Salary Cap Analysis Prior to Roster Moves:
Projected 2017 NFL Salary Cap: $167,000,000
Vikings Salary Cap Carryover: $400,184
Mn Vikings Team Cap: $167,400,184
Vikings Active Roster Spend: ($125,103,156)
Vikings Dead Money: ($4,347,810)
Team Cap Space: $37,949,218
As with prior analysis both rookie contracts and cushion for in-season moves will need to be accounted for. With the Vikings willingness to spend more aggressively, I’ve reduced the in-season cushion to $3M.
Rookie Draft Pool: ($5,073,548)
In-Season Cushion: ($3,000,000)
Top-51 Roster Adjustment: $3,777,108
Total Deduction from Cap: ($4,296,440)
After declining Peterson’s option this past week the Vikings have opened up just short of $40M in cap space before accounting for rookie contracts and in-season flexibility. Once you assume that money isn’t easily spendable the Vikings could spend roughly $33,652,778 on in-house free agents and unrestricted free agents once the market open next Thursday. With more information coming available over the past week and during the combine, the Vikings offseason goals are becoming more and more apparent. With a week to go this is really the best time to put together a more realistic mock offseason.
Vikings In-House Free Agent Decisions
Restricted Free Agents / Exclusive Rights:
· Adam Thielen [RFA] (WR): The Vikings have some flexibility at the WR position, but an extension for Thielen likely wouldn’t come until later in the off-season. At this point the Vikings should slap a 2nd round tender worth roughly $2.81M on him to see where it goes. If another team signs Adam to an offer sheet the Vikings ultimately can decide how much they’re willing to spend on a receiver who has one real season of NFL production aside from special teams work. The trade-off is that if they decline to match any deal the Vikings would receive a 2nd round pick. Ultimately I see Adam returning to the Vikings.
· Charles Johnson [RFA] (WR): The Vikings will likely non-tender Johnson and attempt to resign him close to the minimum salary for a player with 3 accrued seasons. Johnson hasn’t made the impact expected of him the past two seasons, but a camp tryout at $750K or so makes a lot of sense.
· Jeremiah Sirles [RFA] (OT/OG): Sirles was far from the problem along the Vikings O-line and can be a valuable depth piece, he may even be capable of competing for a starting spot in camp. The original draft round tender may end up being in his future, but he may agree to a deal closer to $950K in 2017.
· C.J Ham [ERFA] (RB): He looked good in camp and there is no reason to let him go since he compete as depth at $465K
· Willie Beavers [ERFA] (OT): The Vikings are hoping they can develop the highest draft pick they’ve ever cut prior to a regular season contest. Tender at $540K
· Rashod Hill [ERFA] (OT): After looking good in week 17, there is no reason to let Hill walk without seeing him for a longer period of time. Tender at $540K
· Zac Kerin [ERFA] (OG): Non-tender, Easton has taken his spot at center and Kerin hasn’t proven to be an effective OG.
· Toby Johnson [ERFA] (DT): After looking good in the preseason, Johnson was called to the active roster late in the year. He has some potential to be a depth piece the Vikings roster. Tender at $540K
Total Commitment to Restricted/Exclusive Right Free Agents: ($6,595,000)
Top 51 Cap Commitment Adjustment: $1,611,270
Cap Impact: ($4,983,730)
Unrestricted Free Agents:
· Chad Greenway (OLB): At this point it appears that Chad will walk away from football and enter retirement. He could have second thoughts once OTA’s pass, but that isn’t something that needs to be taken into consideration during this exercise.
· Terence Newman (CB): At 38 years old, Newman continued to excel as an NFL DB. At this point in his career he is living off game preparation and strong instincts. Although Newman may be interested in returning for another season at age 39, the Vikings may be more inclined to attempt and keep Captain Munnerlyn. Mackensie Alexander isn’t strictly a nickel CB and can rotate on the outside if needed, filling Newman’s role internally.
