Increased cap doesn't prohibit more massaging

The Vikings are in very solid cap position, but that doesn't mean they are done looking at other options to create more room.

The salary cap is increasing to $133 million for 2014, an increase of $10 million over the 2013 cap. That will help every team's cap situation, but it doesn't mean there won't be more cap maneuvers.

The Vikings are sitting with about $31 million in cap space, but general manager Rick Spielman said last week that releasing additional players is still a possibility (they already released LB Erin Henderson earlier this month). Spielman's sentiment came when he figured the cap would be at $130 million, but the increased room won't necessarily prevent the Vikings from making moves to put themselves in an even better cap position, and that includes potentially restructuring contracts.

"Potentially. We're open to all avenues: cuts, restructures, trades, signing UFAs, drafting players," Spielman said. "We're an equal opportunity employment agency."

The Vikings ended the 2013 league year with $812,000 in cap space, meaning they won't have much money to carry over to further increase their cap space. Last year, they carried forward just over $8 million in cap space from 2012, making their team cap more than $129 million.

Not surprisingly, Spielman said he didn't anticipate the Vikings using their franchise tag on any of their players. They don't really have any viable free agents for the use of that tag.

Jared Allen would cost more than $20 million with the franchise tag because of the franchise tag rule that says it is the average of the top five salaries at the position or 120 percent of the player's salary last year, whichever is greater. Allen's $17 million cap number from 2013 would enact the 120 percent clause.

The deadline to execute franchise or transition tags is 3 p.m. Central Monday.

ALTERED LANGUAGE?

ESPN reported that some teams were changing the language in the contracts for coaches that would require them to be tolerant of players and thereby reducing the liability of teams if allegations were brought against a coach.

It could be a reaction to the Miami Dolphins mess involving the bullying allegations from Jonathan Martin against the Dolphins coaches and offensive lineman Richie Incogniti. The Vikings have their own ongoing investigation into allegations from former punter Chris Kluwe that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer used anti-gay language in the presence of players in 2012.

"I think because it's so much in light right now that you have to monitor the locker room," Spielman said of the new contract language. "It'll be interesting to see once we get down to the owners' meetings in March – I'm sure that'll be a subject that'll be talked about down there."

The owners meetings are March 23-26 in Orlando, Fla.

A MOVE BACK?

There is plenty of time between now and the NFL draft for scenarios to change and the lying season to increase. For now, however, the Vikings are letting it be known that they would be interested in moving back from their No. 8 draft spot to accumulate additional draft picks.

Of course, that scenario depends on who is available with the eighth pick on May 8. With the draft moving back a couple of weeks, it will give the Vikings even more time to prepare and discuss trades.

Because they were hiring a new coaching staff and had more than 100 underclassman coming out for the draft, the Vikings were a little behind schedule but still managed to put together a draft board before they headed down to the NFL Scouting Combine last week.

"I had to wait until we had all the juniors rated, so we don't get those until we're actually down at the Senior Bowl," Spielman said. "So now we have all the background on the juniors. We've still got a lot of work to do on our cross-checks and things like that."

NFL teams had the opportunity to conduct 60 formal interviews of 15 minutes apiece at the Combine.


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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