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NFL Salary Cap: 2019 cap projected to be approximately $190 million

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The recent trend of a hefty annual increase continues

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the NFL announced that the projected 2019 salary cap would be between $187 - $191 million, an increase of anywhere from $10-14 million, depending on where the final number lands. That is keeping with recent trends, which has seen an annual increase of about $10 million a year, give or take, since 2013.

If anyone cares, the initial NFL salary cap, which was instituted in 1994, was $34.6 million. How times have changed.

So, how will that affect the Vikings? According to Spotrac, if you roll all 2019 contracts and project them for next year, Minnesota is about $7.5 million under a projected cap number of $190 million as I write this (I’m rounding to the nearest million, because math is hard). It seems like the Vikings are already hard up against the cap, but let’s look at just a few contracts that are prime candidates to be adjusted, which will give the Vikings room to maneuver for free agency and the draft next year.

Andrew Sendejo, S: Sendejo is scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2019, with no dead money if he is released. He’s been a starter next to Harrison Smith since 2015, but was injured in week five, and was put on IR a couple weeks ago. In that time, Anthony Harris has emerged as a bona fide starter, and I just don’t see Sendejo returning at that salary. Heck, I’d be surprised if he’s back at all. Harris will be an unrestricted free agent, so I can see them taking the savings from Sendejo’s salary and putting it towards a new deal for Harris, but that’s just me.

Everson Griffen, DE: This is a difficult paragraph to write for me, as Griff is one of my favorite Vikings, and his well documented struggles with his mental health this year have me really rooting for him. That said, he’s got a 2019 salary of $11.9 million, with only $1.2 in dead money. Griff only has 4.5 sacks this year, and Stephen Weatherly has played well in his place. With the emergence of Danielle Hunter as a pass rushing force, Griffen’s salary is a luxury at this point. I hope the Vikings don’t release him and they find a way to keep him at a lower cap number, but I would be stunned if he’s back at his full projected salary next year.

Kyle Rudolph, TE: Rudolph has been a productive player for the Vikings, but he is on the hook for $7.2 million next year, with no dead money against the cap. He’s still a big part of the Vikings offense, and even though I’d be surprised to see the Vikes outright release him, I wouldn’t be surprised if they re-do his contract.

Mike Remmers, RG: I think Remmers’ future is tied to what the Vikings do in the draft and free agency. He’s scheduled to make $6.3 million next year, but has a dead cap number of $1.8 million. The Vikings have one of the lowest dead cap numbers in the NFL, so absorbing that much dead money would be an unusual move. Still, though, it would be a $4 million savings.

Riley Reiff, LT: Reiff’s 2019 salary is $11.7 million, with a dead cap number of $6.6 million. If cutting Remmers and absorbing $1.8 million in dead money is unusual, then taking $6.6 million would be the salary cap equivalent of The Elephant Man unusual; it’s simply not happening. But is it conceivable the Vikings can re-do Reiff’s contract and wring out a saving of $5 million? Yes, it is, and I believe they’ll do just that.

Laquon Treadwell, WR: The player everyone can’t wait to get rid of will be sticking around next year. He is still on his rookie deal, and his 2019 salary is fully guaranteed. I highly doubt the Vikes exercise his fifth year option, a decision they will have to make next May, but next season he’s making $3.1 million, which means cutting him would cost the Vikings $3.1 million in dead cap money.

So, let’s say the Vikings cut all these guys, minus Treadwell. The Vikings will see a savings of over $27 million dollars, giving them an estimated cap space of $40.5 million just by addressing these five contracts. Like I mentioned, I don’t see them cutting all these guys, but I do think they’ll restructure two or three guys, if the players are willing to do so. I have no idea what those modified deals will look like, but it’s not unreasonable to think that when it’s all said and done, Minnesota will save about $30-35 million in cap space just dealing with these contracts alone, giving them enough money to do what they need to do in free agency and the draft.