Vikings Offseason Plan v1.0

It is very interesting reading many of the posts on how to get the Vikings back to being competitive. All are pretty good and none are wrong (just different approaches). However, there are some key points in the new CBA in relation to the salary cap that we MUST keep in mind when coming up with these plans.

First, under the new CBA the team is required to spend 89% of the cap in cash starting in 2013. This is the most important thing to remember when thinking about releasing players and signing others and is the premise for this rebuild.

Here is an article with some very good information regarding the rules ...

Obviously there are some players that will be free agents that the Vikings will probably not offer a contract before free agency begins thereby allowing them to go out and test the open market. They could come back to some of these players with an offer.

There are some other players that they may release due to the amount of salary they are going to make in 2012 (and beyond). Many of these players could get released due to performance or health or age (or all) reasons. They could ask some of these players to renegotiate their contracts to reflect their level of play.

So before they start to release some players outright they have to figure out how much of a cap hit the team would take for any prorated signing bonus money that had not been including in any year's cap.

For example, if the Vikings decided to release Cedric Griffin they are looking at taking a cap hit in 2012 unless they waive him after June 1st when the cap hit can be spread out over two years. Now I could be wrong on this because I am not sure if Griffin received a signing bonus. I do know that his contract numbers on rotoworld are this ...

3/20/2009: Signed a five-year, $28.5 million contract. The deal includes $10.5 million guaranteed. 2011: $3.35 million, 2012: $4.1 million, 2013: $4.85 million, 2014: $5.45 million, 2015: Free Agent

Spotrac does not show the signing bonus

This site here seems to think that he received a 5 mil signing bonus

If that is true then his cap hit would only be 2 mil if he was released.

Anyway, without trying to be exact (as it is practically impossible without seeing the actual contract) any player released may or may not have a cap hit associated with his release. As it would be kind of crappy but not unheard of to release a player after June 1st, I hope the Vikings will just release the players early in free agency allowing them a full opportunity to get a job elsewhere.

Also, trading a player does not relieve the team from the remaining signing bonus and it all would accelerate onto the current years cap. So if AP received a signing bonus then trading him is probably not going to happen just from a salary cap standpoint alone. I cannot find anything that says he received a signing bonus. Only that 36 mil is guaranteed which is the first three to four years basically. I have to believe that he received some sort of signing bonus though I could be wrong.

I believe that trading Jared Allen would also cause a cap hit but I am not sure how much. They can prorate his signing bonus of 15.5 mil over 5 years which would mean a cap hit of 3.1 mil (2012 is his 5th year). But he also had a 4 mil second year signing bonus and a 4 mil third year guaranteed for injury roster bonus. I think it is safe to say that trading Allen would take up some available cap space. I do not exactly how much it would be but it does not matter. The point is that even if they decided to trade Allen they would eventually need to pay someone to get to that 89% number.

The best bet is to extend his deal a few years thereby lowering his cap hit this year and next. I suppose they could trade him and take the cap hit because they would be saving that money (it would be dead money against the cap). But I do not know if dead money counts towards the 89% number because that is a cash number.

Suffice it to say that trading Allen or AP are NOT in this plan nor will they be in future plans (but I reserve the right to change my mind).

Please provide any corrections or additional information to the above as it is hard to find exact details and I am not saying it is totally accurate (only what I could find).

Now that I have covered some of what could happen with the cap space I can move on to more details.

This site here seems to think the Vikings have 4.1 mil in cap space available right now and whatever they do not use can be rolled over in to next year. I am not sure of that so I cannot include it in plans for next year.

In thinking about what the Vikings should and will do I keep coming back to the fact that they will need to spend at least 107 mil (if the cap is at 120 mil) in 2013 which is the 89% number. I expect the cap may go up a little though. And since the league as a whole has to be at 95% of the total salary cap number, each team is going to be responsible for any shortcomings (if I read that correctly). Thus the Vikings need to probably be close to 95% of the cap each and every year.

So why is this important? Well if they wanted to release some high priced players, who would they pay that money to on the current roster? The answer is no one besides Percy Harvin is going to get some big bucks anytime soon and he is not a free agent until 2013. I hope they address his contract situation this offseason or during next season.

