Earlier today, the site overthecap.com tweeted out a fairly interesting nugget of information regarding next year’s salary cap:
ICYMI Most projected cap room 2018— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) October 23, 2017
1 SF- $117.8M
2 Cle- $117.5M
3 Ind- $87M
4 NYJ- $77.6M
5 TB- $65.7M
6 WAS- $58.7M
7 Min- $57.2M
Well, well, well, look at that. Our own Minnesota Vikings with almost $60 million to play around with next year. Now granted, that’s projected, not definitive, and some things could change, but OTC is pretty good at stuff like this, so even if they’re off a little bit, they’re still pretty close.
Now, I’m not going to project which free agents the Vikings are going to sign. That’s just silly this far out, because teams have yet to levy franchise tags and re-negotiate deals for players they intend to re-sign.
And that’s what the Vikings are going to do as well. Let’s take a look at some of the players Minnesota will have to decide on moving forward, and where some sizeable chunks of that available cap space will go. Let’s look at some areas the Vikings will address.
QB: I’m not using this space to debate Teddy or Sam. I think we can agree it’s going to be one of those guys...and either one will be expensive. If you take Matthew Stafford’s extension (5 yrs/$135 mil, $92 mil guaranteed) as the baseline, you’re looking at some pretty lofty numbers. With their injury histories, I don’t see either Bradford or Bridgewater getting a deal that matches or exceeds Stafford’s, but they’ll be in the same zip code. Is a 5 year, $100 million deal out of the question here, with more than $35 million guaranteed? No, I think it’s pretty close actually.
RB: No real issues here. Latavius Murray is signed through 2019 with no more guaranteed money, and Dalvin Cook will be on year two of his rookie contract. CJ Ham will be on the last year of his deal, making just over $500,000.
OL: Again, an area that’s in pretty good shape cap wise. Both Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers will be on year two of their deals, and C Pat Elflein will be on year two of his rookie deal. Assuming Joe Berger retires, his heir apparent, Danny Isidora, is also on year two of his rookie deal. Current left guards Nick Easton and Jeremiah Sirles will be free agents, and I would expect the Vikings will make an attempt to bring back one of not both guys. Neither will command top money, which makes me think they’ll try and get both back.
TE: Kyle Rudolph is a guy I expect the Vikings to do something with, but not necessarily in 2018. I don’t mean they’ll cut him, but an extension and re-structure seems like a strong possibility. His current deal runs through 2019, with $6.3 and $7.6 million in dead money for 2018 and 2019, respectively. Those are big cap numbers, and something the Vikings will probably address, although not until 2019 I would imagine.
WR: The big name here is Stefon Diggs, who becomes a free agent after 2018. I want and expect him to be signed to an extension, but with his injury history I’m having a hard time figuring out a ballpark area deal. I don’t think there’s any way he gets an Antonio Brown-type deal (5/68 with $19 mil guaranteed), but a five year, $30-35 million deal isn’t too far fetched. That’s right in the neighborhood of Randall Cobb, Michael Crabtree, and Jordy Nelson, which feels about right. And I think he commands a bit more than Adam Thielen got, who got a 4 year, $19 million extension last year.
DL: Two of the four main guys, Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph, are signed through 2022. Tom Johnson is a free agent, but he’s also going to be 33. His current deal was a 3 yr, $17 million contract, and I don’t know if the Vikes would give him another three year deal. The last one is Danielle Hunter, who becomes a free agent after 2018. Griffen’s extension was 4 years, $58 million, with $18 million guaranteed, and Joseph’s deal was 5/50 with $11 million guaranteed. I fully expect the Vikings to sign Hunter to an extension, and have it land somewhere between Griffen’s and Joseph’s.
LB: Both Anthony Barr and Erick Kendricks have deals that expire after 2018. For Barr, the Vikings exercised his fifth year option, which means he has a fully guaranteed cap number over over $12 million next season. Kendricks will be on the last year of his rookie deal, and they’re both gonna get paid. I expect Barr to get a bigger deal than Kendricks, but they’re both going to be able to feed their family. Looking at some numbers on OTC, somewhere around $45 million for Barr, and $35’ish million for Kendricks seems like a ballpark number, and with this much expected cap space, the Vikings will be able to get both guys re-signed.
DB: Harrison Smith is good through 2021, and Xavier Rhodes is signed through 2022. For Trae Waynes, the Vikings have the fifth year option decision for him. I would expect them to exercise it, simply because he’s a starter, Terence Newman won’t be around, and the Vikings need him for depth if nothing else. Will that fifth year option translate into a 4-5 year extension? I honestly don’t know, and I can be persuaded in either direction right now. Mackensie Alexander and Andrew Sendejo are free agents after the 2019 season, and assuming Alexander keeps developing, I’d expect the Vikings to re-sign him. For Sendejo? He’s made strides and has become a decent to good starter, but he’ll be 32. I could see a one or two year deal, but not a long extension for him, if they bring him back.
Although the Vikings have a lot of deals coming due, they also have a lot of cap space to work with, and get most, if not all of those deals done. They also have the best cap guy in the business in Rob Brzezinski, so any deal the Vikings do I expect to be good for the player in terms of salary, and good for the Vikings in terms of a contract structured so it won’t bust the salary cap in out years.