This season could bring the final year of the salary cap in the NFL, but if the concept of the salary cap is doing down, the money available within that cap right now is going up.
In January, the salary cap for the 2009 season was expected to open at $124 million. Shortly before free agency commenced, it shot up to $127 because teams failed to spend what was expected of them (59.5 percent) on players' salaries and benefits in 2008. Now, because of "accounting figures that were finalized in May," according to what league spokesman Greg Aiello told FoxSports.com, the cap is going up $947,000 to $128 million.
Normally, the final nudge upward wouldn't have increased the cap space until next season, but because the NFL owners opted out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players, 2010 is being termed the "Final League Year" in the CBA and won't operate with a salary cap unless a deal is reached before the start of free agency next year.
What does all of this mean to the Vikings? Currently, not much.
The team now has about $18 million under the salary cap but has already exceeded the cap "floor" of $107.8 million. Minnesota also has been allocated just over $3 million to sign its rookies.
The Vikings would have enough room remaining to sign Brett Favre if that ever comes to fruition and still have at least the few million dollars that they like for flexibility during the season to sign additional free agents as injuries or poor play dictates.
WINFIELD vs. FAVRE?
The Favre speculation has brought out the sentiment from Pioneer Press columnist Charley Walters that the team might have to decide between the former Green Bay quarterback or extending the contract of cornerback Antoine Winfield.
Winfield is scheduled to count $6.1 million against the team's cap in 2009, the final year of his contract. It's unlikely the Vikings wouldn't be able to afford (in salary cap terms) both Favre and an extension for Winfield given their currently favorable situation since Winfield's salary already counts against this year's salary cap. In order to alleviate money hitting this year's cap, the Vikings would have option to turn a signing bonus into a roster bonus in future years if they truly wanted to extend Winfield and sign Favre.
Additionally, without knowing the structure of any new CBA, it's impossible to accurately speculate on what might fit in future years – if there is any cap at all.
Speaking of Favre (like we haven't before), Scout.com has been conducting an online poll of general NFL fans and their feelings toward him coming out of retirement. Here are the results from the poll on Scout.com's NFL page:
You can still add to the totals and change the percentages.
ROSENFELS ON FAVRE
Speaking of Favre (like we haven't before), current Vikings quarterback Sage Rosenfels could be tiring of the talk. It doesn't look like he wanted to expand on the issue with the Des Moines (Iowa) Register recently.
"It doesn't make any sense to comment on something that hasn't happened," the former Iowa State Cyclone told the paper last week.
Former Bears quarterback Kyle Orton, who had to deal with the Jay Cutler trade rumors in Chicago before he was actually shipped to Denver for Cutler, knows the drill.
"Whether it's me or somebody else, there's always something going on regarding the quarterback position, wherever you're at," Orton told the Register. "We've got to give you guys something to write about."
And "you guys" (and us guys) do.
BIRK STILL BALLING
Most of the Baltimore Ravens veterans didn't participate in the final day of the mandatory minicamp because of coach John Harbaugh's 30-plus club (he gives players over the age of 30 every third day off).
But Harbaugh pointed out that former Vikings center Matt Birk, 32, practiced. "He was 29 today," Harbaugh said of Birk.
Mandatory minicamp is the only spring camp Birk participated in last year with the Vikings. He skipped the organized teams activities to be around his family more often, he said, but there was plenty of speculation he was also protesting not receiving a contract extension. The Vikings didn't make a serious effort to re-sign him until it was too late and he had already visited Baltimore during free agency this year.
Syndicated content contributed to this notebook.
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