Where Can Vikings Find 2021 Salary Cap Relief?


The Minnesota Vikings are heading into the 2021 NFL offseason in “salary cap hell”. According to Spotrac.com, their current roster would usher in the new league year with -$8 million in available funds for Rick Spielman and Co. to work with. That’d make for a rough trip to the ATM…

But, there are some of ways for the Vikings to find extra money in the TCO Performance Center couch cushions. The most popular ways to free up cash for all teams across the league, is by cutting or restructuring player contract, where feasible.

How it works

Of course, it’s not as easy as waving a magic wand that cuts anybody at anytime. Players and agents negotiate to guarantee future money in these contracts and cutting or trading high-profile names will often incur cap penalties. These cap penalties are referred to as, “dead cap”, and are in place to deter teams from making such moves.

Some contracts are more malleable than others and it often depends on how far along in the lifespan a contract is. Normally, cutting or trading newly signed contracts will result in more “dead cap” money, than doing the same with older contracts.

But as NFL contracts age, less and less money is guaranteed and the “dead cap” number goes down, making it easier for teams to cut ties or ask for a renegotiation.

Malleable Vikings Contracts

The Minnesota Vikings have a handful of contracts that are ripe to be re-done or ripped up all together and there’s nearly $50 million in savings on the table. The list, of course, is packed with the most high-profile of names and cutting all of them isn’t in the cards. That’s where restructures could come into play.

Player’21 Cap HitDead CapCut Savings
Riley Reiff$15.95M$2.20M$13.75M
Harrison Smith$10.25M$0.00M$10.25M
Adam Thielen$13.47M$5.40M$8.07M
Anthony Barr$15.06M$7.80M$7.26M
Kyle Rudolph$9.45M$4.35M$5.10M
Shamar Stephen$5.08M$1.33M$3.75M

How Rick Spielman and Rob Brzezinski choose to move this money around, will not only dictate the course of this offseason, but the course of this franchise.

Decisions Start with Riley Reiff

The players at the top of this list are names that a thin Vikings team can’t really afford to lose. Yet… they can’t afford to pay all of them either. Riley Reiff might be the most difficult to figure out. The outlook at offensive line would topple if Riley isn’t holding down LT.

But, are the Vikings ready and willing to restructure and extend his contract, essentially locking him in as their future LT. He’s only 32 years old but this is a guy they forced to take a pay-cut (or get cut) just before 2020 got underway. That’d be quite the change of heart. If they leave his deal alone, their pockets become tighter this offseason.

And Reiff is only one of many difficult decisions this front office will face over the next few months. One mistake could mean the end of the Rick Spielman + Mike Zimmer Era.

No pressure.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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