Before you assume the #Vikings are prepping for another “big move”, just remember they still have to extend Cook.— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) March 22, 2020
As fans around Vikings Nation struggle to become NFL salary cap experts through just one month of quarantine, one contract continues to get overlooked… and that’s Dalvin Cook’s.
Chad Graff of The Athletic fixed that on Friday, though. He wrote a story verifying the Vikings‘ interest in extending Dalvin long-term. He even put a month (April) when the negotiations would start and the amount of salary cap it might take for the Vikings in 2020.
The team made a couple of moves yesterday, after Graff wrote this, but I have updated numbers below.
Actual negotiations between the sides were tabled until April to allow the Vikings time to focus on free agency in March. But both want to be proactive with hopes of inking Cook to an extension before a holdout would be possible.
The Vikings’ feelings toward Cook have been on display the last past few weeks as the team has mostly sat out negotiations with big-money free agents. Even if it’s been maddening to fans who have watched several starters leave the Vikings with few replacements in sight, the team has wanted to set aside some salary cap space to be able to sign Cook to a new deal, as well as sign their draft class. Everything depends on how a potential extension is structured, but there’s belief the team may need around $6 million in cap space this season if they’re able to sign a new deal with Cook. They have a little more than $10 million in space as of now, and also need to sign their draft class.Chad Graff – The Athletic
According to Spotrac.com, the Vikings have $11M of cap space left, not including what they will need for the NFL draft. The exact number they have available is hard to come up with because only your top-51 players qualify against the salary cap (even though you can have 53 players on roster, thanks to the new CBA).
Some players who are on the roster now, will be replaced with drafted prospects down the road. So while, the Vikings might need ~$10M for their draft pool, they won’t need that much salary cap space available.
Example (info from Spotrac.com): Brandon Dillon is currently the 51st-highest paid player on the Vikings roster for 2020 ($610K). The first 6 picks of the Vikings draft are currently slotted to make more than that. Those players will replace (NOT ADD TO) Dillon’s (and others) cap hit when they are eventually drafted and counted against the cap. That makes the hit of that $10M+ draft pool feel much lighter from a salary cap standpoint.
If we trust what Chad Graff is reporting (we should), and we assume Dalvin Cook will get his extension at some point (he will), then we can set aside about $6M for him in 2020, whether it’s physically there or not. Negotiations could take months to work out the details but the dollar value they’ve set aside is most important.
That leaves about $5M going forward… and the draft will eat into that some. If the Vikings are going to sign that OL everyone has been looking for (see latest Trent Williams rumors here) then there has to be another big move in the making… and Anthony Harris probably makes the most sense. The Vikings could shed about $10M by trading and losing that franchise tag they placed on him… or, as my old friend Kyle Ratke states in that link, they could just trade Harris for Williams, in more of a straight-up swap.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what Rick has up his sleeve…
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan