Sunday slant: Youth movement key to cuts

The Vikings released a couple of contributing veterans among their roster cutdown, further emphasizing Leslie Frazier's commitment to working toward a younger roster. Plus, it didn't hurt their salary cap situation. A look at the moves made and the cap dollars it saved.

The Vikings' cutdown to 53 players reflected two coinciding philosophies – get younger without too much sacrifice in talent and, at the same time, find a bit more breathing room in the salary cap that could be desirable in the future.

Topping the charts were linebacker Heath Farwell and Jeff Dugan, two hard-working veterans of the team that carved out valuable roles over the years. In six seasons with the Vikings, Farwell worked his way from undrafted rookie to a sought-after commodity in the free-agent market two years ago. Back in 2009, he got interest from the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots, but decided to return to the Vikings after a strong commitment from them.

That $1.75 million commitment had to have played a part in the Vikings releasing him. That was his base salary – a big stipend for a special-teams player – and by cutting him, the Vikings save all of that money on their salary-cap structure.

Dugan was another hard-working, blue-collar player. Rare was the day when the blocking tight end wasn't the last player on the field, banging on a blocking sled not only as other players walked off the field but long afterwards, when reporters continued to conduct interviews with players and coaches 15 minutes after the final whistle.

"There's some possibilities I might be back, but at this point I have to look for a new home!," Farwell said in a text. "I've appreciated the opportunity to play in a class organization and thank the Wilf family for everything."

Dugan's release opened the door for former Iowa tight end Allen Reisner, a rookie free agent who costs only $375,000, a savings of about $500,000. The actual spending isn't a problem for the Vikings – the Wilf ownership group is never afraid to spend when necessary (as their commitment to bring in Brett Favre showed) – but the salary cap is a factor. The Vikings entered the weekend with less than $400,000 to spare under the salary cap, but head coach Leslie Frazier said the cap wouldn't dictate their cuts.

"We're fortunate here in Minnesota where the Wilf family is going to do whatever is necessary for us to be competitive and salary-cap wise, we're in good shape," Frazier said after Thursday's preseason finale. "We're in better shape than people realize. We don't have to make any decision on our roster based on our cap."

In one sense, Frazier is right. They didn't have to cut salary for the here and now, but if they want to add any veterans to fill in a position or two with experience, they needed the room to be able to do that and they will have about 800 new players on the free-agent from which to choose.

The reality is that, while they saved some cap room with their cuts, if that was all those moves were about, they could have made a different decision at tight end. Dugan, Jim Kleinsasser and Visanthe Shiancoe were all in the final year of their contract. Shiancoe is due $3.1 million in base salary and Kleinsasser is due $3 million. Choosing either of those options over Dugan would have made it clear that was all about saving under the cap.

Instead, by cutting Dugan, the most important revelation of their roster moves is that they were determined to younger, a necessary transformation of their roster after banking on the failed all-in of 2009.


A quick look at some of the other moves and how much salary they were due:

  • DE Stylez White was due to make $685,000.

  • OL Ryan Cook was scheduled to make $875,000, but the Vikings will have to eat his $125,000 signing bonus.

  • WR Juaquin Iglesias was scheduled to make $450,000 in base salary.

  • RBs Caleb King, Alexander Robinson and Tristan Davis, DE David Akinniyi, OL Thomas Welch and Byron Isom, S Ryan Hill, WRs Emmanuel Arceneaux and Stephen Burton, LB Ross Homan, FBs Ryan D'Imperio and Matt Asiata, DL Tremaine Johnson and Cedric McKinley, CBs Devin Torrence and Cord Parks were all scheduled $375,000 in base salary as first-year players.

  • Second-year player CB Tony Carter was scheduled to make $525,000, and OL Chris DeGeare and WR Juaquin Iglesias $450,000.

  • Third-year LB David Herron was scheduled to make $600,000.

  • WR Andre Holmes received the biggest bonus of the undrafted rookies, earning a $14,000 roster bonus. He was released during the first cutdown to 80 players.

  • Cornerback Devon Torrence received a $9,000 reporting bonus. Hill was given $5,000 and Akinniyi $2,500. Most of the other undrafted rookies received somewhere between $1,500 and nothing for a reporting bonus.

  • As proof that the Vikings didn't let bonuses given out earlier stop them from parting ways, Arceneaux received a $75,000 signing bonus that caused the Vikings to call an audible and classify the other rookie bonuses as reporting bonuses. Arceneaux could be brought back on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

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