Vikings Should Release 2 Players

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It is that time of the year again. Last offseason, the Vikings parted ways with multiple longtime players. Fans had to say goodbye to Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, and Eric Kendricks. All three had been with the team for years, but their contracts were too pricey to secure their spot on the roster. Considering their declining performances, the moves were the right thing to do.

Vikings Should Release 2 Players

Just like last year, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah should open some room under the salary cap by releasing a pair of players.

Dean Lowry

Defensive end Dean Lowry was signed last offseason to support Harrison Phillips on the defensive line in Brian Flores’ new group. The Packers let him walk in free agency, and there was a reason for it. He’s simply not worth starter money.

Vikings Should Release 2 Players
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Adofo-Mensah handed him a two-year contract worth a total of $8.5 million. $4.2 million of that was guaranteed at signing. If the Vikings release him, they would keep $2.4 million as dead money but save $2 million in 2024, and the dead cap hit in 2025 because of three void years. A release saves Minnesota almost $4 million over the next two seasons.

Lowry appeared in a total of nine games, including four starts, logging 237 snaps on defense. A torn pectoral muscle prematurely ended his season. The 29-year-old contributed 14 tackles but failed to produce a sack or a tackle for loss.

Future in Minnesota Should
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He was unable to hold his spot in the running game and couldn’t make a difference against the pass. The Vikings should try to sign someone who can do that in free agency, and if that fails, they should look for someone in the draft.

While he wasn’t expected to be a difference maker, his performances were not worth that difference of $4 million.

Harrison Smith

This one does feel a lot different than parting ways with Lowry, a player who just joined a year ago. Harrison Smith was drafted in 2012 and is by far the longest-tenured Viking, followed by C.J. Ham, who was signed in 2016.

Theory on Harrison
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Smith’s problems are his age and the contract. He turned 35 on February 2, and his 2024 cap hit will be over $19 million. The good news is that Adofo-Mensah can save roughly $11.3 million by releasing him. That would also prevent the $22 million charge in 2025 from hitting the books.

The safety was still effective in 2023, returning into the box more often after a year in Ed Donatell’s defense that positioned him deep for the majority of the time, robbing him of his elite versatility. His athleticism has obviously declined at his age, and he is no longer an elite player, although it should be noted that he is still making game-changing plays. However, his cap hit places him in the top five among safeties, which is absurd.

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But there is more good news. Smith took a pay cut in 2023 to stay with the team and avoid a similar fate as Thielen and Kendricks. Another pay cut shouldn’t be ruled out. It would look quite strange to see him in a different uniform. The theory of Smith joining Mike Zimmer in Dallas has surfaced, though.

He surely has earned the right to end his career in Minnesota, and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and defensive coordinator Brian Flores would be foolish just to send him away if he wanted to continue to play here after taking a pay cut, but the Vikes can’t keep him on, the payroll at his current cap hit. Of course, there is a chance he has already played the last game of his career.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt