With more news that the new CBA will almost certainly allow 4-year veteran players to be unrestricted free agents and teams will be required to spend close to the salary cap, the time has come to look at where the Vikings stand on current financial commitments for the 2011 season. Most of us are concerned that Sidney Rice will move onto greener pastures, but lets take a step back before we all panic more than Tarvaris Jackson making his first start as a rookie at Lambeau.
Various figured have been thrown out as to what the salary cap will be in 2011. Roger Goodell proposed $141 million just before the NFLPA decertified and Chris Mortensen of ESPN used a figure tonight of $120 million (Quick Thought — With all due respect to Mort that’s a figure that only a moron would throw out. In 2009 the salary cap was $128 million, league revenue has since increased in a down economy and owners/players are currently fighting over a new CBA. You think players agree to a lower dollar amount than they had in ’09 and lower than Goodell proposed months ago? Maybe there’s some other perks for players worked into the new TV deal in 2014 or better retirement benefits. Details still emerging here…). At any rate according to my calculations, the Vikings currently have $108 million committed to the 2011 season. Below are the players on the team who are set to make more than $1 million next season…
Adrian Peterson $10,720,000
Chad Greenway $10,091,000
Jared Allen $8,979,438
Antoine Winfield $6,750,000
Steve Hutchinson $6,680,000
Kevin Williams $6,000,000
Madieu Williams $5,400,000
Bryant McKinnie $4,900,000
E.J. Henderson $4,700,000
Bernard Berrian $3,900,000
Cedric Griffin $3,350,000
Visanthe Shiancoe $3,100,000
Jim Kleinsasser $3,000,000
Brian Robison $2,700,000
Anthony Herrera $2,650,000
Jimmy Kennedy $2,500,000
Heath Farwell $1,750,000
Greg Camarillo $1,700,000
Chris Kluwe $1,180,000
There are a four key points to take away from this list…
• It’s believed that Adrian Peterson will hold out unless the Vikings restructure his deal. The going rate for a top-tier running back (and Adrian is debatably the best) is expected to be $12 to $14 million a season, but he’s also already the highest paid player on the team and a new deal would be back ended with the later years being the most expensive.
• Chad Greenway’s $10.091 million is working off of the franchise tag he recently signed. He obviously wants to be here long-term, will be happy to work out a long term teal guaranteeing him more than the $10 million he is making now and his contract will be laddered out over a number of years with 2011 being the lowest amount paid.
• “Cut Candidates” — Both Bernard Berrian ($3.9 million) and Madieu Williams ($5.4 million) have underachieved here since signing their big deals and have already had their guaranteed money paid out making them likely to be cut. Also Anthony Herrera ($2.6 million) is now in his early 30s, has been a below average run blocker for Adrian Peterson, is coming off of a torn ACL in his knee and backup Chris DeGeare did show promise towards the end of the last year. Cutting Berrian, Herrera and Williams could easily free up $11.9 million.
• Unsigned Players. Before we think there’s money to burn, don’t forget there are key players not on this list who are bound to make their loot very soon – namely Christian Ponder (rookie wage scale aside, he’s likely to make north of $3 million in his first season) and Percy Harvin (who’s contract isn’t up until 2014, but team will want to extend in next year or two). Also the Vikings currently do not have a kicker signed with Ryan Longwell a free agent.
In theory, there is cap space to the tune of about $20 million available for the Vikings to sign Sidney Rice to a lucrative deal. The only three wide receivers making north of $10 million next season are Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Roddy White; therefore a little less than half of that would immediately make Sidney one of the top five paid receivers in the game. But do the Vikings want to break the bank on a guy who has had one great year and three injury riddled ones? According to Tom Pelissero today, does any team?
We are also entering unchartered waters with regards to this year’s free agency period. Other teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (mind you, both were winning teams last season) have twice the flexibility that we do and our rivaled Chicago Bears also have the space to make a free agency splash or two. Teams will be forced to sign players for big money just to get above a salary floor! We simply have to expect the unexpected. Then again, aren’t we accustomed to that?
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig