Vikings Fans Have Been Sold a Bill of Salary Cap Lies

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve written enough about the Minnesota Vikings salary cap situation that those (the few) who care enough to read regularly either a) already know the Vikings’ money situation isn’t as bad as what has been reported or b) think I’m an idiot.

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I’m not a salary cap expert but that’s ok. You don’t need to be. While NFL contracts and their relationship to the salary cap can get very confusing and complex, the overall practice of tracking, projecting and estimating future money situations for each team isn’t rocket science, like some would like you to think. Not in 2024, with the internet and cap tools available to the public.

To Kirk Cousins or not Kirk Cousins…

I’ve never met The Athletic’s Alec Lewis and he’s not (yet) a reporter who breaks a lot of Vikings news around town. But he’s a really good writer and, even more importantly, he’s a thinker; two things I always appreciate. And on Thursday morning, Lewis put out his latest column, which focused on Kirk Cousins and whether or not it makes sense for the Vikings to bring him back for next season and beyond.

Part of his focus is on Kirk’s relationship to the salary cap in future years. Remember, if Cousins is not on the roster in 2024, the Vikings pay a dead cap charge of $28.5 million anyway, which is ROUGHLY the same amount he will cost against the cap if he signs a new multi-year deal.

In other words, the Vikings are paying for Kirk Cousins to be their QB next season, whether he’s actually the person doing that job, or not. So the biggest money concerns surrounding Cousins has to do with the salary cap beyond 2024.

Minnesota Vikings salary cap future beyond 2024 looks… bright

But guess what Alec realized while writing his piece. The Vikings don’t have any cap concerns beyond 2024… even if they sign and extend Kirk, JJ and Danielle.

Future salary-cap space: The Vikings have about $20 million in effective cap space, according to Over The Cap, which is a figure that projects how much cap space a team will have after signing at least 51 players and its projected rookie class. The Lions and Bears are expected to have more. All four NFC North teams have ample room in 2025, even if player extensions will affect that flexibility.

Alec Lewis – The Athletic

So let’s take a look, shall we? After a quick check over at, it’s very clear how much space the Minnesota Vikings have available in 2025 and beyond, which as of Thursday, January 25, 2024, is nearly $150 million.

2025 Adjusted Salary Cap*$288,598,007
Vikings Total Salaries (w/Top 51)$139,913,805
Projected Cap Space$148,684,202
*Projected (Spotrac)

Of course, that space will be eaten up pretty quickly, not just in player contracts, but in dead cap hits and whatever else can be charged to a team’s salary cap each season. But there’s no doubt that Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Danielle Hunter can easily fit into that picture, not just in 2024, but beyond.

The more and more we dive into the Vikings offseason picture, both in 2024 and beyond, it becomes more and more clear that salary cap problems won’t be something that holds them back. If they somehow decide that blowing everything up and starting over brand new is the best option to grow a Super Bowl contender, then fine. That’s not illogical.

A full rebuild doesn’t make sense for Wilfs

But, if salary cap constraints aren’t forcing the Vikings into a rebuild (which they clearly are not), then why would the Wilfs do it? They’ve never wanted to rebuild before and they have arguably a top-5 quarterback who wants to play for them, not to mention the best wide receiver in the NFL.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Re-signing Kirk Cousins is Obvious Move for Vikings

It’s easy to be pessimistic about the short-term and demand a full rebuild, when your money isn’t on the line. But in all reality, being competitive is what makes the Wilfs money. The Vikings are the most relevant and most important, money-making team in town. It doesn’t make sense to put that at risk unless it absolutely makes the most long-term sense.

…the climb toward contention in 2024 feels steep. But will that feeling, loaded with uncertainty, force a shift in the Vikings’ team-building approach? Unless ownership shifts its course, one it has charted for nearly two decades, the answer is probably no.

Alec Lewis – The Athletic

The Wilfs do not NEED a Super Bowl for their business model to be successful. So why, in a world where other options probably make more sense, both football-wise and business-wise, would we expect the Wilfs to tear this whole operation down? That’s never been their thought process before and it’s highly unlikely it will be now.

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