New Cap Figures Have Vikings Far Lower

The new figures have the Vikings significantly lower in available cap space than previously thought -- at about the bottom third of the league. Who could be the big daddies of free agency? Unfortunately for the Vikings, some of them include the other teams in the NFC North.

Figuring out the salary cap is always a difficult process, because so many contracts can be dumped at any time and make a team that one day looks to be cap-strapped into kings within a couple of a well-timed cuts. According to a couple of sources, the Vikings, who were estimated as having as much as $30 million in cap space in December, are currently said to be about $12.2 million under the cap.

There are only 11 teams that have less cap space – the Colts are currently the most cap-strapped with only $200,000 in available cash to spend – but the Vikings current cap total could increase substantially if rumored cuts of players like Fred Smoot, Dwight Smith, Mike Rosenthal, Jermaine Wiggins and Brad Johnson come through. Even if all of those players are cut, the Vikings might find themselves looking up at the rest of the division when it comes to cap room.

The Packers currently lead the division in respect to cap space with $24.8 million in available spending. The Bears are next with $17 million, followed closely by the Lions with $15.6 million in cap space.

Around the league, 12 teams have more than $20 million in available cap room, led by the 49ers ($37.6 million), Titans ($37.3 million), Bills ($33.2 million) and Cardinals ($32.1 million). Among playoff teams, the potential big spenders include the Patriots ($26.6 million), Saints ($21.7 million), Chargers ($20.9 million) and Jets ($21.1 million).

While the free agent market can be a fickle beast, for the Vikings to be real players – especially early on in the process when the top free agents raise the bar for those that follow – there are likely going to have be some cuts. Last year, they were big players early, signing linebacker Ben Leber, running back Chester Taylor and kicker Ryan Longwell right out of the gate.

The team is spending the next few weeks evaluating not only their own players, but the free agent market and the rookie crop for the draft. If the organization is convinced it can take a step forward at a specific position like offensive line, secondary, quarterback or tight end, the players in those spots could be quickly released to open up available space. Otherwise, don't expect the Vikes to be big-time players in the free agent market, at least to the extent they were last year.

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