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How the Vikings might create cap space for new Bradford, Rhodes deals

Two of the biggest storylines of the 2017 Minnesota Vikings season will surround contracts. Unrestricted free agents Sam Bradford and Xavier Rhodes will both be under scrutiny as they look to earn long-term deals. But after giving out several big contracts this offseason, the Vikings will have to be creative if they want to afford both players.

Because the NFL does not have guaranteed contracts, teams can structure deals to appear much longer and more lucrative than they actually are in order to have lower salary cap numbers. For example, Riley Reiff’s five-year, $58.75 million contract only carries along $26.3 million in guaranteed money and after 2019, the Vikings could release him and gain $8.8 million in cap space while carrying a hit that season of $4.4 million. You can see below (via how his cap number rises throughout the contract while the dead money if he’s released goes down. If Reiff is still playing at a high level by the end of 2019, it’s very likely the Vikings would restructure his deal.

That’s just one example of how teams can either walk away from contracts or rework them in order to create more space.

If the Vikings choose to sign both Bradford and Rhodes long term, they may have to find ways to create room for deals that could combine for close to $40 million per season.

There are currently seven starters who the Vikings could either release or restructure their deals without facing significant cap penalty (all numbers via

LB, Anthony Barr

2018 cap hit: $12.3 million

Dead money: $0

If Barr returns to 2015 form, the Vikings might be looking at signing him to a long-term contract, too. But if he doesn’t bounce back from a down 2016, he could be released with zero cap penalty or the Vikings could release him and work out a new deal.

G, Alex Boone

2018 cap hit: $6.7 million

Dead money: $0

While Boone turned in a solid first year in Minnesota, it does not seem likely they would keep him at $6.7 million next season. He is a prime candidate for a restructure. If he wasn’t willing to rework the deal, the Vikings could move on.

S, Andrew Sendejo

2018 cap hit: $3.5 million

Dead money: $0

Sendejo had the best season of his career in 2016. If he repeats that performance, Harrison Smith’s cohort in the defensive backfield could be a bargain at $3.5 million. However, if his play drops off, the Vikings could look to the draft or one of their recent picks Jack Tocho or Jayron Kearse to replace him.

DE, Everson Griffen

2018 cap hit: $9.7 million

Dead money:  $1.2 million

Everson is set to hit free agency after 2018 and will make less base salary than his cap hit, which might allow the Vikings to re-work his contract to give him an extension. Griffen is one of the elite players at his position in the NFL, so Minnesota will want to do everything they can to keep him.

TE, Kyle Rudolph

2018 cap hit: $7.3 million

Dead money: $1.3 million

The Vikings’ tight end is coming off a career year in 2016, but he’s set to have a large cap hit for his position. If one of the other tight ends on the roster like Bucky Hodges or David Morgan emerges as a starting-caliber player, the Vikings could let him go and pick up $6 million in space.

Linval Joseph

2018 cap hit: $6.85 million

Dead money: $600,000

Like Griffen, Joseph is a free agent after 2018, will be making less in base salary than his cap hit and a must-keep player for the Vikings. An extension seems imminent.

Latavius Murray

2018 cap hit: $6.35 million

Dead money: $1.2 million

The takeaway:

Murray’s three-year, $15 million contract is essentially a one-year deal. If Dalvin Cook emerges as a monster all-around back, the Vikings could let Murray hit the market or restructure his contract to fit his No. 2 role.

All said and done, between those seven starters there is around a $50 million difference between the cap hits and dead money. Letting Barr walk and releasing Boone alone would pay for Bradford’s 2018 cap hit.

  • Matt

    ridiculous, only viable is sendajo and possibly murray if cook is great

    • B. A. Barakas

      Enough of Sendejo already, get a good safety next to Smith…it would make the defense so much better…

      • Matt

        agreed, wished for a new safety for a few years now

    • NJR

      Viable as in OK to cut? I’d be fine cutting Boone at that number after this season.

      • Matt

        sure, if he’s replaced by something decent, I’d rather have average than below

  • Matthew Rowe

    If Sam performs well, he’ll be signed by mid season and they’ll sort the rest out later. If he plays at a mediocre level, this whole set of senarios changes.

  • Super K

    Murray and Boone most likely gone or restructured – Rudolph possibly gone – Barr is a tough one – covered backs that are tough to cover but needs to pick up his run support – phenomenal athlete but also injuries might play a part in whether they re-sign him – sendejo will probably stay and gives insurance at the 2nd safety spot while hoping for someone else to emerge – Griffen should get a big contract along with Bradford- tough to see us keeping everyone – we better develop some of these draft choices and have a productive draft next year.

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  • DDJR

    I want to be wrong about Sam. But he needs to show me more then 8-8 to get a monster deal. Teddys looming in the background so I could see us franchise tagging Sam for a year and seeing how Teddy looks in 2018.

    • brian199511

      Wouldn’t a franchise tag be a much bigger one year cap hit than an extension? Bradford didn’t lose those games, the worst pass protection and running game in the NFL did. Teddy coming back is unlikely, 1 in 5 odds according to doctors who treat his type of injury. Bradford proved to be a great leader, accurate passer and tough as hell last year under terrible circumstances. The Vikings history at the position is not good so they will probably screw this up but I say extend him now because if they are 6-2 mid-year it will be even more money. QB is the hardest position to fill and if Teddy comes back having two good QBs creates a lot of possibilities.

