The Minnesota Vikings have entered their 2023 offseason after losing to the New York Giants in the wild-card round of the postseason. Despite the disappointing ending, the season should still be remembered as successful.
It was the first season of rookie head coach Kevin O’Connell, and just like rookie players, rookie coaches make mistakes. In addition, all players, on offense and defense, had to learn a new system. Some of the players struggled with that and had more problems than others.
The playoff loss showed some weaknesses, especially the defense. It was heavily outplayed and had no chance to stop the Giants, a team that reached the postseason but is not considered to have an elite offense. For that reason, the organization has to make changes. Those changes can be bringing in new coaches and drastically changing the player personnel.
1 Problem Emerges for Vikings GM
However, adding new players to the roster requires resources. In the offseason, cap space and draft picks are the two most important things to improve a team. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah doesn’t possess a lot of either resource.
The Vikings have negative cap space. Having trouble with that at the beginning of an offseason is nothing new for the purple team. It’s almost an annual tradition. Adofo-Mensah will enter his second offseason in charge and have to make some decisions for the Vikings future.
Cap space can easily be created by cutting players or by restructuring contracts. The Vikings have multiple candidates to be cut. Here is a list of some players and the cap savings in 2023. All numbers are according to Spotrac.com.
- Dalvin Cook – $7,898,728
- Adam Thielen – $6,417,647
- Harrison Smith – $7,468,230
- Eric Kendricks – $9,500,000
- Jordan Hicks – $5,000,000
- Za’Darius Smith – $12,333,332
The Vikings can easily save money by cutting some of the players on the list. They are all aging players. Za’Darius Smith and Harrison Smith were certainly the two players that still performed at a high level in 2022. However, the safety will turn 34 years old in a couple of weeks, and the edge rusher slowed down in the second half of the season and his injuries possibly caught up to him.
Kendricks and Hicks struggled with declining athleticism, a huge problem on the Vikings’ defense. Thielen and Cook were among the least effective players in the league in their respective positions.
The Vikings’ front office has to make the decisions. Cutting too many players would pile up the dead cap hits, but it’s likely that at least a couple of players from the list won’t be back with the Vikings in 2023.
In addition to cutting players, the Vikings can restructure contracts. Some base salaries can be turned into bonuses without negotiating new contracts, saving some cap space.
The new league year will start on Wednesday, March 15, at 3 pm CT. At that time, all teams, including the Vikings, must be below the salary cap. GM Adofo-Mensah and salary cap expert Rob Brzezinski have a lot of work to do and might have to cut some of the most beloved Vikings players to get below the salary cap.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt