With the Minnesota Vikings locking up both Everson Griffen and Xavier Rhodes for the long term, it’s time to start asking who the next member of the purple to get a big contract extension should be. There are a couple of worthy candidates, and some players that aren’t quite eligible yet, but will be soon.
For starters, players like linebacker Eric Kendricks, defensive end Danielle Hunter, and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. . .all of whom likely figure prominently in the team’s long-term plans. . .will not be eligible for contract extensions until after the 2017 season is completed. Players can’t negotiate a contract extension until they have finished three full NFL seasons, and as those three players were all drafted in 2015, the Vikings will be able to start looking at contracts for those three players following the conclusion of this season.
Of players that are eligible, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press says that the Vikings appear to have targeted defensive tackle Linval Joseph and linebacker Anthony Barr for potential contract extensions, with Joseph being the most likely to be “next in line” for a deal.
Joseph is currently in the fourth year of a five-year deal that he signed with the Vikings back in 2014, and he’s pretty well exceeded his deal with his level of play. He’s set to have a cap figure of $6.85 million both this season and next season, and given the level he’s played at during most of his time in purple, he’s a bargain as it stands right now. Joseph will turn 29 in October, and certainly hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down yet.
Barr might have a slightly longer wait. The Vikings picked up his fifth-year option, and he’s set to have a cap figure of $4.05 million this season and a whopping $12.3 million in 2018. That $12.3 million is only guaranteed to Barr in the case of injury, much like the situation we saw with Sharrif Floyd this last year, and if he bounces back from a disappointing 2016, the Vikings would no doubt like to decrease that cap figure to keep him around for a longer period of time.
With all of these promising young players up for potential big money deals in their second contracts, not to mention the impending quarterback situation with Sam Bradford and/or Teddy Bridgewater to deal with, the Vikings are going to have to do some serious salary cap gymnastics over the next couple of years. However, if anyone is capable of getting it done in the manner that’s best for the team, it’s Rob Brzezinski and the rest of the Vikings’ cap magicians.