In 2013, Hutchinson, Herrera, Asher Allen, & Brinkley are free agents. There could be others who sign one year deals in 2012.
In 2014, Harvin, Allen, Kluwe, Robison, Winfield, Chris Cook, Gerhart, Everson Griffen, Loadholt, Sanford, & Webb are free agents
In 2015, KWill, Cedric Griffin, & all of this years rookies are free agents.

I only see Harvin as a player that I would give a new deal to BEFORE the end of the 2012 season. He could be unhappy with his deal starting this offseason as he is set to make 955K in 2012. I think any reasonable plan should include giving Harvin an extension.

It will not be easy releasing players unless you sign some to replace their money on the salary cap. The current group of backups may not need to get a new deal right now and the team may not want to give them a new deal either.

Here are the free agents in 2012 that I would not offer a new contract (at least not right away). I will list their age and 2011 salary number too. I also will list what I think is their cap number for this year which may or may not be correct.

Donovan McNabb 35 - 7.25 mil - 9.45 mil
E.J. Henderson 31 - 4.7 mil - 6.7 mil
Visanthe Shiancoe 31 - 3.1 mil - 4.5 mil
Jim Kleinsasser 34 - 3 mil - 3 mil
Husain Abdullah 26 - 1.835 mil - 1.835 mil
Eric Frampton 27 - 1 mil - 1mil (not sure of this number)
Fred Evans 28 - 1 mil - 1mil (not sure of this number)
Tyrell Johnson 26 - 555 K - 922.5 K
Greg Camarillo 29 - 900K - 900K (not sure of this number)
Kenny Onatolu 29 - 480K - 480K
Benny Sapp 30 - 555K - 555K (not sure of this number)
Devin Aromashodu 27 - 1 mil - 1mil (not sure of this number)
Xavier Adibi 27 - 555K - 555K
Letroy Guion 24 - 555K - 598.75K

These are the players I would release. I will list their age and 2012 salary number too. I also will list what I think is the accelerated prorated signing bonus that will count against the cap.

Steve Hutchinson 34 - 6.95 mil - 0 (I do not think there will be any cap hit as it will be the 7th year of his deal and teams can only spread the bonus out over five years)
Anthony Herrera 31 - 2.65 mil - 250K
Cedric Griffin 29 - 4.1 mil - 2 mil
Antoine Winfield 34 - 7 mil - 280K (the Vikings converted all of his guaranteed money into his first year base salary thus they did not spread out any money over five years)
Remi Ayodele 28 – 3 mil – 3 mil

This would free up about 49.7 mil of salary and clearly open many more holes on the team. I did not count how much additional money would be freed up based on the cap numbers. I am only talking about their salary. So there is probably more cap space which can be counted towards signing the new rookies. Also, of the 17 players above, 8 are thirty years old or above, 7 are backups, 1 (Griffin) is not looking like his old self yet, and Abdullah could be retained.

These are the players I am leaning towards offering an extension. I am not sure of what amount that would be but I think it is safe to say it will not be a huge amount. If the Vikings are successful in free agency then maybe they do not offer these players a new deal. But that is hard to do since these players will be able to accept offers too.

John Sullivan 26 - 555K - 579.5K
Erin Henderson 25 - 1.2 mil - 1.2 mil
Lorenzo Booker 27 - 555K - 555K (not guaranteed)
Patrick Brown 24 - 405K - 405K (not guaranteed)

As you can see this is an ambitious plan but one that probably needs to be embarked upon considering the state of the roster. If they kept Hutchinson, Winfield, and Griffin, then they should ask them to renegotiate. They can lower Winfield's number as it is written into his contract. But then in 2013 they will have to replace Hutchinson's salary and decide on Winfield continuing on at the age of 36 and Griffin continuing on at the age of 31.

Now that I have gutted the roster and with the team only holding 9 picks with a probable additional two compensatory picks, there will still be some players that they need to add. Also, they have to replace the salaries they are losing and as I said above, only Harvin is due a new contract. Thus the Vikings should have significant monies to be major players in free agency. That does not mean they will sign the top free agents but they can definitely sign lower level (and younger) free agents and will have a chance to sign some top free agents.

