The Vikings Decided to Kick The Can Down the Road
Before the offseason began, I wrote about the three purple paths that were before the Vikings. The Vikings had important decisions to make about their roster, and I brought things down to three broad categories: implode, reload, or kick the can down the road.
Option three seemed like the one Minnesota would pursue. Here is how I defined it: “The Vikings would continue to kick the can down the road by extending some of their core players. Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, Riley Reiff, and Adam Thielen are all legit candidates. Some cuts will likely still occur. It’s tough to see a scenario where Rudolph returns, and Shamar Stephen will likely be searching for a new team unless he agrees to a new deal. Nevertheless, the main move you’d see the Vikings make in this Purple Path is to push money into future years as they try to succeed in the present moment. Freeing up cap space would give the team the finances necessary to bring in an impact free agent or two.”
Some of these moves actually happened (restructuring Thielen, cutting Rudolph & Stephen) and others didn’t work out like I guessed (they cut Reiff and haven’t extended Smith). Be that as it may, the overall direction has been to kick the can down the road as Zim and Spielman try to compete in 2021.
Dalvin Tomlinson’s contract works primarily because Spielman tacked on void years to borrow from future Minnesota. His $6 million 2021 cap hit works because the Vikings spread some of the money out through to 2025. From there, Minnesota had the necessary wiggle room to bring in Patrick Peterson to help stabilize the secondary.
It’s also notable that Minnesota opted to use the post-June 1 cut for Rudolph, meaning the team will again rely on future years to help take on the cap hit. The end result is greater flexibility in the present moment.
The Vikings have a ton of talent on their roster, with the most notable weak spot being the offensive line (a reality that surprises essentially no one). The Vikings still have nearly $7.5 million in cap space. They have the ability leverage this modest wealth (by NFL standards) into another impact player, a move that may even be helped by continuing to kick the can down the road.