The Vikings held a Thursday news conference to introduce the two defenders they'd signed in free agency, with General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah calling former Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and former Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks two examples of times where "you can feel really good about the decision you made."

The newsiest decisions the Vikings made in Week 1 of free agency, though, were the ones that involved three players already on their roster, all in their 30s and in at least their second contract with the team.

Sunday night, the Vikings agreed to a one-year extension with quarterback Kirk Cousins, reducing his 2022 salary cap number by $13.7 million while giving the 33-year-old the no-trade clause he'd had on his first deal with the team.

Thursday morning, the team converted 33-year-old safety Harrison Smith's $8 million roster bonus to a signing bonus, deferring $6 million of costs from their 2022 cap and clearing enough space for Phillips and Hicks to sign their contracts before Thursday afternoon's news conference.

On Friday morning, the Vikings finished a week's worth of negotiations on a new deal for Adam Thielen that gave the 31-year-old receiver a $9 million signing bonus and $18 million in guaranteed money while adding a void year in 2025 to reduce his 2022 salary cap figure. And though sources said this week the Vikings had looked at trading Danielle Hunter, they had not made a deal to ship the pass rusher elsewhere as of Saturday night, before his $18 million roster bonus becomes guaranteed on Sunday.

This week, the Vikings opted not to follow through on the considerations they'd had, however briefly, about a hard reset, instead making moves to keep veterans on their roster while clearing enough cap space to sign several free agents and perhaps satisfy the Wilf family's stated expectation the Vikings be "super-competitive" in 2022.

It felt similar to what the team had done in recent offseasons under former GM Rick Spielman, asking executive vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski to perform a series of contract maneuvers to get their books ready for the season.

The Vikings' actions this week also meant the continuation of a familiar problem: They'll head into future seasons with less cap space than many of their NFL counterparts.

Only seven teams — the Saints, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Titans, Chargers, Broncos and Eagles — have more salary cap commitments in 2023 than the Vikings, who had $183.77 million of cap space committed to 34 players for next year (not counting the 2023 savings they're expected to realize from Thielen's extension).

The Vikings already have $118.75 million (the 12th-highest figure in the league) committed to 18 players in 2024, a year that comes with two important caveats.

First, they might need a quarterback; Kellen Mond is the only passer signed through 2024, with Cousins' $12.5 million cap figure representing the two void years in his new deal. And second, they'll need to determine how to compensate Justin Jefferson as he approaches an open market that Davante Adams just reset.

Adams' five-year, $141 million deal from the Raiders makes him the NFL's highest-paid receiver by average annual value, with a $28.2 million figure that surpasses DeAndre Hopkins' $27.5 million amount in Arizona. If Jefferson wants a top-of-the-market deal, he'd likely be approaching the $30 million-per-year mark by the time he hits free agency after the 2024 season, meaning the Vikings could need to budget for an extension that makes it worth Jefferson's while not to hit free agency.

The salary cap is expected to climb thanks to new TV deals, but it's difficult to pay both a quarterback and a receiver that much while building a competitive roster elsewhere. The Vikings could save money with a quarterback on a rookie deal by 2024, but they'd have to ensure Jefferson — who's been part of 18 losses in two years with the Vikings after taking part in just seven during three seasons at LSU — would be patient enough to grow with a young passer.

The Vikings will have the option to clear cap space in future years by cutting, trading or restructuring the contracts of players like Smith, Thielen or running back Dalvin Cook, but parting with any of those players would mean significant dead money charges, either to be incurred in 2023 or spread out over 2023 and 2024. And while cap spikes will give the Vikings room to operate, they'll do the same for every other team, driving up player salaries in the process.

At least with Hunter, as of Saturday night, the Vikings had not opted to push costs into future seasons by converting his roster bonus to a signing bonus. Hunter's contract, though, says that "during the duration of this Contract, [the Vikings] shall have the right, but not the obligation, to convert any portion of [Hunter's] 2022 Roster Bonus into signing bonus."

If the Vikings converted Hunter's roster bonus to a signing bonus, his contract says, the roster bonus "will be reduced (dollar for dollar) by the amount equal to the portion of [Hunter's] 2022 Roster Bonus that was converted into signing bonus." He would still receive the bonus in three equal payments: one within 10 days of him reporting to training camp on time, one on Sept. 30 and one on Nov. 30.

Adofo-Mensah talked on Thursday about the winner's curse, an economic phenomenon that occurs when bidders overspend for an item in an auction, and it could be taken as either an explanation for why the Vikings could be cautious in the future or a lament over their current constraints.

"The job isn't to win the bidding war, the job is to win the objective of building a team, the best team you can, with the resources you have at your disposal," Adofo-Mensah said. "Those things can connect, not often, but they can connect at times."

It will take some time to see the Vikings' strategy under Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O'Connell come to fruition, partially because the moves the team made before this season left the new regime with limited options for how to manage their 2022 books and remain competitive.

Particularly with a Jefferson decision looming, though, the Vikings will have tough choices to make for the foreseeable future. The point where they can head into an offseason, flush with cap space and ready to operate with few financial repercussions, still appears to be a ways off.