When you think about teams having to cut players to get under the salary cap or having to make room to pursue free agents, you generally don’t think about the Minnesota Vikings. For years, the front office, led by Rob Brzezinski, has done magical things with the Vikings’ salary cap situation over the years, and as we get closer to the start of free agency, the purple are again flush with financial resources to improve their outlook.
As things stand right now, the Vikings have the 9th-most cap room in the NFL according to the folks from Over the Cap. That makes them the only team in the top ten in available salary cap space that made the playoffs this past season. If you look at their current salary structure, a lot of their money at this point is tied to top-flight players that are in no danger of being cut.
Here, according to Over the Cap, are the ten biggest salary cap hits that the Vikings are looking at for the 2018 season.
- Xavier Rhodes - $13,400,000
- Anthony Barr - $12,306,000 (fifth-year option)
- Everson Griffen - $11,600,000
- Riley Reiff - $11,400,000
- Harrison Smith - $10,000,000
- Linval Joseph - $8,050,000
- Kyle Rudolph - $7,675,000
- Sharrif Floyd - $6,757,000*
- Latavius Murray - $6,350,000
- Adam Thielen - $5,000,000
We’ve been over the Floyd situation, and it remains to be seen how his situation with the Vikings will be resolved and how it will affect the Vikings’ cap space. But, if you look at those top ten guys on the salary scale, there aren’t very many of them that would appear to be in danger of getting cut. Jarius Wright also has a cap figure of $4,760,000, but seriously. . .he’s almost to Marcus Sherels levels of “the Vikings are never going to cut this guy regardless of how many years in a row we project them to do so.”
The one guy on the list above that could be looking at potentially being cut. . .outside of Floyd, obviously. . .would be Latavius Murray. It’s not that Murray is a terrible running back or anything. Far from it, in fact. He wound up leading the Vikings in rushing after the injury to Dalvin Cook. However, Cook is going to be back next season, and it’s pretty clear that the Vikings see him as their #1 back as soon as he sets foot back on the field again.
Murray has that $6,350,000 cap figure, but if the Vikings were to cut him, they would only have to eat $1,200,000 of that, giving them an extra $5,150,000 of space. The team could probably ask him to restructure, but if he’s not on board with that sort of thing, the team could look to cut him. They could try to re-sign him at a lower figure, or they could use that money towards an effort to keep Jerick McKinnon around or go another route in free agency.
Honestly, with the job that the Vikings front office has done with figuring out the cap and making sure the Vikings never again find themselves in “cap hell,” there aren’t a lot of potential salary cap casualties. You can bet the Vikings will be on the lookout for other players being released by teams that don’t have quite the same luxury as they do, though.