A big-name Viking defensive player could find his head on the chopping block as the team seeks to re-tool, while loading up on valuable cap space, after a dismal effort in 2013.
It’s been a busy offseason already for Rick Spielman as he and new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer seek to re-work a talent-deprived roster.
The Vikes originally had 13 guys set to hit free agency, including such notables as Kevin Williams, Jared Allen and Everson Griffen, but that number swelled to 15 when both Matt Cassel and Charlie Johnson had their contracts voided last week.
Erin Henderson is on the street after being outright released in the wake of his two DUI arrests.
And there could be more cuts coming in the near future, Rick Spielman has indicated.
Spielman discussed the roster situation with reporters Friday. He talked about potentially bringing in free agents, then said somewhat portentously, “We will look at moving on from some players, too, that may currently be under contract. So there is going to be a lot of moving parts.”
The Vikings are already in a healthy situation cap-wise – they possess the fourth-most cap space in the league by current projections – but they could free up even more cap room by moving on from some high-priced veterans.
One man who comes up more and more in speculation about potential cuts is linebacker Chad Greenway.
Greenway is set to count $8.2 million against the Vikings’ cap in 2014, $3.4 million of which is dead money. Outright releasing Greenway would save $4.8 million against the cap this year.
The fact is that Greenway’s performance the last couple years has not been in line with his high salary. The Vikings gave him a 5-year, $41 million deal back in 2011, and even then that seemed like a lot. Greenway has not improved since 2011, in fact his performance dipped in 2013 to the point where he became at times an outright liability (despite his gaudy tackling statistics).
Greenway can still muster a good game now and then, enough to remind you of the player we once hoped he might become, but he hasn’t put together enough consistent greatness to justify paying him the $17 million remaining on his deal.
It’s always possible the Vikings could approach Greenway about a re-negotiation, but outright releasing him might be the best course of action given his declining performance and the cap relief such a move would provide.
Greenway is not the only veteran who might be earmarked for release. Letroy Guion, Jerome Felton and John Carlson are also guys you can argue are making too much money given their production/role on the team.
Josh Robinson and Mistral Raymond are both players of dubious value, though cutting them would save you only a negligible amount of money.
Jamarca Sanford is another veteran with a decent-sized contract, but his play the last two years was steady enough to warrant his sticking around, and if he continues developing he could actually be a bargain at $2.7 million for 2014.
No question, Rick Spielman will have some tough calls to make this offseason. Mike Zimmer and DC George Edwards will help him evaluate what is there on the roster and hopefully pinpoint some free agents who might represent upgrades. Then it’s up to Rick to swing the deals.
Goodness knows, the Vikings need a serious talent upgrade, especially on defense. The draft won’t be enough.