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Access Vikings

Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

Report: Vikings to open season with Thursday night rematch in Philadelphia

The Vikings’ last game of the 2017 season was in Philadelphia, where they’ll return to kick off the 2018 regular season, according to a report from 94WIP radio in Philadelphia.

There’s little surprise the NFL would want to air the rematch of the NFC Conference Championship in a marquee spot — the 2018 opener on Thursday, Sept. 6 — after the Vikings added this offseason’s top free agency prize in quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Vikings were shellacked by the eventual Super Bowl-champion Eagles, losing 38-7 in January, but now have a 4,000-yard thrower in the fold.

The Vikings also added defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on a one-year, $8 million contract last week. The move helps Minnesota keep up in the defensive line arms race with the Eagles, who added Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata to its defensive line after free agency opened last week.

The Eagles will also return quarterback Carson Wentz to the lineup after he suffered a torn ACL late last season.

Additional storylines will come off the field after Vikings fans and family of players reported harassment from Eagles fans during the previous trip to Philadelphia. Six people were arrested that day, according to local media reports; three for selling fake tickets and one for punching a police horse.

How will Vikings use remaining salary cap space after free-agent flurry?

The Vikings envisioned 2018 a year when it’d need to devote top dollar at quarterback, first thinking it could be Teddy Bridgewater and then Sam Bradford. So Minnesota was uncharacteristically among the NFL’s top spenders during the biggest wave of free agency last week.

After a flurry of moves, including the additions of quarterback Kirk Cousins and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, the Vikings sit with around $20 million in cap space, according to NFLPA records. General manager Rick Spielman and cap manager Rob Brzezinski face an interesting summer considering their 2019 free agents and the ‘all-in’ Super Bowl refrain.

About half of the Vikings’ $50 million available space at the start of the league year was spent on Cousins, the franchise quarterback who will command a $24 million cap hit this season. His three-year deal comes with guaranteed base salaries of $22.5 million, $27.5 million and $29.5 million, and clauses allowing Cousins to veto a trade or transition tag.

The Vikings made another splash by outbidding the Seahawks for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract with an additional $3 million in incentives to further entice the former first-round pick. Richardson fills a big need for the defensive line at a premium price alongside Linval Joseph ($8.05 million cap hit). The Vikings now devote the sixth-most salary cap space to its defensive line, according to

Jarius Wright’s release ($2.64 million freed) and Latavius Murray’s restructure ($1.15 million) created additional space late last week to buoy the total to about $20 million. Murray’s restructure guaranteed his reduced $3.65 million salary for the upcoming season, and allows him to become a free agent after this year.

Figure about $2 million to $3 million in salary cap space needed for the Vikings’ eight-pick draft. The Vikings also will make more free-agent signings, including possible re-signings like kicker Kai Forbath, cornerback Terence Newman or cornerback Marcus Sherels. Let’s ballpark $7 million for those three, or similar free agents.

That’d leave roughly $10 million on this year’s cap with key players like Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter, Stefon Diggs and Eric Kendricks set to hit free agency in 2019. The Vikings could actually create space with an extension for Barr by lessening his $12.3 million cap hit, spreading the money out over more seasons. But it remains to be seen if the Vikings will be able to keep everybody happy.

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