Vikings’ roster cleanup remains painful

The Vikings’ purge of the roster continued this week, with the release of some fan favorites. Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks were released as the team looks to create salary cap space for the 2023 league year. The release of these two players was heartbreaking for many Vikings fans.

However, it was always going to happen. Fans and analysts alike thought it was possible in the 2022 off-season after Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took over as general manager. However, he decided to run it back to see what he had in the team.

It’s hard to argue with this decision as they have won 13 games. Yes, yes, they lost to the Giants in the playoffs and were cheaters. Regardless, most organizations will and should be satisfied with that season.

That said, Kwesi and the front office look to be making the right choices for the future of the organization in the 2023 offseason. Players like Thielen and Kendricks, while still having much to offer, were clear players to take a pay cut or be released. His level of play is still good enough to be in the NFL, but not at the price the Vikings were paying him.

July 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) during training camp at the TCO Performance Center. Mandatory credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Worst of all, for fans, this cleanup has only just begun. Zedarius Smith requested his release from the team, there are rumors of a Dalvin Cook trade, and SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson indicated the Vikings are moving toward releasing Harrison Smith.

“Friday afternoon central time, signs point to Vikings releasing Harrison Smith.”

This all sounds scary as a fan, but it needed to be done. According to Over the Cap, the Vikings are still $7 million over the cap. Therefore, there needs to be more releases. If Za’Darius, Harrison and Dalvin were all released or traded, in Dalvin’s case, he would save $27 million and enter free agency with $20 million to spend.

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However, they will have significant roster holes to fill. How will they be able to fill a roster spot with only $20 million?

Purging the Rooster Shouldn’t Worry You

overrated combination
Minnesota Vikings General Manager Kwasi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, following a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

Before you panic that Vikings has no money, you need to take a step back and breathe. When considering the salary cap, you can’t just look at the current year’s available dollars. You need to look at 2024 and 2025.

Here’s a look at the cap availability if all of the previously discussed releases and trades come to pass:

  • 2023 – $20 million
  • 2024 – $176 million
  • 2025 – $243 million

There are dollars available in 2024 and 2025 eye opener, With this much cap space, they can still create more with additional reorganizations and extensions. The Vikings have the option of being very active in free agency as long as they backload several deals. Below is a short brainstorming session that I completed to show how active they can be:

Don’t marry any of the players I’ve listed here. Kwesi and the front office have a very long list of us. Additionally, as free agency opens next week, players from other teams will likely be released as well.

Regardless, there are significant holes in the Vikings’ roster. Cornerback room is in dire need of reinforcement, as they only have four cornerbacks on the roster. They need a WR2 to pair with Justin Jefferson and may need a second edge defender.

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By backloading several contracts into 2024 and 2025, they can attract plenty of quality players and be contenders in 2023. Of course, many people hate the idea of ​​backloading, but it’s the reality of where the team stands. They need corpses in their locker room.

If they want to be competitive, and everything they’ve said points in that direction, don’t be surprised to see them do so in the next month or so. More importantly, the team has all the money they need in future years to move forward and still sign Justin Jefferson to the largest wide receiver contract in NFL history.

Where Can Adam Thielen Go?  5 possibilities.

Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC Championship Game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasises about the Vikings one day winning the Super Bowl, but until then he will write about the Vikings. follow him on twitter @skol_vikings3

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