Are they trying to win or not? Is that why Ryan Poles chose Chicago? Are the Wilfs calling the roster hits now? Does the whole league know the Vikings are screwed and that’s why no one will trade for their veteran players? Could a cousin swap still happen? Did Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell say the team wasn’t allowed to step back? What do they do?
In the days following the Minnesota Vikings’ decision to extend Kirk Cousins, there has been much speculation about the reasoning behind their subsequent moves — or lack thereof. At this point you would need a football windbreaker to crack the code.
In the first two days of the “legal tampering” period, the Vikings signed two solid, cheap defensive players who are expected to replace two other solid defensive players. They kept the kicker. On Wednesday, they kept the punter and added a backup lineman and blocked the tight end, like we do.
As the first day of the NFL league year approached, a move was expected as the Vikings were expected to switch to the right side of the salary cap before the 3 p.m. deadline. Like all teams, they’ve hit their cap compliance goal, but still need to make $3.5 million in space to officially add defensive tackle Harrison Phillips to the team (per OverTheCap).
Oh, and all that dead cap money from zero-year deals that people thought ‘cap is a myth’ didn’t exist, fell on the Vikings’ heads on Wednesday. They now have $22 million in dead space. Are they still paying ceiling space to Kyle Rudolph? You bet.
Anyway, nothing happened on Cape Compliancy Day. None of the options that have been discussed since the day the Vikings boxed Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman have yet to be selected. No one has been restructured, traded or extended except for Cousins. Meanwhile, top free agents have found new homes at real estate crisis prices.
the Star Tribune Ben Goessling reported that the Vikings were trying to trade star edge rusher Danielle Hunter to reduce cap space. Dealing with it would create $14 million in space (or $19 million if it’s a post-June 1 designation). Dealing with him after extending Cousins would also baffle any reasonable person following the team.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on the trades in the league, the pricing for players with salary cap issues isn’t good. The Browns traded a couple of Tim Couch signed jerseys and a $100 gas card (insert gas price joke) for outstanding receiver Amari Cooper. No one would take Cleveland receiver Jarvis Landry, so the Browns had to cut him. Despite Hunter’s incredible production, teams are unlikely to line up outside the TCO Performance Center taking draft picks because they know the Vikings have zero leverage. They have to trade Hunter, cut him or extend him and other clubs are willing to dare the Vikings to take the risk of extending him or the shame of cutting him.
If he’s not traded, guess who’s the agent who will next win a high-end Vikings contract extension lottery? Hunter will ultimately win one of these negotiations.
At least Hunter signing and staying would match the pick to keep Cousins. Hunter is extremely good at football and by giving Cousins an extension with a no-trade clause, the Vikings signaled they thought they would be good right away. Otherwise, they would have moved on for whatever they could get, right? However, they are less good in 2022 if they trade Hunter.
There is already some light on offensive linemen in the market. Someone just signed Tom Compton.
The logic here would be to call for patience. Let it all play out rather than judging the painting before it’s finished. But it looks like a Picasso right now – and not in a good way. Too abstract to understand. Only instead of the artistic types being the only ones to understand it, only the fans who champion every move can appreciate the true beauty in the complete chaos of the roster.
Along with the uncertainty, a bunch of nutty suspicions are thrown around on social media. Who knows, they might be right. We don’t have evidence to say, “That’s the plan, folks, nothing to do here!”
With Zimmer and Spielman, we could predict their moves weeks before they made them. For better or worse, you knew they were going to jam, corner, and wait until the last minute for a supposed No. 3 receiver. We don’t know Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell’s tendencies. Since they are doing this for the first time, they might not have expected it to be so difficult. Everyone has a notebook full of business ideas until you get laughed at on the phone by veteran GMs who know how messed up your cap situation is.
Agents aren’t dumb geese either. New deal to lower the cap hit? What will you do for me in return?
In the next few days, things will happen. Whether or not they paint all of Picasso’s twisted figures into soothing Monets, we’ll see. But things have to go down. What everyone is looking for is a sign of strategy. Things seem to happen randomly. The next move must point to a plot.
Since we only have five months until the Vikings jump on the field again, it’s time for things to work out. In fact, some results would give Vikings fans an ah-ha moment. See the light, even. If they traded Hunter with the intention of giving space to a few offensive linemen like center JC Tretter, who was released this week by the Browns, it would make sense. Another receiver to create an unstoppable group of weapons around Cousins? OK OK. It would be different.
Waiting for the second wave of free will is not madness. Think of some of the Vikings’ moves that worked last year, like safety Xavier Woods, who gave them more than 1,000 shots of solid play in safety for the price of a kicker. What if they were aiming for good deals for good players in positions that would make Cousins better?
At least you could see the way to max out the expensive QB with more talent on offense and McVay’s right-arm scheme.
If that’s not how they’re headed, the brass could play the short and long game by signing young, under-the-radar free agents in hopes they were misused in their saves. previous ones. Hey it worked for a few teams with Cordarrelle Patterson. A fast receiver who couldn’t buy a target? A corner sitting behind a star? A situational edge rusher with the potential to be a three-down outside linebacker? All the foregoing. Throw some darts, hope for a few hits and it will help you this year and beyond.
None of these free agency plans can go forward unless the Vikings do something about their current cap issues first. Winning a handful of bucks with a hunter trade is stealing from Peter to pay Paul, unless you get lucky and land several talented Pauls. It’s hard to understand how the math adds up for this team to be good enough to compete by subtracting an elite passer and only adding a player or two.
And now we are back to the beginning. How is this all supposed to work? What is everyone missing? How are they supposed to do enough to be legitimately competitive for 2022, set the stage for the future, and get around Cousins caps and no-trade clause?
It may end up remaining deformed throughout this year. They could very well end up looking like 2020 or 2021 next season, with their eyes on the next offseason to draft a quarterback and create real cap space to ink the best talent available in the world, then chase Lombardi up to until the brakes turn off.
At the moment, it’s hard to say. So, for now, we only have theories.