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Updated: August 29th, 2011 10:49pm
Pelissero: Tough to target help while Vikings remain strapped by cap

Pelissero: Tough to target help while Vikings remain strapped by cap

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- If the Minnesota Vikings want to make any bold moves when more than 800 NFL players hit the waiver wire and the street on Saturday, they have two options:

Get a contract extension done with one of the two players eating up nearly 19% of their salary-cap space, or trim some fat at the other end of the payroll.

The odds are long of the former happening by the weekend. The Vikings are further apart with linebacker Chad Greenway's representatives than originally thought, and halfback Adrian Peterson's people don't seem to be in any hurry to do a deal either.

That leaves the Vikings cap-strapped as they approach Saturday's 53-man roster reduction, and there's no telling exactly how the reduced cap of $120.375 million and the lockout-altered offseason might affect teams' decision-making.

"With the salary cap being what it is and people having to adjust, I wouldn't not be surprised if there are some names people didn't expect to see on that waiver wire," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said on Monday. "So, our personnel department will be combing that waiver wire and just taking a look and just seeing if there are some guys that might help our football team."

ProFootballTalk.com reported on Monday that the Vikings' $370,000 in available cap space is the lowest in the NFL. Vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski is one of the NFL's best cap men, but that's not much wiggle room if the Vikings decide they have a chance to fill a hole with a veteran.

They squeaked under the cap early this month by cutting safety Madieu Williams (scheduled cap number of $5.5 million), left tackle Bryant McKinnie ($5.4 million) and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy ($2.5 million) and convincing receiver Bernard Berrian ($6,258,333) to accept a $2 million reduction in his base salary.

More savings could be had if the Vikings decide to part ways with linebacker/special teamer Heath Farwell ($1.75 million), receiver Greg Camarillo ($1.725 million), defensive tackle Fred Evans ($1 million), safety Tyrell Johnson ($922,250), cornerback Asher Allen ($661,375) and/or someone else whose cap number falls within their top 51.

But the real relief won't come unless and until they can work out an extension with Greenway or Peterson, who both figure prominently in the team's long-term plans and aren't signed beyond this season.

Greenway signed his one-year, $10.091 million franchise tender in March, meaning the Vikings have until 3 p.m. on Sept. 20 to work out a multiyear extension and avoid carrying that eight-figure cap number all season.

The 28-year-old has made clear he wants to stay in Minnesota, but he's due to make so much money under the franchise tag -- by comparison, his five-year rookie contract was worth $11,642,190 total -- he can afford to wait for the extension offer he wants.

The same goes for Peterson, who is due a team-high $10.72 million, with signing bonus proration that pushes his cap number to $12.775 million.

The Vikings purposefully structured the contract to keep down Peterson's salary in the four meaningful years, knowing they'd have to address it one way or another before this season.

There was no way to anticipate the way the market would play out after the uncapped 2010 year, with elite players such as Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald getting $50 million guaranteed and non-elite backs such as Carolina's DeAngelo Williams getting $21 million guaranteed.

While Tennessee star Chris Johnson stages a protracted holdout over his $1.065 million base salary, Peterson smiles at questions about his future and prepares to collect 10 times that from a Vikings team that has plenty of work ahead before they can pay anyone else.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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