The "new league year" is schedule to start at 3:01 p.m. Central Thursday with the official ratification of the collective bargaining agreement, which brings up a number of interesting situations for the Vikings in their first week of training camp.
With the ratification, players that signed new contracts after the lockout ended will be able to start practicing. Up until then, those players could attend practices and meetings, but they couldn't participate in practices.
As such, Donovan McNabb (who renegotiated his contract after being traded), Michael Jenkins, Remi Ayodele, Charlie Johnson and all the other unrestricted free agents the Vikings signed have been practice observers so far this week. So have the Vikings' own unrestricted free agents, like kicker Ryan Longwell and defensive tackle Fred Evans. The list also includes restricted free agents like Erin Henderson and Husain Abduallah.
Because of the mid-afternoon deadline for the league year to start, the Vikings switched their Thursday schedule, with the one-hour walk-through practice moved to the morning session and the full-team, fully-padded, 2½-hour practice moved to a 3 p.m. start time.
Originally the start of the new league year was supposed mean teams would have to be in compliance with the $120.375 million salary cap by Thursday afternoon, but Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported late Wednesday night that would be delayed until 3 p.m. Friday.
Either way, the Vikings are believed to be in good shape.
Pro Football Talk reported that the Vikings on Tuesday were $5.6 million over the salary cap, but that is believed to before the $5.4 million savings the Vikings realized by releasing Bryant McKinnie. Head coach Leslie Frazier on Wednesday said McKinnie's release had nothing to do with finances and he didn't think the team would have to cut anyone to get under the cap.
"I don't think so. From everything I've been told, we're in pretty good shape," Frazier said.
The top-51 paid players are counted against the cap, but, despite Pro Football Talk's report, the Vikings could be under the cap because of a two-year exception in the new CBA.
Teams have the option for $3 million in additional cap room by taking up to $1 million off the cap charge for up to three players with five or more accrued seasons. That credit will drop to $1.5 million next year with a maximum of $500,000 per player. So, in essence, the salary cap is $123.375 million, turning a $200,000 deficit into a $2.8 million surplus before the signing of Ryan Cook Wednesday.
The $120.375 million "cash cap" does not include $22.025 million in player benefits.
According to PFT's list, there are three teams further over the cap than them – the Raiders at $17.3 million, the Steelers at $11.5 million and the Texans at $8.5 million.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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