The Vikings are not acting out of desperation when they make moves such as cutting tight end John Carlson on Wednesday. They have one of the best salary cap positions in the league, about $33 million under the $133 million cap for 2014.
The Carlson move came as a surprise to no one. He was scheduled to cost $5 million against the salary cap in 2014 and his history of injuries, including three concussions in the last three years, has been part of the reason he hasn't lived up to the contract the Vikings rushed in front of him in 2012.
Teams are required to be cap compliant by the start of the new league year on Tuesday. The Vikings are already there and have been there for a long time. But just because their top 51 players' salaries don't even come close to reaching the $133 million limit doesn't necessarily mean they are done asking for restructures on contracts or considering cutting additional players.
One month ago, when Matt Cassel opted out of his contract, we laid out the most likely contract restructures or cuts. From that list of five players, two – Carlson and LB Erin Henderson – have already been cut.
If the Vikings are looking to further reduce their salary commitments, below are the remaining three we highlighted on Feb. 6.
LB Chad Greenway: The productive linebacker spent much of 2013 playing with a broken wrist, so it's hard to argue his toughness or even his production considering the circumstances, despite some of the missed tackles that were likely the result of the wrist injury. Greenway extended his contract in September 2011 and received an $8.5 million signing bonus that is being prorated $1.7 million over the life the contract that runs through 2015. Because there is no huge prorated bonus money and because of Greenway being easily the Vikings' best and most experienced linebacker, it's unlikely a restructure would take place, but just given the nature of his $8.2 million cap number in 2014, it's one of the first contracts to jump out from the Vikings' roster.
DT Letroy Guion: When Guion signed a three-year, $9 million extension with the Vikings in 2012, their hope was that he could be the anchoring nose tackle in the role Pat Williams used to man. Guion has been the starter there, but he hasn't dominated and has been almost a rotational player per his snap count. A $4.3 million cap charge for him in 2014 seems overpriced and it would cost the team only $300,000 to release him. A better idea? See if he's willing to extend and take a much lesser salary and compete for a starting job.
FB Jerome Felton: The Browns carried a fullback, Chris Ogbonnaya, on their roster in 2013, so the assumption here is that new Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner will continue to employ a fullback for the Vikings like he did last year with the Browns. Jerome Felton is a calming leader in the locker room and has proven to be a worthy starting fullback, but he is also due to count $2.33 million against the 2014 salary cap. The guess here is that they keep him in the fold for at least another year, but Zach Line is also returning after a decent showing early in the 2013 season before being placed on injured reserve, and he would cost less than $500,000.
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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