It is that time of year again where we all can be merry (or Mary). The Vikings are in the 7th position with a .500 record and if the playoffs started today, they would face the Cowboys. It is good to still be in the dance but I am not confident Zimmer will have his team show up and compete.
Trying to speculate about the draft next year requires a little quick review of the salary cap next year. Right now the Vikings have about -7.338 mil in cap space (according to overthecap) based on next year’s projected cap space of 208.2M.
How can the Vikings create cap space? The two top cap hits are the QB at 45M and Hunter at 26.12M. Neither of these deals should stay as is. Here is what I would do ...
Add two void years to the QB’s contract and convert 18M to a bonus which frees up 12M in cap space.
Updated cap space - 4.662M
I like this option the best because it frees up cap space and puts pressure on the QB to perform even better which translates to team success. It does not have to be the QB’s fault but if they do not have playoff success then the strategy will have proven itself to be a failure.
Convert 10M of Danielle Hunter’s 18M roster bonus to a signing bonus and spread over 4 years which frees up 7.5M in cap space.
Updated cap space - 11.662M
Hunter getting hurt combined with the restructuring this past season gives the team time to see if he can stay healthy and produce at a high level while spreading his cap hit out a bit. A win-win for now.
Add one void year to Eric Kendricks’ contract and convert 7.5M to a bonus which frees up 5M in cap space.
Updated cap space - 16.662M
Add two void years to Adam Thielen’s contract and convert 10M to a bonus which frees up 8M in cap space.
Updated cap space - 24.662M
Convert all of Harrison Smith’s 8M roster bonus to a signing bonus and spread over 4 years which frees up 6M in cap space.
Updated cap space - 30.662M
Another move that would save 6.5M in cap space could be considered and that would be to release or trade Pierce. We’ll leave that out for now but, unfortunately, availability is a serious concern.
With 30M in cap space, what free agents should the team try to re-sign?
Give Patrick Peterson a 2 year 18M deal with two additional void years and a 8M signing bonus which costs 4M in cap space. Larger games played incentives should be included.
Janoris Jenkins signed a 2 year 15M deal last March at age 32.
Updated cap space - 26.662M
Give Xavier Woods a 3 year 22.5M deal with one additional void year and a 8M signing bonus which costs 3.5M in cap space.
Rayshawn Jenkins signed a 4 year 35M deal last year and Jalen Mills signed a 4 year 24M deal last year.
Updated cap space - 23.162M
Give Tyler Conklin a 3 year 18M deal with one additional void year and a 8M signing bonus which costs 3.5M in cap space.
Blake Jarwin signed a 4 year 22M deal in 2020 at age 25 and Nick Boyle signed a 2 year 13M deal in 2021 at age 27.
Updated cap space - 19.662M
Give Mason Cole a 2 year 5 deal with a 1M signing bonus which costs 2M in cap space.
Updated cap space - 17.662M
I could see Nick Vigil being brought back as well as the two dudes that put their foot on the ball but I doubt any of these players get much more than the minimum. Greg Joseph is an EFRA so he will be right around the minimum.
One outside free agent I will wish for here would be ...
Charvarius Ward CB from the Chiefs
He gets a 3 year 27M deal with one additional void year and a 8M signing bonus which costs 4M in cap space.
Ronald Darby signed a 3 year 30M deal last year and Michael Davis signed a 3 year 25.2M deal last year.
Updated cap space - 13.662M
With the remaining cap space and the possibility of moving on from Pierce, the Vikings will be in good shape to sign the rookies and possibly make other moves.
Heading to the draft the roster would be ...
QB - Cousins, Mond
RB - Cook, Mattison, Nwagwu
FB - Ham
WR - Jefferson, Thielen, Osborn, Johnson, Smith-Marsete, Chisena, Proehl
TE - Smith, Conklin, Ellefson, Peterson
OT - O’Neill, Darrisaw, Brandel
OG - Cleveland, Udoh, Davis
OC - Bradbury, Cole
DE - Hunter, Wonnum, Jones, Robinson, Willekes
DT - Tomlinson, Pierce?, Watts, Lynch, Twyman, Scott
ILB - Kendricks, Surratt, Connelly
OLB - Dye, Lynch, Vigil?
