It’s no secret the Minnesota Vikings are in a tricky cap situation as they head into free agency, but they still have some key positions that need filling. Rick and co. will need to make some tough decisions regarding some key veterans on the roster.
Will they re-sign Anthony Barr or Sheldon Richardson? They can free up about $11 million in cap space by releasing Andrew Sendejo and Mike Remmers. The toughest decision(s) will be what to do with Everson Griffen, Kyle Rudolph, Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes. Griffen and Rudolph have very little dead money if they were to be released, expect the front office to approach both of them with contract restructures. Although, trading Rhodes or Waynes could hurt depth at an important position, if you can get a valuable asset in return for one of them, it could make sense. Lastly, the team has two restricted free agents they need to make decisions on. Rashod Hill and Anthony Harris both provide valuable depth. Harris played well in place of Sendejo who was injured mid-way through the season.
In this article, I wanted to do my own mock offseason. Some moves the team could explore as they approach free agency. I won’t be exploring any trades, only cuts, restructures and free agent signings I believe the team should make.
As it stands, the Vikings hold approximately $7,252,515 in available cap space.
Here are the cuts I will be making, and the cap impact with each one. We’ll add up the available cap space as we go.
- Andrew Sendejo has a team option of $5.5M that we’re going to decline
- Cap savings = $5.5M
- Mike Remmers
- Cap savings = $4.55M
- Kyle Rudolph
- Cap savings = $7,625,000
Current cap space after cuts: $24,927,515
Now to some restructures that I’ll be making.
- Danielle Hunter current cap hit $13.5M
- New base salary = $5.4M
- 2019 cap hit = $9.7M
- Stefon Diggs current cap hit $12.46M
- New base salary = $4.9M
- 2019 cap hit = $9.06M
- Everson Griffen current cap hit $11.7M – We’re going to rip up his current contract and start over.
- New deal = 3 years $20M with $10M in guarantees.
- 2019 cap hit = $5.5M
Current cap space after restructures: $40,727,515
Re-sign In-house Free Agents
- Anthony Barr – 5 years $57.5M
- Guaranteed = $30M
- 2019 cap hit = $10M
- Dan Bailey – 2 years $5.5M
- Guaranteed = $3M
- 2019 cap hit = $2M
- Marcus Sherels – 1 year $1.5M
- Guaranteed = $0
- 2019 cap hit = $1.5M
- Nick Easton – 1 year $1M
- Guaranteed = $0
- 2019 cap hit = $1M
- Tom Johnson – 1 year $3M
- 2019 cap hit = $3M
- Anthony Harris – RFA 2nd round tender
- 2019 cap hit = $3,110,000
Current cap space after re-signing in-house free agents: $20,117,515
We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve freed up cap space, and used some to make sure we go in free agency with a little bit of cash to make a couple of moves. We’ll be looking at the following positions; Interior offensive line, defensive tackle, tight end and possibly a third wide receiver if the money works out.
We’re going to start with offensive lineman. Being able to grab Easton on the cheap was a great bargain, with a lot of upside, but we need to make sure we don’t go into the draft without a viable starter along the interior. Here are some names I considered, based off scheme fit, money and the obvious ability.
- C – Matt Paradis
- LG – Rodger Saffold
- LG – Ramon Foster
- LG – Andy Levitre
- LG – Quinton Spain
- LG – Billy Turner
- LG – Ben Garland
- RG – Mike Person
- RG – Jamon Brown
Mike Person – 3 years $18M
- 2019 cap hit = $3.5M (Cap hit and contract resemble what Mark Glowinski received from the Indianapolis Colts this offseason)
Factoring in money and scheme fit, I went with Mike Person. He ended up ranking as the 18th ranked guard in 2018 according to Pro Football Focus. He’s an obvious scheme fit with his overall athleticism and movement ability. Coming from a Kyle Shanahan led offense, you know he has the ability to get out into space and run. He has position flexibility as well, playing center in 2015 and 2017 for the Falcons and Colts respectively.
Current cap number after signing Mike Person: $16,617,515
Now, let’s try and find a veteran tight end to replace Kyle Rudolph.
- Jared Cook
- Tyler Eifert
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins
- Jesse James
- Maxx Williams
- Geoff Swaim
Jesse James – 2 years $9M
- 2019 cap hit = $3.5M
Jesse James is an intriguing name, who’s still only 24 years old and coming off a season where he had 30 receptions, 423 yards (14.1 average) and 2 TDs. James was the 30th ranked TE according to Pro Football Focus in 2018. For context, Rudolph was the 36th ranked TE in 2018.
I don’t know why this is the image they have at Playerprofiler.com for James, but I find it hilarious!
Current cap number after signing Jesse James: $13,117,515
With very little cap space left, and needing roughly $5M for draft picks, I think we have room to sign one maybe two more low-end free agents. Let’s look at some wide receivers and backup quarterbacks.
- Pierre Garçon
- Ryan Grant
- Cordarrelle Patterson
- Terrance Williams
- Dontrelle Inman
- Jermaine Kearse
- Justin Hardy
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, Cordarrelle Patterson! The Vikings could use a third wide receiver who has some juice, won’t break the bank, and can create after the catch. The plan this time around would be to use Patterson the way he was meant to be used, as a primary gadget and kick returner. The recent Super Bowl champ, had 21 receptions, 247 yards and 3 TDs, 42 rushing attempts for 228 yards and returned a kick for a touchdown for the Patriots in 2018. He had a 70.8 grade from Pro Football Focus.
Cordarrelle Patterson – 2 years $7M
- 2019 cap hit = $3M
Cap space after signing Cordarrelle Patterson and heading into the Draft: $10,117,515
With just over $10M in cap space left before the NFL Draft, we were able to make some moves for players that should be able to make an impact on the offense right away. The ability to re-sign Anthony Barr and Tom Johnson on the defensive side, allow some flexibility in the draft. Now, interior defensive line will still be a priority, but with Tom Johnson, Jaleel Johnson, Ifeadi Odenigbo and Jayln Holmes, the young talent is there for one of them to take the job in camp and preseason. With Easton’s injury still up in the air, he’d be penciled in as a starter right now, but then you’d look to add someone high in the draft to compete with him.
Looking at offensive line, the current group before the draft would now look like:
LT – Riley Reiff
LG – Nick Easton
C – Pat Elflein
RG – Mike Person
RT – Brian O’Neill
A few other positions I wasn’t able to address in free agency were backup quarterback and swing tackle. With Kyle Sloter unproven, expect the team to draft one at some point on Day 3. The top needs heading into the draft look something like, OL, DT, TE, QB, S, and WR in no particular order.
*All grades and stats cited from Pro Football Focus
* All cap numbers cited from OverTheCap.com