The focus of the Minnesota Vikings front office and coaching staff would appear to be on the building process for the 2017 season, but, behind the scenes, there are plenty of ongoing discussions about the future of the team following the 2017 season.
Why? Because they are going to have a lot more questions next year than they did when they decided to part ways with guys like Matt Kalil and Cordarrelle Patterson this year. A year from now, things are going to be much more pressing if the Vikings don’t start making big decisions with their current 2018 free agent class.
The Vikings picked up the fifth-year option on Xavier Rhodes, but to keep him long-term is going to likely require an eight-figure-a-year deal.
But, the issues don’t stop there. There’s the case of the injured guys – Teddy Bridgewater and Sharrif Floyd. The Vikings were forced to keep Floyd due to his knee injury and there has been plenty of discussion of “tolling” Bridgewater's rookie contract. Will they have the cap space or belief that injuries won’t recur given the severity of both?
Then there are the old guys. Terence Newman and Joe Berger are in the final years of their deals and Brian Robison has a relatively cap-friendly deal, but $3.5 million in a tight salary-cap scenario is never a guarantee.
Then there are the guys on prove-it deals. Michael Floyd could be a steal for the price he was paid and the same may be true with Datone Jones if the Vikings find a spot for him. In 2018 will they feel the same way, especially if their asking price is markedly higher?
Then there are the in-house guys who have been part of the organization for some time as role players - Jerick McKinnon, Marcus Sherels, Shamar Stephen, Antone Exum and Jabari Price. While none of them would be deal-breakers, they all have value to the organization.
While Vikings fans have their football blinders on focusing mostly on the 2017 season, those behind the walls of Winter Park have bigger hot-button issues to discuss as to how they’re going to allocate their free-agent money – either this year to avoid potentially losing them or next year when the line may form to take a few of them away.