Vikings Rumors

Vikings Facing Cap Issues In 2020

  • The Vikings have been big spenders, aggressively pursuing free agents like Kirk Cousins in recent years while also locking up their own guys. It’s created some cap issues, and Minnesota has been up against the cap all year long. According to a recent analysis from Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune, that’s going to continue in 2020. Per Goessling, the Vikings currently have $211.6MM in cap charges for 2020 on the books. The salary cap this past season was only 188.2, which means the Vikings will have to make some significant cuts next offseason. Goessling lists offensive tackle Riley Reiff, defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Xavier Rhodes as players who could be on the chopping block next year. All four will be at least 30 next season, and all of them have cap numbers of at least $12.9MM, Goessling points out. Minnesota GM Rick Spielman is going to have to get creative.

Vikings, Kyle Rudolph Agree To Extension

The Vikings are giving veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph a four-year, $36MM extension, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Rudolph’s contract made it seem as though the two sides were headed for certain divorce, but the new deal will smooth out the tight end’s cap hit in the interim while presumably giving him guarantees beyond the 2019 season. 

Rudolph’s deal will pay him $9M this year, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (on Twitter). His 2019 salary is fully guaranteed, and his 2020 salary is guaranteed for injury. He’ll get $1.625MM added to his $7.625MM base for this year, giving him $9MM guaranteed in ’19 and $16.025MM in total guarantees (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). After 2020, Rudolph will effectively be on a year-to-year deal until its conclusion in 2023.

All along, Rudolph has said that he wanted to stay with the Vikings, though he was unwilling to take a pay cut. After achieving both goals, it’s clear that Rudolph is happy about the new deal.

Just under a decade ago, I received a phone call that would change my life. On that day, all I knew is that I would be playing in the NFL, realizing my childhood dream. What I didn’t know was the role in the state of Minnesota would play in my life,” Rudolph wrote (on Twitter). “Marrying my wife and established our home..in Minnesota. Experiencing the birth of my three beautiful children…in Minnesota. Starting a journey to better the lives of children dealing with a disease that doesn’t discriminate…in Minnesota. Giving everything I can possibly give, professionally and personally, to the greatest sports franchise and its fans…in Minnesota. And I am honored beyond words to say that my home, our home, will always be…in Minnesota!”

Before the pact, the Vikings had just $612K in cap room. Rudolph will now return to the Vikings where he’ll serve as the team’s No. 1 tight end and mentor to rookie Irv Smith Jr.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Have Plenty Of Position Battles

Vikings To Work Out Justin Vogel, Others

Matt Wile completed his first full NFL season in 2018, serving as the Vikings’ punter for 16 games. He may have some competition for that job soon.

The Vikings are bringing in multiple punters for workouts on Wednesday, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter). Justin Vogel and Shane Tripucka will be among the punters set to audition. Wednesday marks the first day of Minnesota’s minicamp.

A 26-year-old former UDFA out of Michigan, Wile caught on with the Vikings as a 2018 waiver claim. The Steelers cut him after their most recent preseason slate. Wile’s 45.2 yards per punt ranked 14th last season.

Minnesota retained Wile via ERFA tender this offseason; he is the only punter on the 90-man roster. However, the Vikings’ special teams staff experienced a shakeup this year. Longtime ST coordinator Mike Preiffer is gone, and Marwan Maalouf took his place.

Vogel last punted in 2017, serving as Green Bay’s primary punter for all 16 games that year. A Chargers UDFA last year, Tripucka participated in the Vikings’ rookie minicamp last month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hughes Won't Practice Before Training Camp

  • 2018 first round pick Mike Hughes got off to a solid start last year. The Vikings cornerback had a pick-six in the first game of his career, but his rookie season ended in devastating fashion. The UCF product had his season ended by a torn ACL after just six games, and has been rehabbing ever since. Things appear to be going well, but the team is being cautious with him. To that end, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer recently said that he wouldn’t get any practice in until training camp at the earliest, per Andrew Kramer of the Star Tribune. We heard recently the Vikings were listening to trade offers for both Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes, which would seem to indicate they’re optimistic about Hughes’ recovery.

No Extension Talks For Vikings, Mackensie Alexander

We heard earlier today that the Vikings were looking to lock up one member of their 2016 draft class, defensive end Stephen Weatherly. Non-first round 2016 draft picks are set to be free agents after this season, so this is a natural time to begin discussing deals. 

But while the Vikings have clearly made Weatherly a priority, a source told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link) that there haven’t been any such extension talks between Minnesota and Mackensie Alexander. Alexander, a cornerback, was a much earlier draft pick than Weatherly, as the Vikes took Alexander 54th overall out of Clemson in 2016. Despite his draft status, Alexander has struggled for consistent playing time because of the roadblocks in front of him on the depth chart.

