The Minnesota Vikings have the 17th highest payroll in the NFL at $105.3 million. That's approximately $15.3 million below the 2012 salary cap of $120 million. To put it another way, that's equivalent to the amount that the Vikings are paying Jared Allen this season.
As part of the collective bargaining agreement, starting in 2013, the NFL salary cap will not only have a ceiling, but a floor as well. The minimum will be 88.8 percent of the maximum, or approximately $107.1 million.
According to spotrac.com, the Vikings have 16 players who will be free agents next season, freeing up about $13.9 million. The remaining 48 players under contract for 2013 will see their salaries and bonuses increase to approximately $101.6 million.
That means that the Vikings will have to spend at least $5.5 million next year to meet at least the minimum or face possible penalties from the league. On the other hand, it gives the Vikings around $19 million to spend on improving the team. A team that now appears to still need help at wide receiver, defensive tackle and linebacker—both Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson are unrestricted free agents next season.
The Vikings have demonstrated that they are willing to pay top dollar for star players. Adrian Peterson is currently the highest paid running back in the NFL. The Vikings also made Jared Allen the third-highest paid defensive end, and Kevin Williams and Chad Greenway are the seventh-highest paid defensive tackle and linebacker, respectively.
That means that when the Vikings extend the contract of Percy Harvin, who is a free agent in 2014, it will most likely be among the highest in the league.
The total 2012 salary that is counting against the Vikings salary cap for Peterson ($11.2 million), Allen ($15.2 million), Williams ($8.4 million) and Greenway ($7.7 million) is $42.5 million. That's 40 percent of the Vikings' total payroll.
Depending upon the portion of their contracts that are guaranteed, the Vikings could also possibly free up another $11.3 million on the contracts for underperformers John Carlson ($4.2 million), Charlie Johnson ($4.1 million) and Michael Jenkins ($3.2 million). If Christian Ponder doesn't show some signs that he can play quarterback in the NFL, there's always another $1.7 million in base salary that could become available.
The Vikings will have plenty of cash available to improve the roster in 2013, now the only question is how they will spend it. It might be nice to spread some of that wealth to the offensive side of the ball—starting with Harvin—and adding some talent to lineup along side him.
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