Paul Allen has been the radio voice of the Minnesota Vikings for 17 years, and has had a morning sports talk show in Minneapolis for 20. If there is anyone outside of Rick Spielman or Mike Zimmer that has the pulse of the Vikings and their personnel, one could make an argument that it’s Paul Allen.
Today on his show on KFAN, PA apparently dropped this little nugget bomb:
As fans, we love to play armchair GM, and make trades and mock drafts all the time. Most of these trades and mock drafts are proof positive that none of us, especially me, have any business near the roster of an NFL team. Well, except Green Bay. I’d totally love to trade Aaron Rodgers for Christian Hackenberg or a kicker straight up, or let him walk in free agency. I would devastate that team inside of 20 minutes to the point it would take them a decade to recover.
But, I digress.
Be that as it may, there has been talk of the Vikings moving a player before the season starts for awhile now. Nothing too serious, and we could even call the speculation more fans chirping and theorizing than anything else. But with that little nugget, PA gave it a some serious credibility today. When looking at possible trade scenarios, especially this time of the year, you have to look at depth at a position group, and salary cap hit for the team trading a player away. Compensation is obviously a big component, but let’s focus on the first two for right now and circle back to compensation at the end of the article.
Is there is someone on the Vikings roster that meets the criteria for ‘trade candidate’? Let’s take a look.
Trae Waynes, CB: So if you believe the Mike Hughes hype, and that Mac Alexander has improved, AND Holton Hill is actually better than advertised against Denver last Saturday, the Vikings have a ton of talent at CB and Waynes might be a guy the Vikings could trade. Minnesota exercised his fifth year option this past Spring, and he is scheduled to make just over $9 million next year, with no dead money against the cap. He played pretty well for the most part last year, and a lot of teams could use a starting CB. His 2018 salary is only $2.2 million, which would be a pretty fair bargain for a good starting CB in today’s NFL.
The Vikings have some decisions coming up on contract extensions, and with Anthony Barr’s extension not done yet, it could be that Lord Of The Dark Salary Cap Arts Rob Brzezinski may not have the ability to get a Barr extension done and still have enough money to get Waynes re-signed, too. A trade of Waynes takes $9 million off next year’s cap, and gives them plenty of room to get a Barr deal done without worrying about either putting the franchise tag on Waynes in 2020 or letting him walk with nothing in return.
Still, though, do you trade a guy that’s developed in to a solid starting CB for an unproven rookie, regardless of how he’s looked in a handful of practices and one preseason game?
Latavius Murray, RB: Dalvin Cook looks explosive so far in camp, and with Mike Boone and Roc Thomas playing well, is Murray expendable? When he re-structured his contract earlier this year, it gave him more money this year and voided 2019, so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this season. A Murray trade would free up over $5 million in cap space this year and could give the Vikings a way to help front load a Barr extension with more money this year and next year, for example. But would trading the only established vet in the running back room, and a guy that’s expected to be an important part of the offense be a wise move?
Trevor Siemian, QB: From a salary cap perspective, trading SIemian is relatively negligible. The Vikings traded for Siemian and a seventh round pick in exchange for a fifth round pick in next year’s draft to solidify the backup QB position. He is in the last year of his rookie contract, making $1.9 million, and would have no money coming off the books in 2019 since he’ll be a free agent.
That said, this is a QB starved league. Kyle Sloter performed well, and you could make an argument that he could overtake Siemian for QB2. In a league where QB play is at a premium, and with Kyle Sloter performing well, could the Vikings look to be shopping Siemian as opposed third string?
Everson Griffen, DE: Okay, just calm down a sec, and hear me out. Of all the most unrealistic options, Griff is probably as close to untradeable on this roster as anyone.
Or is he?
He led the Vikings in sacks last year with 13, but a foot injury slowed him down the second half of the season. He’s 30, and is in the first year of a four year extension signed last year. He’s making $12.7 million this year, with a cap hit of $11.6 million. But this is what his contract numbers look like from 2019 through 2022 (all salary numbers per Spotrac, btw):
If you’re looking at Griffen from a pure contract perspective, a restructure next year to reduce his cap hit seems like a distinct possibility. Those aren’t always a given, and if a player doesn’t want to do that, you run the risk of cutting them with nothing in return. And if it does get to that point, the dead money the Vikings would absorb wouldn’t be a really prohibitive number.
So, if you like the talent behind him (Stephen Weatherly, Tashawn Bower) and think it might be worth the gamble, and you think Danielle Hunter could step up and become the next elite pass rusher on the defensive line, and you think the addition of Sheldon Richardson means losing a guy like Griff would essentially be an overall wash for the defense as a whole...then trading Griffen and getting a high round pick or another player while you can might not seem that far fetched. With Griffen’s contract no longer on the books, the Vikings have the financial flexibility to do what they want with Barr and probably Richardson, too.
Admittedly, there’s a whole lot of ‘if/if/and’ conjecture in each one of these scenarios, and none of these could happen. If the Vikings intent is to trade a player with salary cap reduction in mind, it would seem that if they do pull a trigger on a trade, they’d probably be looking to get a draft pick or picks in return as opposed to another player and their contract. If they would want to do a player for player swap, my guess is they’d look to get an offensive lineman, if you don’t believe Tom Compton, Danny Isidora, or Aviante Collins can get it done. Or they could look to get a wide receiver, if you’re not happy with the depth behind Stefon DIggs and Adam Thielen.
My personal belief is that if the Vikings do make a move, it would be as much for salary cap flexibility as compensation, so I think they’d be looking to get draft picks as opposed to players.
So, let’s see what happens. If anything.