The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a successful but odd season. They won the NFC North but had an unceremonious playoff loss to the New York Giants. They won many one-score games this season some in unbelievable fashion (see the Buffalo Bills game). They now go into the offseason with a lot of questions. The Vikings are $23 million over the cap with a lot of aging players, especially on defense. Here are 3 potential cap casualties for the Minnesota Vikings.
Smith was a cap casualty last year with the Packers. The Vikings picked him up hoping he could provide them with some huge pass rush numbers. In the first half of the season, it looked to be one of the biggest offseason signings. The back half of the season saw his numbers fall off drastically. He only managed 1.5 sacks after week 8. His cap number is $15.5 million in 2023 and the Vikings can save $12.1 million by releasing him. If Smith was a sack machine, they might look to keep him. With the production and the cap hit, I expect him to be released.
Kendricks is a beloved player in Minnesota. However, like so many other players on the Vikings’ defense, he is aging. He will be 31 next season and is coming off of an okay season. He wasn’t bad but he also wasn’t the superstar linebacker that fans had come to expect. He is set to count at $11.4 million against the cap. It is always tough to move on from beloved franchise players but the mark of a good team is to know when to move on. The Vikings could also look to move him for a mid to late-round pick in order to replenish some of their draft capital.
Similar to Kendricks, Smith has been a beloved player for many years with the franchise. He has had many high-level seasons in the safety position. Smith turns 34 next month which would make him the second-oldest safety under contract behind Devin McCourty. If he is on the books he will be a massive $19.7 million hit against the cap. The key to his deal is that it includes no guaranteed money meaning the Vikings save at least $7.3 million if they cut him.
Minnesota Vikings Cap Casualties: The Brian Flores Factor
The Vikings made a big splash coaching hire by getting Brian Flores as their new defensive coordinator. He is the reason that making these cuts may not feel so bad. Flores is a good coordinator that can do more with less. Instead of paying the hefty price tag for aging stars, the Vikings can get younger and save some money. Flores will be able to coach up the younger players and probably get more out of them.
The Minnesota Vikings have a tall task for next year. Duplicating success will be difficult. Records in one-score games is a notoriously volatile stat from year to year. The Lions and Packers both are still division contenders and the Bears should be better next year. They have made good offseason moves so far and hopefully, that will continue.