Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Are Vikings trying to restructure McKinnie deal?

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Bernard Berrian, Bryant McKinnie, Chad Greenway, Leslie Frazier, Madieu Williams Updated: July 29, 2011 - 8:48 AM

There were a few reports that emerged Thursday afternoon about the Vikings having an interest in Saints free-agent left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

The buzz about this didn't last long as the Saints were able to retain Bushrod by agreeing to a two-year contract. However, it did seem curious the Vikings were even mentioned. Minnesota has many needs and current left tackle Bryant McKinnie's play can be inconsistent, but in the free-agent frenzy of this week offensive tackle does not seem to be an area the Vikings should be spending a lot of time on.

That is unless they are looking for some type of leverage when it comes to McKinnie and his contract situation. The Vikings and all other NFL teams are going to need to be in compliance with the $120.3 million salary cap by Aug. 4, and it's likely the Minnesota brass is going to get creative to clear as much cap space as possible.

Rob Brzezinski, the Vikings vice president of football operations, is one of the best when it comes to the cap, so it wouldn't be surprising at all to see him exploring any means necessary to get this done. The Vikings started this process Thursday by releasing safety Madieu Williams (that move is believed to have saved the Vikings about $3.5 million in 2011 cap room) and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy ($250,000).

The assumption has been -- and still should be -- that the Vikings are going to need to extend the contracts (and lessen the 2011 cap hits) of running back Adrian Peterson and linebacker Chad Greenway.

But McKinnie could be a prime candidate to have his contract re-worked, along with wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Both are clients of agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

McKinnie, who is entering his 10th NFL season, signed a seven-year, $48.5 million extension in September 2006 that included $17.25 million in new guarantees. It was a major investment and sometimes McKinnie is worth it.

McKinnie's cap number for this season is $5.4 million and he has a base salary of $4.9 million with a $500,000 roster bonus. His base salaries for the final two seasons of the contract (2012 and 2013) are $4.5 million and $4.0 million with cap numbers of $6.5 million in each year.

Could the Vikings be trying to alter those figures? Some of that may depend on what new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and offensive line coach Jeff Davidson think of McKinnie and have told coach Leslie Frazier and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman.

It just seems interesting that the name of a left tackle would suddenly come up if the Vikings were completely content with McKinnie at his current price.

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