The Davenport Decision Day Has Arrived

Vikings Buy Time
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Will Marcus Davenport get an encore in Minnesota? Very soon, we’ll find out.

Per Over the Cap, the pass rusher’s contract will void on February, 19th. Or, put differently, today. Letting the contract reach its end without arriving at an extension will mean that the projected $6.8 million in dead money shifts from hypothetical to actual. So, if there’s no new deal., the Vikings’ budget will officially see a major bite taken out of it even though the player isn’t on the roster.

The Davenport Decision Day Has Arrived

The Davenport situation got a bit of airtime on PurplePTSD.

A couple weeks ago, OTC’s Jason Fitzgerald took some time to explain the NFL’s void-year contracts that are soon coming to an end. Notably, the Vikings had several players atop the pile: Kirk Cousins, Danielle Hunter, and Marcus Davenport. How do voids work and what do they mean for the Vikings?

Running Game
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“Basically, the void year is a fake contract year used for the sole purpose of parking salary cap charges,” Fitzgerald explains, “and when the contract expires whatever cap numbers are in those void years accelerate to the current season.” For Davenport, that’s the aforementioned $6.8 million.

However, an extension can save cap space. With Davenport specifically, there’s a chance to save quite a bit: “Finally the team could prevent $5.1 million from accelerating from Marcus Davenport’s contract.”

An extension could shave off $5.1 million due to being able to keep stretching out the signing bonus for a bit longer. But, crucially, some of that open room would get gobbled up by whatever new salary was committed to the pass rusher.

News on One Forgotten
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At the time, signing Marcus Davenport made a pile of sense. At just 26 last offseason, Davenport offered tremendous potential to be a pass-rushing solution for not just 2023 but years to come. He was chosen 14th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft and seemingly the only thing getting in his way was health, or lack thereof.

A prove-it deal made sense all around.

The Vikings took a home-run swing on a young defender at a premium position for relatively cheap; meanwhile, the defender secured a reasonably beefy contract for a single season with the hope that magnificent play in 2023 would lead to a gigantic contract the following offseason.

London Calling for
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The issue, of course, is that Davenport again succumbed to injury, leading to career-lows in games played (4) and snaps (118). His season finished with 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 QB hits, and 2 tackles for a loss on the statistical ledger.

There’s no questioning his talent but a lot of teams will be reluctant to sign him given the injury history. In all likelihood, the Vikings will be among the teams that proceed with caution with Davenport; an 11th-hour extension would be a major surprise.

If Davenport fails to stick around the Twin Cities, then Minnesota will move ahead with Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II on the roster. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will then be working on solutions with Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum, players who are similarly moving toward free agency.

Finally, the GM will be surveying the edge rusher landscape in both free agency and the draft. There’s a good chance that Adofo-Mensah leans on both to fill the huge need within the Vikings’ defense.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and 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.