· Cordarrelle Patterson (WR): When looking at Cordarrelle Patterson it is easy to see the on-field potential and elite kick return skills. However, he just couldn’t put everything together in Minnesota. Patterson makes for a good #3 if not great #4 WR on the Vikings roster with elite ST’s potential. You can only pay that type of player so much and Patterson is going to find a team willing to pay for his raw WR ability on the open market. Unless Patterson has a strong interest in taking a hometown discount he is likely on his way out.
· Rhett Ellison (TE): Prior to his patellar tendon injury Ellison was an irreplaceable piece in the Vikings blocking scheme. Although he returned from his injury successfully in 2016 a replacement in David Morgan is a cheaper alternative for a pure blocking piece with limited offensive upside.
· Captain Munnerlyn (CB): It really isn’t a question of whether other teams will be willing to pay Captain or not. The question is how much the Vikings value a nickleback. I’m not personally convinced the Vikings want to limit Mac to the slot making Munnerlyn’s return that much more important. It won’t be cheap, but a new 3 year deal near worth $18M is likely the market rate if not a slight hometown discount. Based on the Vikings precedence of front-loading deals look for a full $6M cap hit in 17’.
· Jake Long (OT): After knocking off some of the rust that came from sitting on the street Long looked alright in his short stint as the Vikings LT. The unfortunate achilles injury he suffered vs. Washington was just another serious injury added to an already long list. At this point you need to ask if Long would be better off retiring and protecting his long-term health.
· Audi Cole (ILB): Over the years Audi has continually found a way to find his way onto the Vikings roster. This past season he was a very strong special teams player. If needed in a pinch he understands the Vikings defensive scheme and could arguably compete for some playing time in camp. If he is willing to continue on a year-to-year deal he is worth a 1 year contract worth around $1M.
· Matt Asiata (RB): After releasing Adrian Peterson (for the time being) it makes sense to retain Asiata into training camp. Although he wasn’t the most effective runner during the 2016 season he does play well on 3rd downs. He has a somewhat reliable set of hands and picks up protections well. It will be the Vikings to find competition in FA and the draft. He is worth a contract with limited guarantees for 1 year and $950K.
· Justin Trattou (DE): At this point the Vikings have done a good job of stocking up on developmental 4-3 edge rushers. Trattou has proven to be a valuable depth piece but his time on the Vikings roster is likely up with another crop of rookies coming in this fall.
· Jeff Locke (P): After struggling almost all of 2015, Locke made significant improvement kicking indoors at USB Stadium. Although there were still some inconsistencies and the VIkings brought in competition in the form of Taylor Symmank, they’d still like to bring back Locke. Regardless of how the competition plays out over OTAs/Camp Locke is a middle of the road punter worth bring back for $1.5M on a one year deal.
· Andre Smith (OT): After degressing in Cincinnati the Vikings brought in Smith to compete with Phil Loadholt who retired before the competition could commence. Early in the season Smith struggled mightily before being sidelined with the majority of the Vikings O-line. Smith deserves a shot to prove-it one last time on an NFL roster, but the Vikings aren’t going to compete with other teams to keep him.
· Matt Kalil (OT): The next week is going to be very interesting for Kalil and his representation. With a weak crop of OT’s hitting the open market, Kalil has a chance to take advantage of the leverage handed to him. As a pure LT there will be interest from other teams and the real question will be if he can find a deal that gives him a middle of the road LT salary along with competitive term (4 years). He would likely give the Vikings a slightly hometown discount, but I would say the gut feeling is there is slightly under a 50/50 chance he returns at the Vikings choice at LT due to another team willing to give him additional years.