That being said, he did play a very large role for the Vikings last year. He made 15 appearances and six starts, racking up 43 tackles, ten passes defended, and four sacks. Overall, he played just over 54 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. He received strong grades from Pro Football Focus, grading out as their 17th-best cornerback.

As of right now, he has Trae Waynes, 2018 first-rounder Mike Hughes, and Xavier Rhodes ahead of him. We’ve heard recently that the Vikings are listening to trade offers on Waynes and Rhodes, and Hughes is coming off an ACL tear, so they might end up needing Alexander. But as of right now, it doesn’t look like they’re dying to extend him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings, DE Stephen Weatherly Discussing Extension

A former seventh-rounder could be eyeing a significant pay raise. Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com reports that the Vikings and defensive end Stephen Weatherly have started to discuss a contract extension.

The 25-year-old is set to make $720K in the final year of his contract, but both sides are hoping this won’t be Weatherly’s final season in Minnesota.

“There’s only one more year left,’’ Weatherly told Tomasson. “If that’s what they want, by all means I’ll be down for (an extension). If they think I’m good enough to keep around, then that would be amazing. I was drafted in the seventh round and worked my way up. That would be a pretty good story to tell my kids one day.’’

Agent Blake Baratz acknowledged that the two sides have discussed a possible extension, but he also noted that there are some hurdles to overcome.

“We’ve had some discussions,’’ Baratz said. “He definitely would like to be here. I know the Vikings want him here. They don’t have the most cap room in the league, so who knows if it will happen before this season, during this season, after this season? I don’t think there’s a timetable on it, but I think it makes sense for both parties. A lot of things have got to play out first, but I think it’s a desire on both parties.’’

As the agent notes, the Viking aren’t working with a whole lot of cap space, as they’re currently sitting with around $612K in room. Further complicating matters are impending extensions for cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. As Tomasson notes, moving tight end Kyle Rudolph and his $7.625MM cap number should provide the Vikings with some wiggle room.

The Vikings selected Weatherly in the seventh round of the 2016 draft, although the Vanderbilt product rarely played during his rookie campaign. The defensive end saw more playing time during the 2017 campaign, and that led to him having a breakout season in 2018. Weatherly finished last season establishing career-highs across the board, compiling 35 tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble in 16 games (six starts).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Notes: Treadwell, Warren

  • Although Laquon Treadwell has struggled mightily during his first three seasons in a Vikings uniform, now is not the time to release the former first-round wide receiver, argues Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com. Treadwell, 24 later this month, posted the best season of his career in 2018, but that only entailed 35 receptions and 302 yards as he played behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Minnesota would incur $2.5MM in dead money by cutting Treadwell, but the club would open up roughly $654K in cap space by doing so. As Cronin indicates, the Vikings could be hoping Treadwell flashes during the preseason and increases his trade value.
  • Vikings chief operating office Kevin Warren was today officially named as the new commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com indicated Monday (Twitter link). Warren will become the first African-American commissioner of a Power Five conference. As Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement, Warren plans to assist Minnesota in a transition phase over the next three months.

Kirk Cousins Eyeing Many More Seasons

  • Kirk Cousins does not have any early retirement plans. In discussing the arrival of rookie center Garrett Bradbury, the second-year Vikings quarterback said he would like to play well into the 2020s. “I told him, ‘I’d like to work together for about the next decade,’ ” Cousins said, via Dane Mizutani of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I just tried to set that vision for him and say, ‘You be the guy here for the next decade and let’s not have to worry about having anybody else snap for the quarterback.” While it is uncertain if Cousins will be in Minnesota beyond 2020, the final year of his fully guaranteed deal, the soon-to-be 31-year-old passer would prefer he stay in the Twin Cities on what would be multiple additional contracts.

Vikings’ George Paton Turns Down Jets

George Paton has completed the hat trick. On Thursday, the Vikings assistant general manager declined to interview with the Jets for the third time in his career, according to Chad Graff, Jon Krawczynski, and Connor J. Hughes of The Athletic (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Jets GM Search Tracker]

Paton turned down the Jets’ invitation to interview for the GM job in 2013 and again in 2015. The well-respected executive will instead remain with the Vikings, leaving Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer, Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly, and Saints director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot as the club’s only known candidates.

There’s no word on why Paton has rejected the Jets (for a third time), but many have speculated that the club’s internal discord and Adam Gase‘s control of the 53-man roster could be sticking points for top candidates.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.