Vikings Encounter a New Obstacle After Opening Days of Free Agency

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Competing in the upcoming season is going to be made difficult by a financial obstacle: a mountain of dead money.

The Vikings encounter the problem largely due to some recent decisions. True, Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter were inherited players, but Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pushed signing bonus money into future years to finance the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The end result is a 2024 Vikings budget that’s going to need to digest a whopping amount of inaccessible cap space.

Vikings Encounter a Pile of Dead Money in 2024 Budget

The idea got some airtime on PurplePTSD.

Coming into free agency, the Vikings were staring down less than $5 million being immobilized by dead money. That number has grown by leaps and bounds, mostly due to the Kirk Cousins departure. The well-paid passer is nowhere to be found and yet he’s gobbling up $28.5 million in the current budget.

Former QB Predicts Kirk
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The positive is simply that the projected budget was already accounting for the dead money charges.

On Over the Cap, the cap space was sitting somewhere in the mid-30s for a little while. Crucially, that was a number that already had $28.5 million for Cousins, $14.9 million for Hunter, and $6.8 million for Davenport baked in. The key difference is that the money will soon become immovable.

Future in Minnesota Should
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Seeing the trio depart involves Minnesota onboarding a stunning $50,206,667 in dead money. Accepting that amount means the Vikings will have a significantly more difficult time competing in 2024.

OTC’s Jason Fitzgerald has clarified that Minnesota is now leading the NFL in dead money:

The Cousins, Hunter, and Davenport decisions coalesce with the money already being left behind by Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and a few others. Oh, and the Dean Lowry cut kicks a bit more onto the pile.

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Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

As of this morning, the Vikings are projected to have the 3rd-most cap space in 2025. But, of course, that’s a reality that’s going to change once Justin Jefferson’s extension gets finalized (any day). And then there’s the need to account for the deals done over these past couple days and then the incoming draft class + UDFA batch.

Even still, the budget a year from now is going to be robust.

Accepting a monstrous amount of dead money right now is a way of protecting that future abundance, but the 2024 season is going to feature somewhere around 20% to 30% of the budget that’s inaccessible due to dead money.

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

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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.