Looking at free agency there are plenty of players who would help the Vikings. But these players are going to cost a pretty penny. The question is which free agents worth the money? Look at this list of free agents who signed with other teams this year and think about the impact they have had on their new teams.

WR - Steve Breaston, Sidney Rice, Plaxico Burress, Braylon Edwards, Mike Sims-Walker, Steve E. Smith
CB - Nnamdi Asomugha, Kelvin Hayden, Jonathan Joseph, Danieal Manning, Richard Marshall, Carlos Rogers, Eric Wright
S - Oshiomogho Atogwe, Atari Bigby, Abram Elam, Mike Hamlin, Dawan Landry, Dwight Lowery, Quintin Mikell, Bernard Pollard, Bob Sanders, James Sanders, Donte Whitner
LB - Nick Barnett, Darryl Blackstock, Kevin Burnett, Na'il Diggs, Justin Durant, Thomas Howard, Manny Lawson, Kirk Morrison, Paul Posluszny, Barrett Ruud, Clint Session, Ernie Sims, Takeo Spikes, Stephen Tulloch
DT - Remi Ayodele, Justin Bannan, Alan Branch, Barry Cofield, Ron Edwards, Aubrayo Franklin, Cullen Jenkins, Amobi Okoye, Shaun Rogers
DE - Jamaal Anderson, Mark Anderson, Jason Babin, Stephen Bowen, Tyler Brayton, Ray Edwards, Travis Laboy
OT - Marc Colombo, Oniel Cousins, Jared Gaither, Stephen Heyer, Charlie Johnson, Sean Locklear, Bryant McKinnie, Jamon Meredith, Tony Moll, Tyler Polumbus
OG - Stacy Andrews, Chris Chester, Daryn Colledge, Ryan Cook, Harvey Dahl, Leonard Davis, Derrick Dockery, Robert Gallery, Scott Kooistra, Evan Mathis, Eric Olsen, Chris Spencer, Jason Spitz

Obviously some of the players look good on paper but how many really had a huge impact and will they continue to do so going forward? That is the key when signing free agents. With the amount of money paid to the player you want them to be able to contribute for a few years at the very least. With that in mind I am targeting some players who are young and that I feel have some upside to their games. I do not know if giving them money will change their disposition but we have to do something.

Here are some of the contracts that were signed last year.

Lance Moore - 5 year $20 mil with $7 mil guar and a $3 mil signing bonus
Steve Breaston - 5 year $25 mil with $9.5 mil guar

James Anderson - 5 year $22 mil with $8.5 mil guar and a $7 mil signing bonus and $1.5 mil of his second year salary.
Nick Barnett - 3 year $11.5 mil with $6 mil guar and a $1.5 mil signing bonus
Kevin Burnett - 4 year $21 mil with $9.8 mil guar
Thomas Howard - 2 year $6.5 mil contract.
D'Dwell Jackson - 1 year $4.75 mil
Paul Posluszny - 6 year $42 mil with $15 mil guar

Tramon Williams - 5 year $38.148 mil with $11.074 mil guar and a $6 mil signing bonus
Brandon Flowers - 6 year $50.6 mil with $22 mil guar
Jabari Greer - 4 year $22 mil with $10.2 mil guar and a $3 mil signing bonus
Jonathan Joseph - 5 year $48.75 mil with $23.5 mil guar and a $12.5 mil signing bonus
Charles Tillman - 7 year $41.5 mil with $18.5 mil guar and $3 mil performance bonus in the first year

Dawan Landry - 5 year $27.5 mil with $10.5 mil guar
Eric Weddle - 5 year $40 mil with $19 mil guar and a $13 mil signing bonus
Danieal Manning - 4 year $20 mil with $9 mil guar
Donte Whitner - 3 year $11.75 mil with $4 mil guar

Ahtyba Rubin - 4 year $27.6 mil with $18 mil guar
Barry Cofield - 6 year $36 mil with $12.5 mil guar
Brandon Mebane - 5 year $25 mil with $9 mil guar

So the free agents I think the Vikings have a good chance at signing are below with their age and a potential salary offer based on free agent signings last year. Keep in mind that the Vikings MAY have to overpay a little to get players to come here and to get the players they want which is risky.

