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Minnesota Vikings News and Links, 8,9 July 2023

Consciousness: that annoying time between naps.

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NFL: International Series-Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

Welp, another day without any extension news is not news right? I think they need to extend Jefferson, Hunter, and Hockenson before training camp begins. They have the cap space and only need to reach agreement on value. Here is what I would offer with the hopes that it is sufficient and fair.

First, the current cap space ...
Season : Total Liabilities : Team Salary Cap : Cap Space
2023 : $203,037,431 : $220,847,403 : $17,809,972
2024 : $202,553,656 : $256,000,000 : $53,446,344
2025 : $116,631,309 : $282,000,000 : $165,368,691
2026 : $33,704,492 : $308,000,000 : $274,295,508
Hockenson gets a 4 yr 58M deal
Season : Total Liabilities : Team Salary Cap : Cap Space
2023 : $198,537,431 : $220,847,403 : $22,309,972
2024 : $212,808,823 : $256,000,000 : $43,191,177
2025 : $135,631,309 : $282,000,000 : $146,368,691
2026 : $52,704,492 : $308,000,000 : $255,295,508
Hunter gets a 3 yr 66M deal
Season : Total Liabilities : Team Salary Cap : Cap Space
2023 : $206,802,431 : $220,847,403 : $14,044,972
2024 : $224,188,823 : $256,000,000 : $31,811,177
2025 : $167,251,309 : $282,000,000 : $114,748,691
2026 : $54,704,492 : $308,000,000 : $253,295,508
Jefferson gets a 5 yr 168M deal
Season : Total Liabilities : Team Salary Cap : Cap Space
2023 : $212,802,431 : $220,847,403 : $8,044,972
2024 : $232,445,823 : $256,000,000 : $23,554,177
2025 : $199,251,309 : $282,000,000 : $82,748,691
2026 : $90,704,492 : $308,000,000 : $217,295,508


In 2024, they will likely release Harrison Smith or he’ll accept a huge pay cut. I was kind of surprised they did not wipe out the remaining years of his contract when they did the recent restructure. Smith has a 19.2M cap hit in 2024 and if he is released, they would save 11.38M in cap space. He will be 35 years old in 2024 too.

Assuming they release Smith then they’ll have $34,938,293 in cap space in 2024 with extensions for Cleveland, Davenport, Osborn, and Tonga being the main ones to consider. This cap space also includes the 28.5M dead money cap hit for Kork. They have the option to use that in an extension if they decide to go that route.

Other Vikings stuff ...

Is Danielle Hunter elite enough for the Vikings to extend him long term?

Pay site.

Hunter, 28, accumulated more pressures that ended drives than any other pass rusher in the NFL in 2022. He also amassed a league-high five “rare high-quality pressures,” which Thorn defines as a one-on-one quarterback hit or hurry against an elite blocker.

Hunter #1 in Drive Kill Pressures!

