Pre-Free Agency Moves Expected

The Vikings are expected to make some roster moves before free agency begins.

According to a source close to the team, the Vikings are expected to trim as much as $10 million from their current roster before the start of free agency on Friday.

The team is currently about $12.4 million under the league-imposed cap, which is $109 million this year.

There are several moves the Vikings could make to get to $20 to $25 million under the cap:

  • They are expected to release quarterback Brad Johnson, who has a $1.1 million salary scheduled for 2007. Head coach Brad Childress said last week at the Combine that it was just a matter of timing before Johnson was released.

  • The team could release one of their starting tight ends, either blocking tight end Jim Kleinsasser or pass-catching tight end Jermaine Wiggins – or maybe even both if the team is confident is can acquire replacements that are better fits with the West Coast offense.

    Kleinsasser still has two years on his contract, but he is due $2.9 million each in 2007 and 2008. Last year, he caught only seven passes for 47 yards.

    Wiggins' receiving production dropped as well in 2006, although the team didn't throw his way as often. He was tied for second on the team with 46 catches and had 386 yards. He had 71 and 69 catches in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Wiggins is due $1.05 million in base compensation in 2007 and that is scheduled to escalate to $1.75 million by 2009.

  • Cornerback Fred Smoot, after a difficult two seasons with the Vikings on and off the field, is expected to be released. He has a 2007 base salary of $2.7 million that escalateds to $4.9 million and above in each of the following three seasons.

  • The team is expected to try and restructure the contracts of right tackle Mike Rosenthal, who is no longer a full-time starter with the Vikings, and Pro Bowl center Matt Birk.

    Rosenthal is due $1.45 million in 2007, a number that increases to almost $2.3 million in 2008. The Vikings met with Joe Linta, the agent for Rosenthal and Birk last week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and it appears that both players would be agreeable to restructuring of some sort.

    In Birk's case, that is expected to be an extension that would allow him to finish his career as a Viking. Birk has two years left on his contract, which has base salaries of $4.63 and $5.32 million in 2007 and 2008, respectively. An extension of a couple of years might help lower the overall cap value of his contract in the next two seasons.

    The additional cap room may help Childress turn over the roster more quickly with players he believes to be a better fit for his offense and defense. The team will also be entering a very competitive free-agent season where four teams – San Francisco, Tennesseee, Buffalo and Arizona – are believed to have at least $30 million under the cap. Another eight teams are thought to have $20 million or more in cap space, and the Vikings could join that second tier of teams if they trim another $10 million from their cap.

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