For years, the Vikings have envisioned 2018 as the year they would need to devote top dollar at quarterback, first thinking it could be Teddy Bridgewater and then Sam Bradford. Instead, the Vikings were 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 have about $20 million in cap space, according to NFLPA records. General Manager Rick Spielman and cap manager Rob Brzezinski face an interesting summer considering those on the team who will be free agents in 2019 and the franchise’s all-in Super Bowl pursuit.
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, as well as clauses allowing Cousins to veto a trade or transition tag.
The Vikings made another splash by outbidding the Seahawks for Richardson, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract with an additional $3 million in incentives to further entice the 2013 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 OverTheCap.com.
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 the running back’s 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. They also will make more free-agent moves, including possible re-signings of kicker Kai Forbath, cornerback Terence Newman or cornerback Marcus Sherels. They could be in the ballpark of $7 million for those three, or similar free agents.
That would leave roughly $10 million on this year’s cap with key players such as 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.