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Where the Vikings Spend Money, by Position


Where the Vikings Spend Money, by Position
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Gabe Henderson

The Minnesota Vikings embark on the 2022 season with a new general manager and head coach but a roster largely similar to the 2021 edition.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took charge of the organization in January as general manager and hired Kevin O’Connell from the Los Angeles Rams in February.

Heading into a new season, this is where the Vikings spend their money, per NFL ranking and position (as of June 25). The positions are ranked in ascending order.

Defensive Backs ($24.6 M)

NFL Ranking via Spending = 30th

Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Harrison Smith earns a lot of money per season ($16m), but that’s about it for spending on defensive backs. Patrick Peterson’s contract is $4 million per year.

All things considered, the Vikings allotment to the defensive secondary is puny. That’s why Luke Kuechly calling Minnesota’s secondary the best in the NFL in May was so astonishing.

Eventually, Andrew Booth, Lewis Cine, and Cameron Dantzler will probably get paid big bucks, but that is not a 2022 problem.

Tight Ends ($6.1 M)

NFL Ranking via Spending = 29th

Irv Smith Jr.
Irv Smith Jr.

No Vikings TE earns big money — yet.

Irv Smith Jr. encounters the most important season of his career to date because it will affect his pocketbook. We blinked, and 2022 is the final year of Smith Jr.’s contract.

All Vikings tight ends are on rookie/UFDA contracts or small veteran deals (Johnny Mundt).

Offensive Line ($36.1 M)

NFL Ranking via Spending = 28th

Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Brian O’Neill. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

Brian O’Neill rings up at $18.5 million per year. After that, it’s a steep drop-off to Christian Darrisaw at $3.3 million.

The Vikings don’t spend much on offensive linemen — plain and simple. Some teams spend over $50 million per season on the offensive line (Carindals, Lions). Minnesota is attempting to fix longstanding OL woes on a teensy budget. Like the defensive secondary, Vikings OL starters and depth players are on rookie contracts or modest veteran contracts.

Special Teams ($5.1 M)

NFL Ranking via Spending = 24th

Oct 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s face it. The Vikings kicker, punter, and long snapper are basically no-name players. Vikings fans know who they are, but the NFL body politic does not.

Thankfully, Minnesota’s special teams improved last year with this exact personnel, so under-spending doesn’t have to be a doomsday forecast.

Linebackers ($27.5 M)

NFL Ranking via Spending = 16th

Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) and linebacker Troy Dye. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

This does not include EDGE rushers like Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith.

The Vikings rank in the middle of the league for linebacker monetary allocation because of Eric Kendricks. For an off-ball linebacker, he earns a lot, making $10 million annually. Jordan Hicks joined back in March for $5 million each year. After Kendricks and Hicks [again], rookies tickle the depth chart.

Wide Receiver ($23.5 M)

NFL Ranking via Spending = 14th

Sep 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Enjoy this “14th-most” for a while longer because this one will bloat soon.

Justin Jefferson is on deck to set the market for WR paydays, and those chats with Minnesota’s front office should begin in eight months. For now, Adam Thielen earns $16 million each season, the bulk of the Vikings WR cash.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah timed the expiration of Thielen’s deal wisely with the beginning of Jefferson’s monster paycheck after the 2024 season.

Defensive Line ($36.5 M)

NFL Ranking via Spending = 12th

Only One Thing Can Stop Vikings New Pass Rushing Duo
Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith

Thanks to Danielle Hunter, Dalvin Tomlinson, Harrison Phillips, and Za’Darius Smith (it’s mostly Hunter), Minnesota ranks in the Top 12 for DL spending.

This group has the potential to be incredibly productive in 2022 — if it stays healthy. Hunter and Smith — the billboard headliners — are coming back from notable injuries. If they click, the Vikings defensive trenches will be spooky. If injuries set in, Minnesota is in trouble.

Quarterbacks ($34.3 M)

NFL Ranking via Spending = 5th

Nov 18, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

This one is almost “no caption needed.”

Kirk Cousins is a Top-12-or-so NFL quarterback who earns Top-8 money. And for a 2022 cap hit, Cousins is even higher than Top 8.

Almost every grievance ever leveled at Cousins — there are a bunch — involves money. The Vikings habitually toss a bag full of guaranteed cash at the man, driving some folks bonkers.

The 2022 season is no different. The Vikings allocate ample dollars to QB1.

Running Backs ($15.6 M)

NFL Ranking via Spending = 4th

Explained: Early Developments at Vikings Minicamp
Dalvin Cook

The debate isn’t as fierce as the incessant Cousins hullabaloo, but some Vikings enthusiasts don’t like the team spending money on running backs. They feel the practice is archaic.

Wide receivers are the new running backs for on-the-field importance as the NFL trends toward pass-happiness.

But the Vikings believe they employ a Top 5 halfback — newsflash: they do — and that he deserves an upper-echelon paycheck.

Cook is under contract until age 30 (the 2025 season). However, the Vikings could affordably move on from Cook in 2023 and 2024 if they were so inclined.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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