The Vikings now have first-round pick Garrett Bradbury under contract and tight end Kyle Rudolph still on the roster after restructuring the contract of another veteran Tuesday.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks signed a restructured contract that converted $2.15 million of his $4.15 million base salary into a signing bonus, a league source told the Star Tribune, freeing up nearly $1.7 million in salary cap space for this season. It was immediately used to sign Bradbury on Tuesday, so the Vikings eventually will need more cap space to prepare for the regular season and eventual injury replacements.
The dotted line was easy to sign, Kendricks said, because the cash value ($4.5 million) of his deal does not change.
“Just trying to help the team,” Kendricks said Tuesday afternoon at Target Field, where Vikings players mingled with Twins and Angels players over batting practice.
Bradbury, the 18th overall pick, signed a four-year deal with a fifth-year team option. His contract is expected to be worth nearly $13 million with a $7.4 million signing bonus and count $2.34 million against the 2019 salary cap.
The Vikings have signed 11 of 12 draft picks, leaving only Air Force Academy long snapper Austin Cutting, a seventh-round pick, unsigned.
Bradbury, the 6-3, 305-pound center from North Carolina State, won the Rimington Award as the top center in college football and has the versatility to play all three interior line positions. He lined up almost exclusively at center during his first practice May 3, the start of rookie minicamp. The Vikings haven’t given official word on his position.
“We’ll make a decision quickly and let it go,” Zimmer said earlier this month.
Kendricks now has a $2 million base salary this season after the Vikings converted some of his money into a signing bonus, allowing the team to spread the money over the remaining five years of cap hits. The type of conversion is often built into lucrative multiyear contracts, allowing the team to create salary cap space at will.
It’s also a break in the mold for a Vikings front office that doesn’t often kick the can down the road. While the restructuring lowered Kendricks’ cap hit to around $4.8 million for this season, it raised his number for each of the next five seasons by $430,000. Still, the Vikings’ four-time leading tackler is a safe bet to stick around a while and help solve a current salary cap crunch.
Bradbury’s signing displaced much of the room created. The Vikings entered Tuesday with $664,266 in cap space, the least in the NFL.
Still lingering is the uncertain status of Rudolph, the 29-year-old Pro Bowl tight end who said Monday he’d like a resolution “sooner rather than later” to his contract set to pay him $7.625 million, none guaranteed, in its final season. Rudolph’s agent, Brian Murphy, also represents Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes, who enters a contract season and could provide cap relief (at the cost of more money) with a new deal.
General Manager Rick Spielman will need to create salary cap space just to get the Vikings roster into Week 1, when all 63 players (including a 10-man practice squad) count against the cap as opposed to the 51-player rule during the offseason.
Rudolph also said, “you can’t pay everybody,” four words that could spell his future with the Vikings depending on many factors, including potential trade offers and contract negotiations halted last week.
“Man, you can go around the locker room, everybody wants to be on this team,” Kendricks said. “Everybody wants to play — it’s no secret. We just have to go get it done now.”