SS - Tyvon Branch 24 - 5 year 32.5 mil
FS - Michael Griffin 26 - 5 year 35 mil
CB – Brandon Carr 25 - 5 year 32.5 mil
LB – Curtis Lofton 25 - 6 year 42 mil
DT - Amobi Okoye 24 - 4 year 14 mil
DT - Paul Soliai 27 - 4 year 28 mil
WR – Robert Meachem 27 - 5 year 25 mil

My strategy is to sign TWO safeties and TWO cornerbacks IF Cook is released or traded. If they keep Cook then they should only sign one cornerback. I think they will end up keeping Cook though.

I think that Tennessee will have a tough decision because they have to sign Cortland Finnegan too. So I doubt Griffin gets the franchise tag. The Vikings need to make the best offer to get players they want. They cannot be outbid.

I think Kansas City will have a tough decision because they have to sign Dwayne Bowe too. They could tag Carr but they just gave Flowers a pretty large deal. They do have the available cap space though.

I think Atlanta will have a tough decision because they have to sign Brent Grimes, John Abraham, and Thomas DeCoud. They do not have a lot of cap space right now but could let some players go I suppose. They may not franchise tag Lofton.

I think the Saints will have a tough decision because they have to sign Drew Brees, Carl Nicks, Marcus Colston, and Aubrayo Franklin. They could lose a lot of players. Maybe I should find a way to get Carl Nicks?

I think the Dolphins will NOT franchise tag Soliai again. They tagged him for the 2011 season and are paying him 12.381 mil this year. If they tag him again they have to pay 120% of that amount which is 14.857 mil. I doubt they do that very seriously. I am not sure why they have not given him a long term extension yet. Maybe they are concerned with his weight?

I think the Raiders could sign Branch to a long term deal but they just gave Michael Huff a new 4 year 32 mil deal in July. They also have Matt Giordano and Michael Mitchell. They may not have much cap space after signing Carson Palmer. Branch may be the one player who may not hit free agency.

Well they all could accept new deals from their teams but in this "fantasy wanna-be GM" scenario they are allowed to hit free agency and the Vikings offer up the big bucks. It may take a little more to sign these players too. The guaranteed part of their deals will be key because if they do not pan out the team needs to be able to release them after a couple of years.

The Vikings currently are picking at #3. So I am basing this mock draft using the #3 pick.

I do not think there is going to be an opportunity to trade down from #3. Right now Jacksonville and Carolina are #3 & 4 and since they do not need a QB other teams can target them for a trade. I would not mind trading but it will cost a pretty penny for a team to move up. Right now I cannot see a trade unless Cleveland decides Colt McCoy is not the answer and wants to trade both of their first round picks. Or they could want Trent Richardson since they are not going to resign Peyton Hillis. But since I cannot project that here I am going to leave it out.

I think the first two picks are Indianapolis taking Andrew and St Louis taking Matt Kalil.

With the picks here is what I would do …

3. Jonathan Martin OT Stanford 6-6 305 5.23
35. Alameda Ta’amu DT Washington 6-3 337 5.23
67. Lucas Nix OG Pittsburgh 6-5 310 5.18
comp. Jeff Allen OT/OG Illinois 6-4 315 5.26
99. Leonard Johnson CB Iowa State 5-10 202 4.49
131. Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma 5-10 188 4.52
171. Danny Trevathan LB Kentucky 6-0 232 4.68
195. Matt Conrath DT/DE Virginia 6-7 280 4.84
210. Jordan White WR Western Michigan 6-0 215 4.54
219. Jeff Adams OT Columbia 6-6 305 5.02
comp. Corey Mosley FS Virginia 5-10 200 4.51

Here is what the roster would look like

QB – Ponder, Webb
RB – Peterson, Gerhart, Booker, King (PS)
FB – D’Imperio
TE – Rudolph, Reisner, Schuler
WR – Harvin, Jenkins, Meachem, Broyles, Burton, White
C – Sullivan, Fusco
G – Johnson, Love, Nix, Allen
T – Martin, Loadholt, Brown, Adams
P – Kluwe
LS – Loeffler
K – Longwell
DE – Allen, Robison, Griffen, Ballard, Reed
DT – Williams, Soliai, Ta’amu, Okoye, Conrath (PS)
LB – Greenway, Lofton, Henderson, Trevathan, Dean, Brinkley
CB – Carr, Cook, Allen, Sherels, Burton, Johnson
FS – Griffin, Raymond, Mosley (PS)
SS – Branch, Sanford

Obviously there are 3 too many players but King, Conrath, and a corner will probably be sent to the practice squad or cut. Also, they may want to get a practice squad QB or two. I think they should extend Allen and give Percy a new deal as well. Extending Allen should free up enough to give Percy a new deal.

