After another unproductive season on offense, the Vikings this offseason spent big bucks on that side of the ball, signing a pricey pair of tackles, a new running back and recently an established pass-catcher.
But the offensive player who has impacted their 2017 financial situation the most is the guy they boldly acquired days before the 2016 season.
The addition of Sam Bradford was a necessary one for the Vikings, who were willing to give up their first-round pick because Bradford would be under contract this season, too. But his $18 million salary suddenly makes them one of the NFL’s biggest spenders at quarterback after they had ranked among the league’s lowest the previous two seasons.
With Bradford representing the highest salary on the team, the Vikings are using $80.8 million of their salary cap space on the offensive side of the ball this season, which ranks 19th in the league per OverTheCap.com, the premier website for NFL contract and salary cap information.
Today on the blog, we will do our annual two-part look at the team’s cap spending, starting with the offense. Tuesday, we will examine their spending on defense, which is $83.7 million this season, and special teams.
QUARTERBACKS ($23.2 million, seventh in the NFL): When young starter Teddy Bridgewater suffered a career-threatening knee injury last August and the Vikings traded for Bradford, their salary-cap calculus got flipped from an enviable position to a prohibitive one. When they had their starting quarterback on a dirt-cheap rookie deal, the Vikings were able to spend big at other positions (include the next one on this list). But now with Bradford behind center at an $18 million cap hit, Bridgewater on the mend and still on the books at $2.2 million and Case Keenum with a $1.9 million hit, they are paying a premium at quarterback. That $23.2 million devoted to the position is more than what the Packers, Colts, Steelers, Saints and Seahawks, among many others, are setting aside for signal-callers.
RUNNING BACKS ($5.9 million, 20th in the NFL): In the past two seasons and three of the last four, no team devoted more cap space to running backs than the Vikings, who bucked the recent trend that devalued that position and instead paid their perennial Pro Bowler, Adrian Peterson, an eight-figure salary. As you might have heard, the Vikings parted ways with Peterson this offseason and signed Latavius Murray to a fraction of what would have been Peterson’s salary. And with Jerick McKinnon and Dalvin Cook on rookie deals, they now have a much cheaper backfield.
WIDE RECEIVERS ($14.0 million, 26th in the NFL): The team’s highest-paid wide receiver is Adam Thielen, whose offseason extension makes him the 39th-highest paid player at his position based on average annual salary. Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell, who are projected as 2017 starters, are on rookie deals. Note that OverTheCap’s figures do not yet include the one-year, $1.5 million contract Michael Floyd signed last week. Once that is added, the Vikings should jump up a couple of spots.
TIGHT ENDS ($8.8 million, 19th in the NFL): Only six Vikings players have a higher 2017 cap number than Kyle Rudolph, who is at $6.8 million. But the rest of their tight ends, which is a collection of unproven youngsters, have a combined cap hit of only $2 million. They did try to sign Jared Cook in free agency, but he took a two-year, $10.6 million deal in Oakland.
OFFENSIVE LINE ($28.9 million, 16th in the NFL): The Vikings threw a bunch of cash at offensive tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in free agency. But, believe it or not, they are actually devoting far less cap space to their offensive line than they did a year ago, when their cap spending at that critical position group topped $40 million. That’s because last year they had Matt Kalil’s $11.1 million salary on the books and significant cap hits for Brandon Fusco and Andre Smith, who are all no longer with the team. Riley and Remmers have a combined cap hit of $13.6 million and they may start a 2017 third-round pick, Pat Elflein, at one spot on the line and Nick Easton, who is on an undrafted free agent deal, at another.