The Vikings envisioned 2018 a year when it’d need to devote top dollar at quarterback, first thinking it could be Teddy Bridgewater and then Sam Bradford. So Minnesota was 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 sit with around $20 million in cap space, according to NFLPA records. General manager Rick Spielman and cap manager Rob Brzezinski face an interesting summer considering their 2019 free agents and the ‘all-in’ Super Bowl refrain.
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, and clauses allowing Cousins to veto a trade or transition tag.
The Vikings made another splash by outbidding the Seahawks for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract with an additional $3 million in incentives to further entice the former 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 his 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. The Vikings also will make more free-agent signings, including possible re-signings like kicker Kai Forbath, cornerback Terence Newman or cornerback Marcus Sherels. Let’s ballpark $7 million for those three, or similar free agents.
That’d leave roughly $10 million on this year’s cap with key players like 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.