6 contracts Vikings can adjust to create salary cap space

The Minnesota Vikings’ competitive rebuild approach has been a major talking point among analysts. Why not just tear it down and rebuild from the ground up? Well, if you haven’t been paying attention, they did that while winning 20 games over the last two seasons.

In order to keep things moving in the right direction, the Vikings will need to continue adjusting the cap to meet their needs. The salary cap just went up $30 million, a near 14% increase year over year, something that hasn’t been seen prior to this season.

If they want to create even more cap space to make a huge splash in free agency, they absolutely can do that. What contracts could be modified to fulfill that goal? These six players can have their contracts modified in different ways to create cap space in 2024.

RT Brian O'Neill

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Cap hit: $22,930,876
Base salary: $14,400,000

O’Neill is a tricky one on this list. He was restructured last year to give the Vikings some breathing room. That has made his dead cap hit if he were to be cut this year $19,742,117. Now, he’s not getting cut but it shows you what kind of money is already pushed out into the future. A restructure without adding void years would save approximately $8.8 million on the salary cap in 2024 while adding two void years could save approximately $10.56 million. That is a significant amount of capital to work with but it also certifies that O’Neill will be here long-term, which was always the likely scenario.

CB Byron Murphy Jr.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hit: $10,911,765
Base salary: $8,300,000

Murphy was signed to a two-year deal last offseason but there were three void years with $1.4 million attached to each of them. With his $8.3 million in base salary, you could move approximately $7.1 million to a signing bonus and save $5.325 million in cap space for 2024. This would be a move to make if you planned on keeping Murphy long-term. With that in mind, an extension might be the best play since the void years are already in tact.

OLB Marcus Davenport

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hit: $6,800,000
Base salary: $0

Davenport is a player that is scheduled to hit the salary cap with his $6.8 million in dead money ($1.7 million in each of the next four seasons). The easiest way to improve the cap hit is by extending him before his contract voids. For example, signing Davenport to a one year, $5 million contract would save the Vikings $100,000 on the salary cap in 2024. Considering the need at edge rusher for this team, it’s a smart move to bring him back at the price of essentially free to help the cap space.

TE T.J. Hockenson

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hit: $14,041,176
Base salary: $9,900,000

Hockenson has four years left on his contract, which means that he is an easy candidate for a restructure with his place on the team seemingly held in tact. There is a void year on his deal currently built in for this exact thing in 2028 that doesn’t have any money on it. A restructure would spread out approximately $8.7 million over the next five seasons saving nearly $7 million on the cap this year. Is it the wisest move to do so coming off of a torn ACL? That’s an interesting discussion point. However, players are usually just fine coming back from the injury.

WR Justin Jefferson

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hit: $19,743,000
Base salary: $19,743,000

One of the easiest ways to create cap space is to extend Jefferson. They could take his base salary down to around $1.2 million plus whatever the Vikings give him in a signing bonus. Let’s say it’s $5 million per season so that cap number all of the sudden is $6.2 million, dropping it $13.543 million. It will take both sides agreeing on that extension but it’s an easy way to clear cap space for now without having dead money in the future.

S Harrison Smith

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hit: $19,215,882
Base salary: $14,450,000

Last season, Smith took a major pay cut down to $7.5 million in base salary with his cap hit dropping nearly $7 million to stay in Minnesota in 2023. There is a real chance that Smith ends up retiring and that would save the Vikings $11,384,116. If Smith wants to return, another reworked salary for 2024 could be in the cards, but it likely would be for more of a pay cut than it was last season.

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Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire