Minnesota Vikings: Tough Decisions in Minneapolis

The 2019 season pretty much lived up to expectation for the Minnesota Vikings. They were good without ever truly being dominant but managed to spring a surprise in the playoffs to eliminate New Orleans on the road. Entering the season it was the offense where the question marks were placed, but by seasons end it was the defense which was routinely being highlighted for poor performances.

General Manager: Rick Spielman

Head Coach: Mike Zimmer

Brief blurb about head coach. If not much to say just mention the recent record of the team since the Head Coach took over

Cap Space: -$11.2 million

Buy Sell Hold. NFL Divisional Round: Keys to victory, Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are in a world of pain when it comes to their 2020 cap space. An $11m hole combined with a team that needs some serious upgrades on the back end of their defense is a tough place to be. The problem is magnified when you consider that they only have 12 players they can release who would open up more than $2m in cap space and many of them are key parts of the teams success.

There is already talk that Stefon Diggs may be on the move via a trade, but even that would only open $5.5m while seeing the Vikings eat $9m in cap space. Danielle Hunter currently offers the same equation but it is extremely unlikely the Vikings move on from him this offseason.

When you look at their cap hits there is a big four on defense which hold the key to a huge amount of cap space. Everson Griffen has a club option with just $800K guaranteed on his contract and could open up over $13m if they decide to let him head to free agency. Linval Joseph ($10.5m), Harrison Smith ($8.75m) and Xavier Rhodes ($8.1m) offer potential combinations to get them back in the black, but all are considered relatively key components of that defense. In terms of play last year Joseph and Rhodes are perhaps the most vulnerable. However, cutting Rhodes would leave a massive hole to fill at corner this offseason.

Left tackle Riley Reiff is another player who could be released to open up $8.8m, but Reiff is an adequate contributor who would cost a lot more than his $13.2m salary to replace unless they roll with a rookie. Perhaps the most likely cut candidate could be veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph. The emergence of Irv Smith makes Rudolph somewhat expendable, but after signing a new contract last offseason he would only clear $3m while counting over $5m in dead cap.

Impending Free Agents

A positive for the Vikings is that outside of the Griffen decision they do not have many free agents that they should be desperate to retain. Trae Waynes play fell off in a big way in 2019, as he was widely criticised. Andrew Sendejo is perhaps their most talented free agent, but at 32 the Vikings should probably look to move on.

Essentially the only real decision here is on Griffen and the cap space makes that decision for them. They can decline the option and then look at bringing him back at a smaller cap number if a competitive market for him does not materialise.

Team Needs

Major Need: Secondary

The biggest need here is at corner and could get even worse if they decide to move on from Rhodes. However, with Sendejo expected to head to free agency they also need a partner at safety for Harrison Smith. The good news is that this draft is expected to be loaded at corner, which could mean the Vikings can make a run at a veteran safety in free agency.

Major Need: Offensive Line

It seems we talk about the Vikings offensive line every offseason. Honestly they need major improvements at most positions, while also needing to see the play of rookie Garrett Bradbury improve in a big way in 2020. If they can get some more talent at guard and strengthen their tackle depth then they can at least be serviceable in 2020. They will be hoping to find a guard who can come in and play immediately, while also looking for a tackle who can compete with Reiff and at the very least allow them to move on from Reiff next offseason.

Ben Rolfe

Head of NFL Content



Image credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports