Vikings Shave a Bit More Cap Space

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

The deadline is approaching, and the Minnesota Vikings have until Wednesday, March 15th, at 3:00 pm CST to shimmy underneath the NFL’s salary cap. After releasing beloved linebacker Eric Kendricks on Monday, the team stood at $15.6 million over the cap.

More roster cuts, contractual restructures, or trades are expected in the next five days. A small transaction occurred Friday to clear space, and it involved defensive tackle Ross Blacklock.

Vikings Shave a Bit More Cap Space

Blacklock, who arrived in Minnesota via trade with the Houston Texans late last summer, freed up $683,000 in cap space with the move.

Vikings Shave a Bit
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

The Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling tweeted Friday, “Vikings DT Ross Blacklock renegotiated his contract on Wednesday to the NFL veteran minimum of $1.010 million for 2023. The move saved the Vikings about $683,000 of cap space.”

According to Over the Cap, the Blacklock maneuver brings the Vikings to $15,096,863 in the red as of Friday morning, with more such moves upcoming.

PurplePTSD: A Trade with Houston, Roster Is Out, Ed Ingram Takes His Throne
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah traded a 2023 6th-Round pick to Houston for Blacklock and a 7th-Rounder last August. Blacklock turned out to be a depth defensive tackle, playing 139 defensive snaps in 11 games last season. He was a 2nd-Round draft pick in 2020 — 18 picks after Justin Jefferson — so the Vikings evidently believe in his upside.

The Blacklock restructure won’t be the last Vikings tweak to the salary cap — and certainly not the most drastic — as other players, including longtime veterans — are expected to restructure or be released.

Vikings Going Down
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Seemingly out of nowhere on Thursday, outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith tweeted, “I just want to say ‘Thank you!’ to Skol Nation for an amazing season & experience! Thank you to all of my Teammates, Coaches & the entire Minnesota Vikings Organization! ?.”

NFL insider Ian Rapoport retweeted Smith’s goodbye post and provided clarity, “Vikings Pro Bowl pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith informed the team that he wants to be released, I’m told. The team has no plans to do that. The situation remains unresolved.”

Minnesota will save $12.1 million in cap space if Smith gets his wish.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports.

For Blacklock, the 24-year-old Texas native could experience more playing time in 2023 as 2022 DT starter Jonathan Bullard is a free agent and can sign anywhere next week. It is unclear if Bullard is a priority to re-sign in Brian Flores’ new defense.

Other possible cap-casualty candidates include wide receiver Adam Thielen, running back Dalvin Cook, fullback C.J. Ham, linebacker Jordan Hicks, and the aforementioned Smith.

**Update: Wide receiver Adam Thielen was released moments after this article’s publication.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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