May 3 is less than three weeks away, but between now and then we may find out a lot about the direction the Minnesota Vikings are heading and how the front office feels about two of its young stars – Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater.
Between now and May 3, the Vikings need to determine whether or not they’re going to apply the fifth-year option to the rookie contracts of Barr and Bridgewater, who were both first-round picks in the 2014 draft.
Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, all rookie contracts are four-year deals with the option of adding a fifth year to the deal for first-round selections. For the Vikings, the decision gets a little dicey on both counts.
For Barr, it’s based upon where he was drafted. For Bridgewater is based upon the prognosis that won’t be spoken.
The top 10 picks of the 2014 draft class are awarded the transition tender for their fifth-year option – the average of the top 10 salaries at his position. In 2016, that price for a linebacker was $11.93 million. If history tells us anything, the 2018 fifth-year option will be markedly higher.
While Mike Zimmer has stated he wants to see more out of Barr, he clearly has the respect of his peers – two Pro Bowls speak to that. Those are the kind of accolades that get guys a second contract, unless your Pro Bowl appearances are tied into special teams prowess.
Bridgewater will be in line for similar money. Even at the back end of the line for his draft slot – picks Nos.11-32 – the era of “Kirk Cousins money” is becoming a thing.
Therein lies Problem Two.
The organization is fresh in the heavy-lifting portion of Sharrif Floyd’s fifth-year option because it is guaranteed in the event of injury. Will the same offer be afforded to Teddy?
Odds are fans will have a much better handle on the Vikings’ thought process after the deadline comes and goes than is currently available.
The clock is ticking on a franchise-shifting pair of decisions as to how roster dollars are going to be allocated.
Last year it wasn’t an issue. You sign up with Xavier Rhodes and Floyd. You put Patterson on a “prove it” contract and he proves it.
This time around? Get your purple popcorn ready.