Rick Spielman is on a Strict Budget

Rick Spielman, it would seem, is on a strict budget. Allow me to explain.

Yesterday, the news emerged that Eric Wilson signed with Philly for a mere $3.25 million. It’s a modest amount given his production last year. Josh Frey explains: “Wilson had a breakout year with Barr’s absence in 2020, recording 122 tackles and three INTs over 15 starts. The former UDFA played in 96% of the Vikings defensive snaps in 2020.” Impressive numbers, indeed. The Vikings opted not to bring Wilson back.

Point #2: Anthony Harris and those pesky Eagles. The star free safety signed in Philly for a mere 1 year, $4 million (there is an incentive in there that could add on $1 million, bringing the total to $5 million). Heading into free agency, Spotrac estimated that Harris would command around $14 million per year. Folks, there is a pretty big difference between $4 million and $14 million. The former is quite easy to fit into Minnesota’s budget; the latter would have sent Brilliant Brze scrambling for more financial solutions.

I take these two pieces of evidence and conclude that our good friend Rick Spielman must be on a strict budget. No one (or, at the very least, very few people) believed you could sign Wilson and Harris for a mere $7.25 million. I’d be shocked if even Spielman believed this was possible. In fairness, Philly did participate in some salary cap tomfoolery to get the overall cap hit down for Harris, tacking on void years to borrow from future Philly. Nevertheless, the broader point remains: Harris and Wilson went for cheap. Spielman still allowed them to leave town. Spielman must have a very, very clear idea of what he’s willing to spend on a #2 safety and #3 LB.

Rather than scramble to retain two great Vikings, Spielman instead opted for Xavier Woods and Nick Vigil. The good people at Over the Cap indicate that Woods and Vigil have identical $1,734,375 cap hits. Times that number by two (all my BEDMAS skills were needed for this one) and you’ve got $3,468,750. Woods and Vigil are not as good as their predecessors, but they combine to be a touch more expensive than just Wilson. The Vikings saved around $4 million by signing the Woods/Vigil duo instead of the Harris/Wilson duo.

Spielman’s penny pinching thus leaves the Vikings will a pretty reasonable amount of cap space. $4 million is not an insignificant amount of money, especially at this stage in free agency (which is to say nothing of the Covid Cap). The intrigue, then, rests in seeing if Spielman can leverage this modest wealth into an impact player.

I, like many Vikings fans, will be hoping someone arrives who can Protect Kirk.