Vikings Could Soon Have Sparkling New Salary Cap Situation

Explained: 8 Items Learned from Vikings Final Preseason Game
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Ordinarily when pulling up the Minnesota Vikings salary cap situation, you close the internet tab after a quick shudder.

But that isn’t the case for the 2023 Vikings, some four months into the offseason.

Vikings Could Soon Have Sparkling New Salary Cap Situation

The Vikings have about $9.5 million in available funds to invest in contract extensions — Danielle Hunter, are you listening? — summer free agents, or a rainy day this autumn or winter. And if Dalvin Cook is traded or released, an outcome long-expected by Vikings fans, the club will climb ‘salary cap standings’ to $18.5 or $20.5 million.

Sparkling New Salary
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In March, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah opted to utilize a cap conversion on Kirk Cousins’ 2023 salary, sending $28.5 million into the future. Cousins isn’t under contract in Minnesota beyond 2023, and if he departs in free agency next March, the $28.5 million will calcify against Minnesota’s 2024 cap. Of course, Cousins could still be extended at any minute, but that probably would’ve happened by now.

Adofo-Mensah re-signed RB2 Alexander Mattison this offseason, an unforeseen move that seemed to imply a starter’s job for the 24-year-old. Then, he selected UAB’s DeWayne McBride in Round 7 of April’s draft, so the Vikings have five running backs under contract for 2023, including Cook.

Is There a Dalvin
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And if all the trade-Cook theories are correct — they started gaining legitimacy 2.5 months ago — Minnesota would boast $20.5 million in cap space, more than enough to extend Hunter, pounce on any free agent, or be in fabulous shape on August 29th when all NFL rosters dwindle to 53 players. On that day, per new NFL rules, about 1,200 players will be cut or waived, leaving the Vikings and other teams with money to strike on the sexiest unemployed names.

Comparatively, if nothing changes between now and the hypothetical Cook trade, the Vikings $20.5 million in available cash would rank No. 5 in the league. The Chicago Bears ($32.5 M), Carolina Panthers ($27.5 M), Detroit Lions ($23.7 M), and Indianapolis Colts ($23.4 M) lead the way as of May 25th, but the Vikings will check in at fifth if the Cook trade comes to fruition.

On the other hand, Minnesota appears to enjoy its current roster, holding ample excitement about last year’s draft class that was ravaged by injury. Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, and Ty Chandler are on deck for more prominent roles as sophomores, meaning Minnesota didn’t make a thunderous splash in free agency.

Lottery Ticket QB
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Still, if Adofo-Mensah gets to training camp and realizes an enhanced veteran presence is necessary, he’ll have the money to scour the open market, particularly if Cook is traded. EDGE rushers Leonard Floyd and Yannick Ngakoue are available. Cornerback Marcus Peters hasn’t signed anywhere. Inside linebackers Kyle Van Noy or Deion Jones would make sense in the Vikings current defense. And an offensive guard like Dalton Risner would be welcomed with open arms.

The Vikings salary cap is becoming more flexible by the moment with Adofo-Mensah in charge, so if you hear theories about free-agent relationships involving players like Ndamukong Suh, Minnesota actually can afford such players. Normally, they’re pinching pennies.

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