The Vikings spent most of their offseason resources on offense and kept an $18 million quarterback on the roster. Still, despite all that, for the first time in the Mike Zimmer era the Vikings this season are devoting more of their salary cap space to defense than they are to offense.
They have $83.7 million tied up on defense compared to $80.8 million on offense, according to OverTheCap.com, the best site for NFL salary info.
(And with a few young standouts nearing the end of their contracts, their defensive spending should continue to climb in the coming years.)
Yesterday, we looked at the team’s 2017 cap spending on offense. Today, we’ll go position by position on defense (and special teams, too).
DEFENSIVE LINE ($39.8 million, seventh in the NFL): Last season, it was an underperforming offensive line that gobbled up the largest chunk of cap space. This year, the defensive line, the strongest Vikings position group, is getting the most money. Pro Bowlers Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph are two of their highest-paid players and Sharrif Floyd, who might not even play this season, is locked in at $6.8 million due to the injury guarantee on his fifth-year option. Brian Robison took a pay cut but still has a $5 million cap number. And newcomer Datone Jones, brought in to potentially replace Floyd, will make $3.7 million this season.
LINEBACKERS ($11.3 million, 29th in the NFL): Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, their two every-down linebackers, have a combined cap hit of $5.5 million. Backup Emmanuel Lamur actually makes twice as much as Kendricks. But the Vikings won’t be paying bargain-bin prices at this spot for much longer. Both Barr and Kendricks will have one year left on their contracts after this season and will be candidates for new deals.
CORNERBACKS ($20.9 million, 14th in the NFL): Xavier Rhodes, who earned his first Pro Bowl honor last season, will make $8.0 million in 2017 on his fifth-year option — unless, of course, he signs a lucrative extension before the season. Terence Newman and Trae Waynes both have cap hits north of $3.5 million. And Marcus Sherels, even though he ideally only sees the field on special teams, will make $2 million this season. Add it all up and that’s a sizable chunk of change at the cornerback position.
SAFETIES ($11.7 million, 18th in the NFL): Despite employing one of the NFL’s best and highest-paid safeties in Harrison Smith, the Vikings are near the middle of the pack for cap spending on safeties. That’s because Smith’s partner, Andrew Sendejo, has an affordable salary and the team’s backups are all young players on team-friendly rookie deals.
SPECIAL TEAMS ($4.1 million, ranking unknown): Kai Forbath and Ryan Quigley, the respective favorites to kick and punt this season, have identical cap numbers of $775,000. That is less than what has been devoted to long snapper Kevin McDermott, who has a $910,000 cap hit. Wondering how that adds up to $4.1 million? Don’t forget about the $1.7 million in dead money still on the books after cutting Blair Walsh last season.