We’re about five weeks away from the start of free agency in the National Football League, and we’ll finally have some fresh news about the Minnesota Vikings to talk about. The team is no doubt preparing to spend some money to shore up their weak points, but how much will they have to do that?
As it stands right now, the purple sit with approximately $20 million in salary cap space. However, as this article from CBS Sports points out, the Vikings have the greatest “cap flexibility” of any NFL team. That means they have the ability to free up more salary cap space than anyone else.
Just how much can they free up? Well, let’s take a look at some of the players that could, potentially, be cap casualties as we get closer to March. I’m definitely not suggesting that the Vikings will cut all of these players, but their salary figures and their performance put them close to the chopping block, at the very least. All salary figures come from Over the Cap.
Adrian Peterson, RB - Salary cap figure of $18,000,000
We’ve already touched a bit on Peterson’s cap figure for 2017. He has that $18 million cap figure for 2017, but if the Vikings were to release him before the start of the league year in March, they would get every penny back in cap space. I’m sure the debate will rage on about Peterson’s status until the folks at Winter Park reach a definitive conclusion, but you can bet with about a 99.9% certainty that if Peterson is back in Minnesota next season, it won’t be for that price tag.
Sam Bradford, QB - Salary cap figure of $18,000,000
Just for the sake of discussion, I’ll put Bradford’s number here. Realistically, he’s not going anywhere with the status of Teddy Bridgewater being a complete unknown at this point and there being almost nothing of value available in free agency. If the Vikings did get rid of Bradford, they’d have to eat $4 million, but would free up $14 million under the cap. Still, if you’re hoping for the Vikings to trade or release Bradford, I wouldn’t hold your breath. They could, however, work out some sort of extension for him to reduce his cap figure for the upcoming season.
Sharrif Floyd, DT - Salary cap figure of $6,757,000
Floyd is going to be an interesting case. The figure above is for his fifth-year option, and the Vikings could release him without giving him any of that money. Floyd played in the season opener in 2016, had knee surgery, and then sat in some sort of strange limbo where the Vikings kept him on the roster for a few months and deactivated him every week. Mike Zimmer didn’t seem impressed with Floyd’s recovery skills, based on answers he gave to questions about it at press conferences. However, the defensive tackles the Vikings played next to Linval Joseph weren’t terribly impressive, meaning that the Vikings could certainly look at giving Floyd another opportunity. He’s an impact player when he’s on the field. . .he just has to actually be out there.
Brian Robison - Salary cap figure of $6,600,000
It’s not that Robison has been bad, per se. However, he is getting older, and even he’s said that he can hold off Danielle Hunter at the defensive end spot forever. With Hunter’s performance in 2016, it would be foolish for the Vikings not to increase his role in 2017, and that would mean a decreased role for Robison. If the Vikings were to let Robison go, they’d have a $1 million dead cap hit, but would free up the other $5.6 million under the cap.
Brandon Fusco - Salary cap figure of $4,800,000
Fusco got a hefty contract extension early in the 2014 season after showing a great deal of promise for the Vikings in his first couple of seasons. He then got injured and missed nearly all of 2014, and has since been a complete dumpster fire at both left guard (2015) and right guard (2016). I’m not entirely sure what brought this on, but it’s been ugly for him the past couple of years. The Vikings could, potentially, keep him around as depth, but not at that salary. If the team were to release him, there would be a dead money hit of around $1.6 million, but the other $3.2 million would be freed up under the cap. If he were to be designated a “post-June 1” cut, the dead money hit would drop to $800,000, giving the Vikings $4 million in cap room.
Leaving a potential Bradford trade or release out of the equation, since the odds of it happening are virtually nil, the Vikings could potentially free up approximately $34.35 million in cap space just based on the players that are listed here. There are other players that could be let go based on performance, but these are the players that would likely be targeted based on their salary level.
The Vikings do have some in-house free agents to worry about, and the inevitable Xavier Rhodes contract extension will likely be coming sooner rather than later. Still, the Vikings have the ability to free up a whole lot of room under the cap to attempt to do some damage in free agency this spring.