CB - Peterson*, Dantzler, Ward*, Boyd, Hand
SS - Smith, Metellus
FS - Woods*, Bynum
P - who cares?
K - Joseph
LS - DePaola
Onto the mock ...
It looks like linebacker would be hurting in this scenario but with the cap space remaining, they could find a bargain after a few weeks or more into free agency. I cannot speculate on who may still be out there looking for a deal (Barr?) once we get into April.
Fanspeak has the Vikings drafting at #19 using the official draft order.
Sent: Round 1 Pick 19
Received: Round 1 Pick 22, Round 4 Pick 11
Sent: Round 2 Pick 19
Received: Round 2 Pick 26, Round 4 Pick 12
Sent: Round 3 Pick 19
Received: Round 3 Pick 24, Round 6 Pick 23
Sent: Round 4 Pick 12
Received: Round 4 Pick 20, Round 7 Pick 6
22: R1 P22 EDGE George Karlaftis - Purdue 6’5” 270
#7 on Bruce Feldman’s 2021 College Football Freaks list. He power cleans 380, did a 505-pound front squat, a 10-1 broad jump, and a 37-inch vertical jump. His 40 this offseason was 4.69.
58: R2 P26 LB Christian Harris - Alabama 6’2” 232
He was high on lists to start the season but has fallen a bit. Also, he has not declared yet.
88: R3 P24 CB Tariq Woolen - UTSA 6’4” 205
#6 on Bruce Feldman’s 2021 College Football Freaks list. He’s 6-4 1/4, 204 pounds but also has broad jumped 11-5 and run a laser-timed 4.34 40. He topped out at 23.33 MPH on the GPS and his flying 10-yard time is .90 seconds.
113: R4 P11 G Jamaree Salyer - Georgia 6’4” 325
Salyer is a dependable, versatile, solid offensive lineman. He played right tackle in 2019 as well as some center. He played left tackle the first nine games of 2020 before moving to left guard for the bowl game. He started 9 of 13 games at left tackle in 2021 and saw extensive action at right guard. He can do it all and play anywhere you want. “I have no preference,” Salyer said when asked if he’d like to play guard or tackle in 2021. “I like to think of myself as a Swiss Army Knife. I can do anything, whatever the team needs to win.
122: R4 P20 LB Leo Chenal - Wisconsin 6’2” 260
#22 on Bruce Feldman’s 2021 College Football Freaks list. Chenal does 420 and cleans 385. The big man clocked a 4.00 time in the pro agility and has hit a top speed of 20.95 MPH on the GPS. He’s also broad jumped 10-1. He is HUGE!
160: R5 P18 S Kerby Joseph - Illinois 6’1” 200
He had a monster senior year, being the top-graded defensive back in the nation, per Pro Football Focus. He also tied for first in the country with five interceptions. But Joseph isn’t just a defensive back — he’s a safety.
183: R6 P4 TE Isaiah Likely - Coastal Carolina 6’3” 245
197: R6 P18 WR Romeo Doubs - Nevada 6’2” 200
202: R6 P23 CB Joshua Williams - Fayetteville State 6’4” 325
209: R6 P30 WR Calvin Austin III - Memphis 5’9” 162
225: R7 P6 DL Eyioma Uwazurike - Iowa State 6’6” 320
231: R7 P12 G ZeVeyon Furcron - Southern Illinois 6’2” 327
#25 on Bruce Feldman’s 2021 College Football Freaks list. The 6-2, 327-pound FCS All-American is a sixth-year senior and a five-year starter who is arguably the strongest man in college football. He has squatted 800 pounds and benched 500. He was a starting defensive tackle as a freshman, but moved to left guard in 2018 and has been a fixture there for SIU.
An alternate mock ...