      • DDJR

        Short term yes its more gtd money for that year. HOWEVER if he doesnt pan out, your not on hook for more gtd money over multiple years. So if say he got hurt or something, you can resign Teddy for cheap because he didnt have the year Derek Carr had for instance like they where saying he may be primed for. So you can get Teddy on the low end for a few more years and eat the high salary for the one year. Which still allows you the flex just in case you wanted to hypothetically move one. I just have a hard time thinking Zimmers going to give up on Teddy. I like Sam hes done and said all the right things hes a good guy, but if Teddy comes back he controls the locker room.

  • Mike Sullivan

    Teddy Bridgewater is the biggest key in this whole situation. If he somehow comes back from his injury at 100% Then all this might be a moot point. The Vikings could cut ties with Bradford, Sign Teddy to a team friendly deal due to risk of re-injury. That would leave room for Rhodes to be signed long term. The Vikings then draft a quarterback next spring at lower cost. If Cook is as good as advertised, The Vikings can cut ties after this season. Barr is on the fence anyway as he has a lot to prove this season. I agree that Boone would be a candidate for a salary cut. Linval Joseph will need to be re-signed. If Bucky Hodges can develop, then Rudolph becomes trade bait. I have faith in Brysinski as a cap manager and he will find a way.

    • Gordon Guffey

      First off is there even a QB worth trading up for in 2018 ~ ??? I ask because I dont keep up with college football like I use too ~ The Vikings have 13+million right now and that includes Rhodes 5th year option ~ They could add to his contract this year if they like and get him resigned without making a move ~ Bridgewater is a huge question mark even if he makes it back because that knee could go out again at any time going forward ~ Or he could be like Bradford and have back to back trouble with both knees ~ Odd are against that but the Vikings cant head into next season with that kind of question mark at QB while counting on a rookie if they cant trade up high enough to get one of the better ones ~ I’m not against doing what ever it takes to trade up ((( no to point of a H. Walker kind of trade ~ Once in a lifetime is enough for me ~ That one still hurts ))) However if Bradford has a big season and they keep Shurmur as the OC I dont see any way they dont do what ever they cant to a point to resign Bradford ~ Just a gut feeling ~ Doesn’t mean I’m right by any means ~ Same goes for Rudolph ~ Its my understanding that Shurmur like the two TE offense for the short to mid range passing game as well as for blocking for the running game and based on the videos over on they all seem to love what they are seeing from Morgan catching and blocking in OTA’s ~ They have videos and stories from they starting DE’s where they have ask about him as well as the coaches ~ Again this is based off the little I have been able to find of what Shurmur offense might look like this season ~ Rudolph was less than 200 yards from having a 1000 yard a season in 2016 ~ Again I dont see how they can let him walk if he does it again unless one of the young TE’s a long with Morgan really come on ~ Speaking of Rudolph he is another one of those players who has had growing pains with injures early on so he will always be a question mark ~
      Hopefully Cook will have a banner year while McKinnon proves to be a good backup while staying healthy or maybe they can keep Murray if he wants to rework his deal but if he plays well I dont see that happening ~ And thats going to be a hard pitch if all 3RB’s play well ~
      One thing is for sure the Vikings will have their work cut out for them if all the players above play well in 2017 and maybe this is their last year before rebuilding starts all over once again ~ ???? I’m sure glad its not my job trying to keep all the players they might really wont to keep ~

  • David Prestin

    If Bradford has another like last yr minus untimely ints, I have a feeling we may be sending Rudolph on his way. Murray as well if cook is what we all think he is.

    As much as I like teddy, will that knee ever be strong enough to take the nfls pounding? I’d worry every snap he took. Then again Peterson had his knee blown out and rushed for 2000 yds. And didn’t he have collerbone or shoulder surgery before we drafted him?

    • Gordon Guffey

      David based on everything I have been able to find here and elsewhere Teddy’s injury was much worse than AP’s because his knee also dislocated and they say if it wasn’t for the Vikings trainer who acted very quickly Teddy could have lost the use of that leg ~ And this was without even taking a hit to that leg when it happened ~

      If anyone has found anything different please share a link cause that would mean I’m off the mark once again ~ Wouldn’t be the first time or the last ~ LOL

      • Gordon Guffey

        I’m pulling for the young man but how could you enter as season without a dang good backup if Teddy was your starter ~ ??? I mean as a team ~ Us fans can b!tch and fuss about what we think we know ((( I win all the time because I dont know anything so I can never be wring LOL ))) ~ But a team has to think about wins and loses every year as well as the future ~ I’m just happy its not my call to make ~

        The Vikings released a statement on Bridgewater’s surgery from head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman:
        Bridgewater had his left knee surgically repaired yesterday. The procedure was
        performed by Dr. Dan Cooper at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas,
        TX. ((( The knee dislocation resulted in Teddy needing a multi-ligament
        reconstruction. ))) I was able to be present in Dallas, support Teddy and
        observe the entire procedure. The repair was excellent and gives Teddy
        every reason to be very optimistic. Teddy already began the rehab
        process yesterday, will return to Minnesota to continue on the road to
        recovery very soon and looks forward to getting back on the field.

    • MarkWattsMN

      “Then again Peterson had his knee blown out and rushed for 2000 yds”

      Peterson compared to his peers was top talent prior to that injury, Teddy was bottom of the league talent compared to his peers prior.

      Not only would he have to come back, but basically double his production to be in the top 1/3rd of QBs that can carry a team with their arm, something he’s never proven he can do when healthy.


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