No June 1 Megacuts Coming

The Vikings still have more than $20 million in room available under the salary cap, but with the increases in the cap, the June 1 cut period isn't as big a deal as it used to be. Therefore, the Vikings might want to get creative with either rookie deals or veteran contract extensions to get closer to the 2007 cap and save cash for the future.

There was a time when June 1 was a huge turning point in the free-agent market. Teams that were pressed tight against the salary cap would use the June 1 date to dump big salaries because they could spread out the cap hit over two seasons.

But, with the sharp rise in the cap over the past two seasons thanks to the near-lockout in March 2006, few teams have the salary cap woes that were commonplace just two or three years ago. Instead, teams that had cap issues are now finding more creative ways to dump big salaries than a June 1 veteran fire sale.

While there still may very well be some name players hitting the free agent market come Friday, don't expect to see the typical run of veterans to hit the road from their current homes. That could create a strange situation for the Vikings.

Another factor is a relatively new caveat in free agency that allows teams to designate a player as a "post-June 1" release before that date and have his remaining salary-cap hit spread out over two years. It's a new rule implemented to give veterans more time to catch on with another team if they are dumped for cap reasons.

Having identified the 2007 free-agent market as a weak crop, the Vikings and several other teams opted not to throw down big money after free agents that could potentially break the bank. As a result, the Vikings still have more than $20 million, even after their rookie pool money is spent, in room under the cap. While not obligated to spend up to the cap limit, the Vikings do have to get in the vicinity of the cap minimum – which could result in some creative bookkeeping on their part.

The Vikings saved some cap space by signing contract extensions with Kevin Williams, E.J. Henderson and Bryant McKinnie late in the 2006 season and have the chance to use up some free space by doing the same with any key veterans the team would like to extend.

While top draft choices often get $15 million or more in guaranteed money, the Vikings have the opportunity to make much of Adrian Peterson's guaranteed money count against this year's salary cap. That way, by the time 2008 free agency begins, much of Peterson's 2007 cap hit would be off the books and the Vikings would once again have cash in the $20 million-plus neighborhood to spend on free agency.

You can bet the money wizards at Winter Park are contemplating how to best protect their interests in the coming years. While the Class of 2007 in free agency was no great shakes, don't be surprised to see the Vikings getting their ducks in a row to make a free agent splash in 2008, when the talent may catch up to the available cap room.

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