While we’re not finished with the 2016 NFL season yet, we’ve already gotten some news about what might be happening with the league in 2017, at least in terms of the salary cap.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported prior to yesterday’s games that the salary cap for the 2017 NFL season is projected to be somewhere between $163 and $165 million. The salary cap for this season is $155 million, so it looks like the league is anticipating an increase of anywhere from $8 to $10 million.
According to former NFL agent Joel Corry, the projection might even be underplaying it a little bit.
Salary cap has come in 3.25-3.5% higher than lower end of projections last 2 years. If same is true this time, 2017 cap will be above $168M.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) December 11, 2016
The two main salary cap projection sites have different figures for the Minnesota Vikings based on these numbers. Spotrac is projecting the Vikings to have close to $22 million in salary cap space, while Over the Cap has the Vikings with closer to $25 million. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but there are some things the Vikings can do that would increase that number.
The elephant in the room is Adrian Peterson’s contract. He has a cap figure of a whopping $18 million for 2017, which is the final year of his current contract. There’s absolutely no way the Vikings give $18 million to a 32-year old running back that’s missed the better part of two of the last three seasons. If they just outright cut him, they would take no dead money hit and their cap space would increase to between $40 and $43 million, depending on your source. Peterson could agree to a restructure/extension that would decrease his cap figure for 2017, but you’d have to think it would need to be a significant pay cut in order for the Vikings to keep him.
There’s also some money to be freed up, potentially, with the contract of defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. The Vikings picked up Floyd’s fifth-year option, and that carries a cap figure of $6,757,000 for 2017. However, like Peterson, the Vikings could cut Floyd without incurring any sort of salary cap hit. Given that Floyd has missed the last 12 games after playing in the opener and that Mike Zimmer already seems to have basically forgotten about him, he could be another prime target for a release.
Finally, the team could look into doing something with the contract of quarterback Sam Bradford. He, like Peterson, is going into the final year of his contract in 2017, and has a potential cap figure of around $17 million. We can get into whether or not he’s the long-term answer for the Vikings at quarterback in another post, but for now the team could look to work out some sort of extension with him to give them some cap relief in 2017.
Releasing Peterson and Floyd would give the Vikings nearly $25 million in additional salary cap space to use. Naturally, there’s going to be the matter of resigning some of their in-house free agents and working on some extensions. The major one as far as that’s concerned is cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who is going to be in line for a big contract as one of the best young corners in the league.
At first blush, it doesn’t appear that the Minnesota Vikings are going to have a lot of money to play with in free agency, but they can change that with a couple of moves that they could. . .and probably should. . .make this offseason.