With the surprising news of backup QB Matt Cassel getting traded to the Bills, and the latest in the Adrian Peterson saga, things have kind of changed quite a bit for the Vikings and their potential approach to free agency. As of right now, according to Spotrac, the Vikings are just a shade over $26 million under the salary cap, and that includes all roster moves up to and including the Cassel trade.
Awhile back, we took a look at this from the perspective of the Vikings being able to keep Peterson at his full salary, and how it would minimally affect the Vikings and whatever their plans may have been regarding free agency. That was assuming a salary cap of $140 million (now revised up to $143 million), and no trade of Matt Cassel. I wrote:
But consider: The Vikings usually enter free agency somewhere around $25-$30 million under the cap, and that number, although not hard and fast, allows most teams to be as aggressive as they want to in free agency while still having money left over for the draft.
As of right now, they're right in their wheel house to do what they want, and depending on how the meeting with Adrian Peterson, Rick Spielman, and Mike Zimmer went (BROHUGS FOR EVERYONE), it could increase substantially. And it potentially makes the Vikings major players for the biggest names in free agency. If Peterson really is willing to re-negotiate his contract to get traded, as was reported last night, that $26 million cap number balloons another $13 million to $39 million.
And that's before we even discuss Chad Greenway.
The Vikings have also said, in recent days, they want Greenway back, but not at his $8.8 million cap number. An outright release would add another $7.1 million to the cap, giving the Vikings a staggering $46 million in cap space, which would be the sixth most in the NFL entering free agency. But let's say they really do want Greenway back, and he agrees to a paycut, and let's just say, hypothetically speaking, the Vikings save $4 million on the cap with a re-structured Greenway deal.
That's still $43 million (7th most), and it gives the Vikings the ability to step up and go after whoever they want, even an Ndamukong Suh if they wanted. And unless a team like Jacksonville or Oakland is willing to pay stupid level monopoly money, the Vikings, depending on how things shake out, can run stride for stride with anyone for anyone.
And consider--instead of going after Randall Cobb or Jeremy Maclin, for example (not saying they will), they could go after Randall Cobb AND Jeremy Maclin. Or, instead of targeting Brian Bulaga or Mike Iupati, they could go after both. Or, they could go after big names at five or six positions, instead of two or three. It gives the Vikings maximum flexibility to do what they want, and go after whoever they want to target.
That's not to say they will; Rick Spielman gave his annual 'we aren't going to be big players in free agency' statement the other day, and that very well may be true. Buuuuut...he said that last year, and then went out and signed Linval Joseph and Captain Munnerlyn, and he also said he wasn't going to trade Percy Harvin...right before he traded Percy Harvin to Seattle, so yeah. Remember it's the silly season, and take anything an NFL GM says with a grain of salt.
Especially the Vikings GM.
So over the course of a few days, the Vikings went from good shape cap wise with Adrian Peterson in the fold, to potentially a major free agency player pending a possible Peterson trade, plus the announced Cassel trade. Either way, the Vikings are sitting in the proverbial catbird seat regardless of which way they go, at least from a salary cap perspective, as they head towards free agency.
A top 6 or 7 team in terms of salary cap space (potentially) plus the 11th overall pick in the draft? Yeah, the Vikes are set up to kill it this off season. Kill it.