Rick Spielman Strikes Again: The Vikings Have More Than $10 Million in Cap Space

We really need to give credit where credit’s due. Rick Spielman has done an excellent job of navigating the Vikings’ snug salary cap. The recent news about Anthony Barr’s restructure means Minnesota has more space than originally anticipated. The Vikings, according to the good people at Over the Cap, now have a little more than $10 million to spend. How will Slick Rick distribute this newfound wealth?

Rick Spielman, the Salary Cap, and the Never Ending Pursuit of Vikings Greatness

First, let’s start with a breakdown of the dollars and cents. Originally, the belief was that the Barr restructure would give Minnesota around $5 million in cap space. Spielman scoffs at our paltry $5 million, though. Instead, Minnesota was able to clear close to double that amount by participating in some salary cap shenanigans (i.e. borrowing from future years). Ben Goessling — one of the best in the business — offers a breakdown:

The Vikings thus find themselves in an advantageous position. They’ve already made some considerable improvements to their defense by signing Dalvin Tomlinson and Patrick Peterson, but we all recognize that there is a lot of work to be done. Indeed, the yearly tradition continues: the offensive line remains the weakest part of Minnesota’s roster. Fortunately, the Vikings now have the ability to acquire a player or two who could make a difference.

There are several impact offensive linemen available in free agency. Perhaps the biggest obstacle isn’t the dollars and cents but, rather, the fact that most of the high-end players are tackles. Andrew Villanueva, Russell Okung, Mitchell Schwartz, and Rick Wagner are all intriguing options. It’s entirely possible that Spielman is currently flirting with one or more of these players.

That being said, the strength (if I can be bold enough to use that word) of Minnesota’s offensive line is at tackle. Brian O’Neill is a stud. Ezra Cleveland is a tackle by trade, Rashod Hill provides upside as a swing tackle, and Oli Udoh is still a promising young player. The real issue rests along the interior. Perhaps Minnesota views Cleveland as their long-term solution at RG.

Zim loves to play musical chairs on the offensive line. His proclivity for shifting players around (see Cleveland, Ezra) means that the aforementioned tackles are likely being considered as legit options for Minnesota’s o-line. One also wonders if the team would have any interest in Austin Reiter, a center who played well for the Chiefs last season. Otherwise, the interior o-lineman that comes to mind is Forrest Lamp. His play was uninspiring last season, but there are rumors that Minnesota is interested.

Other Positions of Need

The offensive line ought to be Minnesota’s top priority. Being a top priority, though, is not the same thing as being the only priority. One could make a pretty reasonable case for the defense needing another contributor at every level. The offense, moreover, would likely benefit from another WR, RB, and TE. We also should consider adding a backup QB since Nate Stanley and Jake Browning are the only quarterbacks behind Captain Kirk.

If the Vikings don’t spend all their money on the offensive line, expect them to pick apart their lower-tier needs. Mike Zimmer has said in the past that safety is among the less important positions on a defense. Even still, it’s not a bad thing to have impact players at safety. Harrison Smith — a future Hall of Famer — remains, but there really isn’t too much else for Minnesota to draw on at safety. Josh Metellus may develop into a great player, though it’s difficult to make that projection given how little he played during his rookie season. Duron Harmon, Tashaun Gipson, and Xavier Woods are all players to keep in mind.

Otherwise, fans should keep an eye on what Minnesota does to continue addressing their defensive line. After the season, Zim noted the importance of adding more talent at edge rusher. Signing Stephen Weatherly and re-adding Danielle Hunter will make a huge difference. Minnesota may still be interested in adding another defensive end. Melvin Ingram III and Carlos Dunlap are both options that make some sense on a prove-it deal.

Conclusion

Rick Spielman is not beyond reproach, but he has put the Vikings in a position to compete in 2021. Heck, Minnesota could access even more cap space if they give contract extensions to Harrison Smith and Danielle Hunter. In other words, Minnesota is going to add a player or two in the coming days.

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