Total Commitment for In-house free agents: ($9,450,000)
Top 51 Cap Commitment Adjustment: $2,176,056
Cap Impact: ($7,273,944)
Spendable Cap Space (Above): $33,652,778
RFA / ERFA: ($4,983,730)
In-house FA: ($7,273,944)
Remaining Cap: $21,395,104
· Scott Crichton (DE/DT): He hasn’t worked out thus far during his time in MN. Other players on the roster have overtaken him and he likely will be released. Savings of $933K
· Antone Exum Jr. (S): There have been flashes from Exum, but Harris and Kearse seem to be the two safeties competing for the depth positions. Savings of $719K
Cap Space Created: $1,652,000
Top 51 Cap Commitment Adjustment: ($1,080,000)
Cap Impact: $572,000
· Russell Okung (OT): After the Broncos declined Okung’s option he will be hitting the FA market once again and will generate plenty of interest. Okung isn’t a stellar LT, but beggars cannot be choosers given the market conditions. Okung is a good run blocker who is inconsistent in pass protection. Ideally the Vikings can sign Okung to a middle tier LT contract and find a development LT. Once the developmental player is ready to play Okung would make a suitable RT. Ricky Wagner is a RT of interest for the Vikings but the dozen or so of other teams interested will likely price him out of the Vikings range. Okung should be had on a 3 year deal for roughly $24M. Assume a cap hit of $8M in 2017.
· Larry Warford (OG): The Vikings will have their hands all over the OG market when the FA window opens and will aggressively spend to fix the right side of their O-line. Lang/Zeitler make sense but may find an immediate flood of calls for interested teams. Warford is in the mold of FA’s the Vikings have targeted in prior seasons. He is young, has shown production on the field, and still have potential to grow. The Vikings shouldn’t be afraid to give Wardaddy (his actual nickname) a 5 year deal worth $42.25M. The cap hit in year one would be roughly $8.5M.
· Stacy McGee (DT): On the defensive side of the ball the Vikings need to continue to bolster their interior defensive line depth. McGee isn’t a starting caliber player but can be a high-end backup or rotational player when healthy. He plays the run fairly well but has the athletic ability to get after the passer when the opportunity presents itself. Although this mock plans on Floyd returning, the depth is sorely needed. McGee won’t command much on a one year deal worth $1.25M or so.
· Brian Quick (WR): With the loss of Patterson as an outside receiver, the Vikings could use some depth. Quick hasn’t been able to put it together after being a high 2nd round pick for the Rams. He doesn’t do one thing particularly well but has decent hands and the size you look for at split-end. Quick wouldn’t be relied on heavily but could eat some snaps if he could earn the opportunity in camp. He could be had on a one year deal worth $1.5M.
· Other Misc. Depth Signings: To fill out the roster and provide competition in camp.
Total Commitment for UFAs: ($19,250,000)
Top 51 Cap Commitment Adjustment: $2,399,441
Cap Impact: ($16,850,559)
Total Remaining Cap Space (Using Above Total): $5,116,545
**the remaining amount will be applied to the misc. depth signings and the potential signing bonus proration on a Xavier Rhodes extension.
· Round 2: Dion Dawkins (OG/OT, Temple): Dawkins has the positional flexibility the Vikings strive to find in their offensive lineman. Coming in on day one Dawkins should be able to seriously compete for the starting role at RT. Temple plays their lineman out of a 3-point stance which eases the transition to the NFL game. Due to his length and frame Dawkins could have a future at LT or could always be kicked inside to OG if needed. Most likely he can hold down the RT spot for years to come.
· Round 3: D’Onta Foreman (RB, Texas): After spending money and a high draft pick on the offensive line the Vikings need to find a way to improve their running game. The inability to get positive yardage on 1st down and convert 3rd and short killed drives all season long. Foreman is a powerful runner who has the sneaky speed to reel off long gains down the field. He could come in as a workhorse but would be a strong compliment to Jerrick Mckinnon in a committee approach. Foreman’s combine could raise his stock significantly but in a deep class of HB’s he could still last until the early 3rd.
