With cap space limited, spending to dwindle

The Vikings don't have much space under the salary cap, but they aren't alone. More than half the teams have less than $9 million available.

As the first wave of free agency has begun, it has become readily apparent that, barring teams getting high-priced veterans to continue restructuring contracts, the market for the remaining 2013 free agents might be somewhat limited – not all 32 teams can be involved.

Using calculations by the NFL Players Association Tuesday, the Vikings ranked 21st in available cap space at $5.1 million – although technically they are now No. 20 with Atlanta signing Osi Umenyiora. What makes that important is that there are five teams (Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Philadelphia) that have more than five times the available cap space the Vikings have.

In all, 13 teams have at least $10.7 million in available cap space (more than double what Minnesota has available) and three teams (St. Louis, Carolina and Dallas) all have $1 million in available cap space or less.

Here is a breakdown of the available cap space by team – the figures used to determine how much money they can spend in what remains of free agency (with the need to keep space available to sign the rookie class, too).

1. Cincinnati $28.9 million
2. Cleveland $28.7 million
3. Tampa Bay $27.8 million
4. Jacksonville $26.6 million
5. Philadelphia $26.3 million
6. Green Bay $18.3 million
7. Buffalo $16.8 million
8. Miami $15.7 million
9. Arizona $14 million
10. New England $13.4 million
11. New York Jets $13 million
12. Indianapolis $11.7 million
13. Tennessee $10.7 million
14. Denver $8.8 million
15. Baltimore $7.2 million
16. Detroit $7.2 million
17. San Diego $7 million
18. Seattle $6.8 million
19. Atlanta $6.2 million
20. Chicago $5.3 million
21. Minnesota $5.1 million
22. Houston $4.9 million
23. New York Giants $4.5 million
24. San Francisco $4.5 million
25. New Orleans $3.3 million
26. Washington $3.2 million
27. Kansas City $3.1 million
28. Oakland $2.8 million
29. Pittsburgh $2.5 million
30. St. Louis $1 million
31. Carolina $936,000
32. Dallas $51,000

The figures indicate that, for the most part, the Vikings are done in free agency – having invested the lion's share of their available cap space in re-signing more than a half-dozen of their own players and make one "big splash" signing in Greg Jennings.

It would seem that if the remaining two-thirds of the free agents that are still unsigned are looking for a deal, they had better get used to life in the Rust Belt or in Florida. A wild card could be the Packers. With so much available space ($18.3 million), they could potentially load up on one-year deals for veterans looking to get a Super Bowl ring. With more available money than the other three NFC North teams combined, the Pack could make some significant noise between now and the start of the regular season if they're willing to take veterans looking for a short-term ride for a shot at a championship.

But, for the Vikings, the pool is running dry and the chances of making another impact signing seem dim at best. Look at the current Vikings roster and expect to see most of the new names on it a month from now to be the members of the draft class of 2013, not recognizable names from other teams.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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