Executive Rob Brzezinski is considered very good at a specific and important task: Helping the Vikings navigate the tricky NFL salary cap with creative contract structures that give Minnesota a chance to compete in both the present and future.
But these days we can all be Brzezinski — and by extension Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah — with the push of a few buttons.
Navigate to Spotrac, a good source of NFL team salary cap information, and you can choose a "roster and salary cap manager" option. From there, you can cut players, restructure contracts and add free agents for the Vikings — all hypothetical, of course, but also a very real exercise considering the Vikings are more than $20 million over the cap heading into 2023 and will need to clear tons of space to be in compliance with league rules and to add players to their roster.
I took a spin the other day, as I talked about on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
Getting under the cap? Oh, it's not that hard!
I released wide receiver Adam Thielen, resulting in a lot of "dead money" but saving $6.5 million on next year's cap. Harrison Smith? Your deal is getting restructured, saving $9 million on the cap. Za'Darius Smith, Dalvin Cook, Eric Kendricks, Jordan Hicks and C.J. Ham? Sorry, you're cut, too. All it took was clicking on a red "x" a few times.
Boom. Just like that the Vikings are $31 million under the cap. Plenty of room to sign some players and draft picks, with enough left over to think about a Justin Jefferson extension.
But ... um ... don't you kind of like those players? Haven't a lot of them been around for a long time. Who exactly is going to play running back, wide receiver and linebacker next year?
And ... um ... it sure is a lot easier to just press those buttons than it is to have conversations with human beings about the end of the road with the Vikings — and perhaps, in some cases, a sport they have poured decades into.
This is the hard part of the job Adofo-Mensah referenced a couple weeks back in his season-ending news conference, and I don't blame him.
The same energy applies to the NBA Trade Machine, which will get countless clicks with the trade deadline approaching on Feb. 9. Are you a Wolves fan who wants to deal D-Lo? Maybe Naz Reid? Just find a salary match and the trade is successful. But it's far more complex for GM Tim Connelly.
Long story short: It's a lot of fun to lose yourself for a little while and pretend that you are the person with the power to make personnel decisions.
But it doesn't seem like much fun to be the one actually making the decisions.