In case you spent your Sunday re-watching Zach LaVine highlights or crunching numbers to figure out the Wild’s playoff odds, my colleague Chip Scoggins wrote a pretty thorough column on the Adrian Peterson situation for Sunday’s newspaper.
With a pair of prominent Vikings decision-makers in Owner Mark Wilf and new COO Kevin Warren coming out last week in support of Peterson’s return, it’s obvious that the Vikings are making a concerted effort to smooth things over with the star back — or at least give that impression publicly.
The elephant in the room, of course, is his contract, currently the NFL’s biggest for a running back. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $12.75 million in 2015 with a cap hit of $15.4 million. The Vikings are expected to approach him about re-doing that deal to gain short-term relief.
But as Chip wrote in his Sunday column, the Vikings could always opt to simply pay the man and let him play at that salary this season. He mentioned former defensive end Jared Allen, whom the team allowed to return for the final year of his contract in 2013 despite a $17 million cap hit.
The Vikings are projected to have roughly $18 million in cap space depending on what the cap ceiling is set at this season. And since they don’t have to worry about re-signing any high-priority free agents, the Vikings have enough room to make some moves without leveraging Peterson into taking a pay cut.
And if they want to free up some cash to make a splash, there are other ways for the Vikings to do so. Here are four other ways they could *theoretically* create more cap room this offseason:
RELEASE CHAD GREENWAY: The 32-year-old linebacker missed four games due to injury in 2014 and watched both Gerald Hodges and Audie Cole play well in his absence. He has a cap hit of $8.8 million, but if the Vikings release him, they can save $7.1 million. Greenway took a $1 million pay cut to stick around last season. He will likely have to take an even bigger one to stay here for 2015.
RESTRUCTURE GREG JENNINGS: Peterson’s massive cap number doesn’t seem that out of whack when you put it next to that of Jennings. Jennings will make a base salary of $8.9 million and will have a cap hit of $11 million. That’s a lot for a player who has averaged 63.5 receptions for 773 yards and five touchdowns in his two seasons here. Re-doing the deal to bring it more in line with Jennings’ on-field value sounds good in theory, but would the receiver be receptive to doing it?
RELEASE CHARLIE JOHNSON: The veteran guard has a cap hit of $2.5 million, but the Vikings can simply release him to get all of that off the books. And that’s what they’re expected to do.
RESTRUCTURE BRIAN ROBISON: Robison, who turns 32 in April, had a down year in 2014 with just 4.5 sacks. The popular defensive end will make a base salary of $4.15 million in 2015 with a cap hit of $5.65 million. There might be an opportunity to shave his base salary and create some space.
One more ICYMI plug: I chatted late last week with running back Jerick McKinnon, who is on track after back surgery and expected to be ready for spring workouts. You can read that story here.