· Round 3 [MIA]: Isaac Asiata (OG, Utah): The Vikings could still double up on the offensive line early in the draft if they attack it aggressively in free agency. Asiata (yes, related) needs a bit more development but projects as an average LG in the NFL due to his strong pass protection traits. After spending big money on Warford and Boone having no additional guarantees in his deal after 2017, Asiata could provide some cost control along the line which would allow the Vikings to extend their young talent on the defensive side of the ball. This move would also allow Boone to slide to LT in the event of an injury.
· Round 4: Brad Kaaya (QB, Miami): If 2016 didn’t teach the Vikings their lesson on stocking up at the QB position, I don’t know what will. Kaaya has the potential to develop into more than a backup QB in the league and would have the time to do so in MN. Kaaya has shown a tendency to struggle and hold the ball while under pressure but when given time in the pocket can light it up. The Vikings do not think as highly as Taylor Heinicke as many fans do. Kaaya is the immediate backup in 2017 until Bridgewater is ready to return. He continue as the backup into the future after a QB decision is made next off-season.
· Round 4 [MIA]: Tanzel Smart (DT, Tulane): With Floyd returning on the 5th year option it is time to get some interior pass rushing depth behind him. Smart is a bit undersized but plays with good leverage and explosiveness to consistently find his way into the backfield. He immediately could get snaps in a rotation but could develop into the future 3-tech with the proper coaching he would get in MN.
· Round 5: Jalen Myrick (CB, Minnesota): Staying close to home the Vikings pick up some solid depth at CB. QB’s in the Big 10 had a hard time going against Myrick in both 2015 & 2016. Although he is a developmental corner, he becomes the favorite at kick returner entering the season.
· Round 6: Jayon Brown (LB, UCLA): Although Zimmer has coached up both Emmanuel Lamur & Edmond Robinson adding another all-around LB wouldn’t hurt. At worst Brown can make an immediate impact on special teams. UCLA has put some good linebackers in the league as of late and there is no reason to close the door on another when the need for depth is there.
· Round 7: Ifeadi Odenigbo (DE, Northwestern): There is no reason to leave a player with decent measurables on the board in the 7th when you have a coach capable of developing defensive talent.
Vikings Roster Post Draft:
QB: Sam Bradford / Teddy Bridgewater (PUP) / Brad Kaaya / Taylor Heinicke
RB: D’Onta Foreman / Jerrick McKinnon / Matt Asiata / C.J Ham / Bishop Sankey
WR: Stefon Diggs / Adam Thielen / LaQuon Treadwell / Jarius Wright / Brian Quick / Isaac Fruechte / Moritz Bohringer / Cayleb Jones / UDFA(1) / UDFA(2)
TE: Kyle Rudolph / David Morgan / Kyle Carter / UDFA
LT: Russell Okung / Rashod Hill / Austin Shepherd
LG: Alex Boone / Isaac Asiata / UDFA
C: Joe Berger / Nick Easton
RG: Larry Warford / Jeremiah Sirles
RT: Dion Dawkins / T.J. Clemmings / Willie Beavers / Reid Fragel
RE: Everson Griffen / Stephen Weatherly / Sterling Bailey
NT: Linval Joseph / Shamar Stephen / Stacy McGee / B.J Dubose / UDFA
DT: Sharrif Floyd / Tom Johnson / Tanzel Smart / Toby Johnson
LE: Brian Robison / Danielle Hunter / Ifeadi Odenigbo
OLB: Anthony Barr / Emmanuel Lamur / Edmond Robinson / Jayon Brown
ILB: Eric Kendricks / Audi Cole / Kentrell Brothers / UDFA
CB: Xavier Rhodes / Trae Waynes / Captain Munnerlyn / Mackenzie Alexander / Jabari Price / Jalen Myrick / Tre Roberson / UDFA(1) / UDFA(2)
S: Harrison Smith / Andrew Sendejo / Anthony Harris / Jayron Kearse / UDFA
KR/PR: Jalen Myrick / Marcus Sherels
P: Jeff Locke / Taylor Symmank
K: Kai Forbath / Marshall Koehn
*Additional roster spots will be filled with depth players