6 Ways the Vikings Can Spend Their Brand New Cap Space

Vikings to Hit Free Agent Market for Answers
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

The Minnesota Vikings traded Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns on May 12th, with the deal finalized Tuesday, May 16th. The club saved about $10 million with the transaction and gained two 5th-Round draft picks while sending Smith, a 2025 6th-Round pick, and a 2025 7th-Rounder to Cleveland.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah now has approximately $10 million in cap space, which can balloon to $21 million if Dalvin Cook is traded after June 1st.

6 Ways the Vikings Can Spend Their Brand New Cap Space

In no particular order, these are six ways the Vikings can spend the cash.

1. Danielle Hunter’s Extension

6 Ways the Vikings
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The longtime Vikings pass rusher only has around $5 million in new money hitting his bank account this season. That’s not enough, and his days of living with a team-friendly deal should cease.

Hunter is 28 years old, a prime age for a three-year extension or so. That contract should fetch $20+ million per season and is likely on the Vikings summer radar. A substantial portion of the existing cap space may be awarded to Hunter, whose resume with the Vikings spans eight seasons.

2. Sign a Cornerback

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.

The three starting cornerbacks on tap for the 2023 Vikings — Byron Murphy, Andrew Booth, and Akayleb Evans — all battled injuries in 2022. It would be peachy if they all showed up to training camp this summer and performed wonderfully, but what happens if the injury bug hits — again? Minnesota would turn to rookies, Tay Gowan, and Joejuan Williams.

All the big-name CBs are off the board in free agency, but these remain:

  • Eli Apple
  • William Jackson
  • Marcus Peters
  • Bradley Roby

3. Sign an Inside Linebacker

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports.

Jordan Hicks and Brian Asamoah will likely start as inside linebackers in 2023, and that twosome should do the trick. But like the cornerbacks above, what if one of those men tears an ACL in the preseason? For now, the Vikings would turn to Troy Reeder, Troy Dye, or undrafted free agent Ivan Pace.

If the Vikings want an insurance policy, these free-agent LBs need new homes:

  • Zach Cunningham
  • Myles Jack
  • Deion Jones
  • Kyle Van Noy

4. Sign an Offensive Guard

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota has just four offensive guards on the roster as of May 19th. Most teams have between five and six. Ezra Cleveland and Ed Ingram will start in September, barring something funky, and Chris Reed is a damn good reservist guard.

Yet, if the Vikings want to have depth akin to their competitors, these FA guards are available:

  • Oday Aboushi
  • Tom Compton
  • Jesse Davis
  • Gabe Jackson
  • Billy Price
  • Dalton Risner
  • Rodger Saffold
  • Trai Turner

5. Save It for a Rainy 2024 Day

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the 2023 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, IN. The Vikings finished 13-4 in the first year under Adofo-Mensah’s general management.

A less sexy route might be the smartest. Adofo-Mensah is very vividly keeping his salary cap flexible for 2024 and beyond, and if Dalvin Cook is traded, freeing up close to $21 million altogether, he can slide all or a chunk of that money into the 2024 budget.

For the first time since 2018, quarterback Kirk Cousins is not under contract for more than the upcoming season, implying the Vikings could move on in 2024. If they do that, they’ll need all the cap space attainable to surround the next guy — presumably a rookie — with an outstanding supporting cast. Banking 2023 cap space for 2024 accomplishes the task.

6. Ndamukong Suh — Later

Vikings at Top of the Ndamukong Suh Sweepstakes
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports.

Suh told NFL Total Access Monday, “I have no desire to be in a training camp. I will come in and watch and look and give some advice, but when Week 1 happens, I’ll be ready.”

He wants to return for a 14th season but isn’t in a hurry to do so. Last year, the Vikings were reportedly interested in Suh. If he is still interested, Adofo-Mensah can sign Suh closer to the regular season or even midseason like the Philadelphia Eagles did in 2022.

Minnesota has several defensive tackles on the depth chart, but none have Suh’s experienced and robust resume.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.