Teams Struggle With Salary Cap

While the Vikings sit with $13 million available on this year's salary cap, many other teams continue to struggle with their own cap, as evidenced Wednesday.

The Vikings spent years buried under the NFL's salary cap -- the cost of making a Super Bowl run in 1998. For the past several years, that run for glory meant players getting cut or free agents being lost because the Vikings couldn't compete.

That's all changed. The Vikings now sit with $13 million in available cap money, while other teams make hard decisions -- either severing ties with starters or forcing their debt into later years (both practices used by the Vikings in the recent past).

Both were on display Wednesday, as two perennial playoff teams showed. The Titans were forced to release seven-year LB Randall Godfrey to save $2 million vs. this year's salary cap. While the Titans have a young stable of LBs that they are confident can step in, nothing is assured and Godfrey won't stay on the free agent market long.

Meanwhile, the Bucs handed Brad Johnson a $6 million signing bonus to extend his contract one year (through 2006) and rework the base money in contract. Why? He gets $6 mil now, but by working a new deal saves the Bucs $1.5 million vs. this year's salary cap.

In the case of the Titans, the cap has forced them to part with a team leader. In the case of the Bucs, it's postponed the heavy cap hit for a team leader down the road a couple of years. It's all part of the salary cap's grand scheme -- enjoy some success, pay the price for it and eventually slide back to the pack.

* As reported yesterday, Matthew Hatchette made it official Wednesday by signing with the Jaguars. One of the reasons given was that he would have a better chance of being a starter or No. 3 guy with the Jags, but that is by no means guaranteed. The Jags recently signed J.J. Stokes and Donald Hayes -- a pair of veterans with starting experience that could make Hatchette another preseason casualty like he was with the Raiders last year, when he lost out in a battle of veterans.
* Former Viking Ed Ta'amu missed the Texans minicamp after having knee surgery. He is expected to be ready for training camp, but, from what we saw of him here, we can only assume the knee injury wasn't football related.
* VU provides this interesting piece of infotainment: Apparently the Falcons aren't making points with vegitarians in Georgia. Wednesday they signed two of their draft picks to add meat to the Falcons defense -- DB Waine Bacon and DE Demetrin Veal. You can't make this stuff up.

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