Now that their season is over, the Minnesota Vikings focus is on free agency and the eventual NFL Draft. There are questions on the future of the team.
From QB Kirk Cousins to WR Justin Jefferson, who is now eligible for a contract extension. A payday that likely would make him the highest paid receiver in the NFL.
But will they be able to?
What normally will happen is a team who makes the playoffs with a first-year head coach will funnel their resources (draft picks and cap space) into building a playoff roster into a championship contender. The same as the Kansas City Chiefs, LA Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, etc.
However, there’s a problem. They have six draft picks to work with (for now) but are in the middle of cap hell. Even with the cap expected to rise to well above $220 million across the league.
The Minnesota Vikings currently have the 23rd worst cap space in the league with -$8.1 million. At the moment, currently projected to be $24.4 million in cap space at the start of the new league year.
Four of the Vikings five highest cap hits are all 30 or older: Cousins, WR Adam Theilen, OT Brian O’Neil, DB Harrison Smith and Edge Za’Darius Smith. All with hits over $15 million each.
If the Vikings were to (hypothetically) trade all five (unlikely) with a Pre-June 1st designation, it would open $50 million in cap space.
All unlikely, but to illustrate an issue and real talking point the Vikings and the front office will have to face this off-season. Contracts will need to be maneuvered, assuming the players agree, some will be traded or cut.
Will they actually be able to pay Jefferson as a result? Does it put them further into the salary cap abyss if they wait a year and allow the WR market to open up to players like CeeDee Lamb, Ja’Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle to reset the market again?
The Minnesota Vikings won 13 games for only the third time in franchise history, but expect a large portion of this team to look different in 2023.
Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker of USA TODAY Sports