The Vikings’ Cap Space is More Plentiful and Abundant Than Most Realize…But with a Bit of a Catch

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
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Roughly $25 million. Generally speaking, that’s the number that’s being tossed around in the discussion of the Vikings’ cap space.

And, to be sure, there’s good reason for doing so.

On Over the Cap — the internet’s foremost salary cap authority for the NFL — the Vikings have a touch below $25 million right now. In the coming weeks, Minnesota’s money will be in near constant flux, though most are looking for a major influx before the free agent signings gobble up room in the budget. And while the open room in the present moment is supremely important, the Vikings will be spending out of the cap space in 2025 to help finance things in 2024.

The Vikings’ Cap Space: Ample, but with a Catch

The idea got some airtime on PurplePTSD. What’s arguably of more importance than what’s available in 2024 is what’s available in 2025.

In the NFL, contracts commonly span across multiple years, thereby allowing teams do their utmost to shuffle the cap charges across the length of the deal. In so doing, cap space can be pretty easy to come by in the short term. So while the $25 million — a number that’s sure to increase — can disappear as fast as caffeine at Caribou Coffee, the Vikings will be leaning on a whopping $139+ million from 2025 to help finance their current spending.

Are All the Vikings Draft
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Consider some contracts that Kwesi has constructed since becoming Minnesota’s GM:

PlayerYear 1 Cap HitYear 2 Cap HitYear 3 Cap HitYear 4 Cap Hit
Hicks, Jordan$3,500,000$6,500,000N/AN/A
Phillips, Harrison$3,833,333$6,833,333$8,833,334N/A
Oliver, Josh$2,554,000$6,174,000$9,424,000$2,848,000
Murphy, Byron$2,961,765$10,911,765$4,200,000N/A

Across the board, there is a consistent trend: the cap hit in the opening season is much lower than subsequent seasons (note: Hicks later trimmed his Year 2 hit down to $5 million).

Now, that approach isn’t exclusive to the Vikings. Far from it, in fact. Teams almost always look for short-term flexibility by catapulting cap hits into the future. What’s notable with the Vikings is simply the abundance that appears in 2025.

The projected $139+ million is a ton and not characteristic of a lot of teams. OTC suggests that it’s the 5th-most cap space for 2025. Crucially, the teams sitting ahead of Minnesota have less contracts on the books, further indication that the Vikings are in a nice spot.

25 Free Agents
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The $139 million is going to drop down by a considerable margin once Justin Jefferson’s extension gets done, and so too will it see a bite taken out once Christian Darrisaw’s 5th-year option gets picked up. Neither number is factored into the OTC projection since neither has occurred.

Plus, a new deal for Kirk Cousins and/or Danielle Hunter will make money disappear faster than Houdini with a hare. So, too, will the upcoming draft class demand cap space since everyone who gets scooped up will have an automatic four-year deal.

How Does New
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Even after accounting for all of this accounting, though, the Vikings will have money to work with. After all, the 2025 budget currently has Harrison Smith taking on a bit more than $22 million in cap space even though there’s next to no chance that he’s still around at that number. And then there are options within some of the other deals — Brian O’Neill, T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver, Garrett Bradbury, C.J. Ham — to carve out more room.

Yes, there will be a lot taken out of that 2025 budget over the coming weeks and months but there’s also going to be plenty of options to replenish the Vikings’ cap space.

Adding all of these possibilities and eventualities together still leads to the same conclusion: Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the Minnesota front office will be able to reach into future cap room to help finance current spending. Expect the Vikings to respond accordingly by doing some damage in this year’s free agency period.

Lottery Ticket QB
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Several spots on Minnesota’s roster are aching for reinforcements.

Quarterback stands out since a certain controversial QB seems intent on demanding major money, but there are other worrisome spots. Overhauling the front seven is the next step in Adofo-Mensah’s defensive rebuild and the o-line needs to beef up the depth. Adding a RB, WR, K, and CB would also be prudent.

Making it all work will be nine selections in the 2024 NFL Draft and then a $25 million budget that’s going to get bounced back and forth like a ping pong ball. Oh, and then a mountain of money in 2025 that would make Smaug blush.

Free agency begins in a bit more than a month.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.