Minnesota Vikings News Roundup: How Will Zim, Spielman Manage The Upcoming Cash Infusion?

In a few days, our Minnesota Vikings are going to get a salary cap cash infusion. How will the team use this newfound wealth? We’ll soon find out. Before we get there, we thought we’d offer a few words on how the Vikings may distribute their money. Afterwards, we turn to PFF‘s rankings for our defensive players before finishing with some discussion of TVG‘s content and the broader purple chatter.

Minnesota Vikings Salary Cap

As it stands, Minnesota has more than $6.7 million available, which is a lot of money given the circumstances. We’re in the middle of the offseason. They’ve made a couple big signings in free agency and have signed most of their draft picks. Even still, money remains.

On Wednesday, Minnesota is going to get an extra $7.9 million of cap space. The reason, you ask? Kyle Rudolph was designated as a post-June 1 cut, so his salary only comes off the books on June 2. It’s a move that spreads out his dead money over a couple seasons. My math skills have never been good, but the calculator tells me that the Minnesota Vikings will have $14.6 million in salary cap space. That means they could pretty comfortably spend around $10 million and still have enough to cover them for the season.

Perhaps the first thing they ought to seriously consider is whether they’re willing to scrounge together some money for Danielle Hunter. He’s our best player and arguably the most valuable one to our team’s success. Having him on the field makes the defense completely different. Next, the Vikings really ought to consider signing Brian O’Neill to a sizable extension. He’s easily our best o-linemen, and Minnesota ought to make it a priority to see him in purple for a long time.

Otherwise, there are plenty of names to remember. There are always some Geno Atkins rumors, and Bashaud Breeland was recently in for a visit. There are certainly several other players who may help us. I’d think that spending to the cap – or, at the very least, close to the cap – will be a priority for Zim and Spielman since they’re both probably on the hot seat. Expect us to hear of a substantial move or two before training camp begins.

PFF’s Defensive Rankings

Last week, there was the focus on our offensive players. Now, it’s the defense’s turn.

Let’s begin up front. Danielle Hunter is coming in at 10th among defensive ends: “It didn’t take long for Hunter to develop into a quality run defender in the NFL following his third-round selection out of LSU back in 2015. He ranks in the 87th percentile of all qualifying players at the position in run defense grade across the past six seasons. However, 2019 was the first season that Hunter made a big leap as a pass-rusher. He put up an 84.5 pass-rushing grade — over 10 points higher than his previous career high — and 88 quarterback pressures in 2019.  He’ll look to build on that in his return from a 2020 season lost to injury.” At this point, 10th is probably about right; if he didn’t miss the season for injury, he’d likely be top-5.

For DTs, Minnesota has two representatives: Dalvin Tomlinson (17th) and Michael Pierce (26th). Tomlinson “ranks in the 83rd percentile in PFF run-defense grade since 2017 and showed some ability to get after the quarterback as a pass-rusher from nose tackle alignments in 2020.” Pierce, meanwhile, is the primary run-stuffer: “Pierce’s role as a run-stuffer is well defined, and there are few better than him in that role. The undrafted free agent out of Samford earned a 91.1 run-defense grade across the first four seasons of his career in Baltimore, ranking fifth among all qualifying players at the position.”

Minnesota has one representative at linebacker: Eric Kendricks. Personally, I’d have him higher than third, but I’m about as biased as it gets. I won’t argue the Bobby Wagner at #1 overall point, but Kendricks ought to be above Fred Warner. Nevertheless, here is what PFF had to say about Kendricks: “Showing there is more than one way to get it done, Eric Kendricks played a more conventional college position than Warner but has been the other superstar linebacker in coverage over the past couple of years. Including the playoffs, Kendricks has 17 pass breakups and the highest PFF coverage grade among all linebackers (91.7) over the past two seasons.” It’s at least somewhat surprising that Anthony Barr isn’t in the top-32. In other seasons, he’d certainly deserve to be there.

TVG and Broader Purple Chatter

The highlight for me during this past week was my interview with Paul Bretl from Dairyland Express. There was also an article about Irv Smith’s impending breakout, the absences at OTAs, some Purple Pain Forums optimism, and a few reflections on how Phil Mickelson’s incredible victory ought to encourage our purple hearts and minds. Also, Cole published a really cool piece last Saturday night where he argues that Minnesota is the best team to never win.

As for purple chatter, there has been plenty. Weekly Spiral released a really excellent video breaking down Minnesota’s defense last season, explaining just how difficult it was for Zim. The draft fans may be interested in the continued focus on draft grades over at The Draft Team. Folks who enjoy podcasts/videos about the Vikings may be interested in checking out what’s going on over at The Vikings Report.

Conclusion

The salary cap is a continual focus for NFL fans, and followers of the Minnesota Vikings are no different. For us to succeed, Spielman is going to need to wisely divvy up the remaining cash. The main thing I’m hoping for is a Hunter resolution. Anything after that is a bonus.

Otherwise, I’ll merely conclude with my sincere thanks for once again stopping by for our news roundup. It means a lot to us here at TVG that you take time for our work. Have an excellent weekend.

Skol.