There has been much speculation over the past few months about what the Vikings might decide to do with oft-injured defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract.

But as the deadline for that fifth year to become fully guaranteed nears, it appears as though that decision will be taken out of their hands.

When the Vikings officially picked up Floyd's fifth-year option last May, his base salary of nearly $6.8 million was only guaranteed for injury at that time, meaning that if Floyd was healthy, they would have the ability to cut him before the 2017 league year with no salary cap ramifications.

But, with the key date of March 9 only eight days away, Floyd apparently has still not fully recovered from the left knee injury that required surgery in late September and was described as a clean-up at the time. Last Thursday, General Manager Rick Spielman said that he had just seen Floyd "continuing to rehab," suggesting Floyd couldn't yet pass a physical.

And, according to a league source familiar with the CBA, if Floyd can't pass a physical by March 9, the first day of the league year, then the injury guarantee comes into play, locking him in at $6.8 million for 2017.

Hypothetically speaking, if there was a dispute over whether or not Floyd is healthy and the Vikings terminated his contract before that deadline, Floyd could file a grievance with the NFLPA, the source said. There is no precedent for that since these options came into play in 2015, though.

Again, that's strictly a hypothetical scenario. The Vikings seem prepared to enter the league year with Floyd on their roster. Asked last Thursday if the 2013 first-round draft pick will be on the team next season, Spielman replied, "He is under contract for the Minnesota Vikings next year."

And, despite all the speculation that he will be a goner and despite coach Mike Zimmer's public tweaks of the defensive tackle, maybe the Vikings have wanted him back all along. That will certainly be how they present it if Floyd is indeed locked in for next season, one way or another.

But if Floyd, who played only one game last year and missed five games combined in 2014 and 2015, can actually stay healthy and on the field in 2017, there is no question he can be a difference-maker for them.

"When he is healthy, he's a pretty good player," Spielman said last week.