long story short — Adofo-Mensah probably didn’t clear the O’Neill money solely to pursue Risner as everyone desires. It’s significantly more likely that he believed a Jefferson deal was nearing finalization and moved the cash around to pay for Jefferson’s would-be signing bonus.

Of course, Jefferson and the Vikings didn’t complete the extension, so the funds remain available to spend. One cannot rule out a Risner free-agent signing; it’s just not imminent, sources tell VikingsTerritory.

Even National Voices
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert offered clarity about the O’Neill restructure, too, “The long-awaited Brian O’Neill restructure finally happened Saturday, per Field. The Vikings were down to the wire on the Justin Jefferson negotiations at the time.”

The Vikings now have about $13 million in available cap space, enough room to be nimble as the NFL’s trade deadline approaches in seven weeks. Adofo-Mensah can reverse course and pay Jefferson, sign Risner, sign someone else like Ndamukong Suh, sign nobody, swing a trade for an expensive player, or do nothing at all. The cash would then roll into the 2024 salary cap.

Minnesota plays Philadelphia in about 50 hours and is expected to lose by seven points per sportsbooks.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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