Vikings’ Priorities: Extensions for Justin Jefferson, Danielle Hunter

Jefferson reported to this week’s mandatory minicamp, is attending meetings and hit the field for warm-ups and some non-contact drills. Still, he’s unlikely to practice fully until the two sides reach an agreement. He made the wise decision to attend minicamp, thus creating a better feeling as negotiations continue.
Hunter took the opposite approach by skipping the minicamp and is subject to fines totaling around $50,000 for missing the two-day camp. It’s a mistake for a player under contract, such as Hunter, not to at least show up and “hold in” by attending meetings but not practicing until their contract is extended. Teams rarely fine a player who takes that approach.
Jefferson Priority No. 1
The Vikings surely will make Jefferson the highest-paid receiver. And to take him over Hill, they would have to pay Jefferson $36.75 million per year in new money on top of the $22.1 million he has coming under the last two years of his current contract. On a four-year extension which puts Jefferson under contract for six years, the total of $169.1 million averages $28.2 million annually.
Teams never want to rip up contract years, but nearly $37 million per year in new money sounds enormous and would be the most ever (in new money) for a non-quarterback. So for cosmetic reasons, the Vikings could say Jefferson has far outperformed his rookie deal (as the No. 22 overall pick in the 2020 draft). Therefore the team is giving him a brand new contract for $150 million over five years ($30 million per year) with a guarantee of around $100 million, which would surpass Hill’s $72 million in guarantees and a $30 million signing bonus that would jump the $25.5 million Hill received upfront.
Hunter’s Situation More Complicated
However, Adofo-Mensah has not been as forthcoming with positivity on Hunter’s situation — complicated by his injury history (26 games missed over 2020 and 2021 with neck and pectoral injuries). The three-time Pro Bowl defender is coming off a bounce-back season in which he played every game for the first time since 2019 and produced 10.5 sacks, 22 QB hits, 65 tackles and 12 tackles for loss. If he stays healthy, he should be even more effective in future years since 2022 was his first season playing as a 3-4 edge player/outside linebacker after being a 4-3 defensive end in his first six seasons. He also should benefit from new defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ more aggressive scheme.
Hunter earned $20 million last year as part of his previously signed contract and then restructured a $14.4 million per year extension from 2018. They have scheduled him to earn only $5.4 million in base salary and roster bonuses in 2023 after moving significant money from his 2023 pay to 2022. That amount won’t fly for a top edge rusher who is only 28 years old.
Now that Hunter has seemingly overcome his injury issues, the Vikings should sign him long-term. Minnesota can accomplish it with guarantees and roster bonuses that trigger year-to-year, a large signing bonus, and a per-year average in the league’s top tier. Last year’s sack leader Nick Bosa of San Francisco will soon surpass Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt ($28 million per year) as the top edge rusher. Hunter belongs in the $22-23.5 million per year new money range where Bradley Chubb (Dolphins), Khalil Mack (Chargers) and Maxx Crosby (Raiders) sit behind Watt, Joey Bosa (Chargers, $27 million per year) and Myles Garrett (Browns, $25 million per year).
The fascinating thing about Hunter’s contract situation is the Vikings can do a new contract with him that includes reducing his base salary to a minimum of $1.165 million. Then they can give him a signing bonus of $20 million on a four-year deal and, with his old signing bonus and restructures, he would have a 2023 cap number of $13.785 million which is only $665,000 more than his current cap hit. Even if the team included $1 million in roster bonuses, Hunter must stay on the field to maximize his deal. So a new contract is affordable, at least for this season.

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Yore Mock

I am going to assume they will extend Hunter and bring back Davenport in 2024 so that EDGE rusher is not a need.

I am going to assume they extend Kork another two years because they will be too far down in the draft to move up.

I am going to assume Lewis Cine plays well enough to allow them to wait on a safety although there could be several nice prospects early.


Trade Partner: Buffalo Bills
Sent: Round 1 Pick 23
Received: Round 1 Pick 29, Round 3 Pick 34
Trade Partner: Cincinnati Bengals
Sent: Round 2 Pick 23
Received: Round 2 Pick 28, Round 5 Pick 34
Trade Partner: Buffalo Bills
Sent: Round 5 Pick 34
Received: Round 6 Pick 5, Round 7 Pick 29

29: R1 P29 WR Rome Odunze - Washington 6’3” 212

60: R2 P28 G Connor Colby - Iowa 6’6” 311

98: R3 P34 LB Cedric Gray - North Carolina 6’2” 236

123: R4 P23 S Demani Richardson - Texas A&M 6’1” 215

125: R4 P25 CB Fentrell Cypress II - Florida State 5’11 182

142: R5 P6 QB Joe Milton III - Tennessee 6’5” 242

168: R5 P32 C Andrew Raym - Oklahoma 6’4” 305

180: R6 P5 TE Erick All - Iowa 6’5” 255

198: R6 P23 DL Jaylon Hutchings - Texas Tech 6’0” 305

248: R7 P29 EDGE Jordan Burch - Oregon 6’7” 275


Another first round pick on a receiver? Are you out of your freakin mind? Why yes, yes I am. I think a bigger receiver would be good and KJ Osborn is likely going to get paid. In this scenario, if they extend Kork, now they got serious weapons despite not having that top running back that is apparently indispensable.

I think a guard is in order because I do not think they are going to pay Ezra what he likely will get as a free agent and they have to consider Darrisaw’s extension.

Hicks likely will be gone so another linebacker will be needed even if it is only for depth purposes.

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