The Vikings have become one of the few teams to push the envelope in cash and cap space in pursuit of a Super Bowl win. And the envelope-pushing will continue beyond 2019.
Via Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Vikings have $211.638 million in cap charges for 2020. Unless the salary cap skyrockets from $188.2 million this year by more than $23 million next year, the Vikings will have to trim layers of fat.
The prime candidates whose contracts for 2020 won’t be prime rib for the Vikings include tackle Riley Reiff, defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. As Goessling points out, each will be at least 30 next year, and each will have cap numbers of at least $12.9 million.
Of course, another player with those same two factors — 30 or older and cap number of $12.9 million or higher — is quarterback Kirk Cousins. His cap number moves to $31 million in 2020, fueled by a fully-guaranteed salary of $29.5 million. If the Vikings decide after two years that they’re not interested in going beyond three years with Cousins, the Vikings could explore a potential trade partner for Cousins, even if it means eating a portion of his contract.
And the Vikings may, depending on what happens in San Francisco this year with Jimmy Garoppolo, find that trade partner in Kyle Shanahan, who served as Washington offensive coordinator in 2012 when Cousins was drafted and who had been regarded as a serious Cousins suitor before the decision to trade for and then to sign Garoppolo to a five-year deal that pays out, on average, $27.5 million per year.
If the 49ers decide after 2019 that they no longer want to keep Garoppolo, they can move on at no cost — and with a paltry cap charge of $4.2 million.
Of course, the Vikings would still need a quarterback for 2020, but if they decide after 2019 that Cousins isn’t the answer, finding a replacement becomes secondary to shedding nearly $30 million from the cap burden in one fell swoop.