Well there it is. Just a start but a probable template for future plans I may post. Just remember that the Vikings need to replace money for any players released or not resigned (i.e., spend 89% of the cap in cash) under the new CBA rules. So they MUST sign some free agents. Not necessarily all this year.

Here is an alternate free agency and draft plan targeting a few top free agents and overpaying which is risky if they do not pan out because now you have used up the cap.

OG – Carl Nicks 26 - 6 year 50 mil
SS - LaRon Landry 26 - 5 year 42 mil
FS – Thomas DeCoud 26 – 4 year 20 mil
CB – Brandon Carr 25 - 6 year 44 mil
LB - Dan Connor 24 - 4 year 20 mil
DT - Amobi Okoye 24 - 4 year 14 mil
DT - Paul Soliai 27 - 4 year 30 mil
WR – Robert Meachem 27 - 5 year 25 mil

In the draft I would then do this …

3. Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State 6-1 215 4.52
35. Kelechi Osemele OG Iowa State 6-5 347 5.40
67. Andrew Datko OT Florida State 6-6 321 5.23
comp. Keenan Robinson LB Texas 6-3 239 4.68
99. Leonard Johnson CB Iowa State 5-10 202 4.49
131. Jarius Wright WR Arkansas 5-10 180 4.34
171. Jeff Demps RB Florida 5-8 191 4.26
195. Matt Conrath DT/DE Virginia 6-7 280 4.84
210. Jeff Allen OT/OG Illinois 6-4 315 5.26
219. Jeff Adams OT Columbia 6-6 305 5.02
comp. Corey Mosley FS Virginia 5-10 200 4.51

Here is what the roster would look like

QB – Ponder, Webb
RB – Peterson, Gerhart, Demps, King (PS)
FB – D’Imperio
TE – Rudolph, Reisner, Schuler
WR – Harvin, Blackmon, Jenkins, Meachem, Wright, Burton (PS)
C – Sullivan, Fusco
G – Nicks, Osemele, Johnson, Love, Allen
T – Loadholt, Datko, Adams, Brown
P – Kluwe
LS – Loeffler
K – Longwell
DE – Allen, Robison, Griffen, Ballard, Reed
DT – Williams, Soliai, Okoye, Guion*, Conrath (PS)
LB – Greenway, Connor, Henderson, Robinson, Dean, Brinkley
CB – Carr, Cook, Allen, Sherels, Burton, Johnson
FS – DeCoud, Raymond, Mosley (PS)
SS – Landry, Sanford

* may have to resign Guion in this scenario.

I like this scenario because the WR position will be stronger and the guard position should be very strong. It depends on the ability of Datko, Allen, Adams, or Brown to beat out Johnson for the left tackle spot though. Not comforting at all but I am hoping the line would look like - Datko, Nicks, Sullivan, Osemele, and Loadholt with 4 to 5 backups. But the two oldest players would be Sullivan and Nicks at 27.

I think that either scenario will require a lot of luck. The front office will have to be very aggressive going after these (or any) players and will need to pay the players slightly more than what any other team will pay. They cannot leave anything to chance. With AP, Harvin, Allen, and KWill on the team they still could be attractive to some players.

The bottom line is that the Vikings are going to need to sign some new players to big contracts in thext couple of year and decide what to do with a few players that are making a lot of money and are almost at the end of their career. So what is the best and fastest way to get the team back to being competitive in the NFC North? Hanging onto players that may have only one or two years left is OK but it is fraught with probable disappointment.

Obviously all the free agent moves will probably not happen. But the 2013 free agent class does not look as good. You have to strike while the iron is hot. They will probably hang onto some players but may ask to restructure. In the end, that strategy is just prolonging the inevitable. I would like to go with the youth as soon as possible.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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