The Minnesota Vikings made a plethora of moves over the weekend to create salary cap space and provide some wiggle room to make a key move or two during the NFL Free Agency period.
Rhodes has been one of the leaders in Mike Zimmer’s secondary over the past several years. The three-time Pro Bowler has spent the last six years covering the opposing team’s top receiver. Rhodes’ best season came in 2017, when he was named a first-team All-Pro and the Vikings earned a berth in the NFC Championship game.
However, over the past couple of seasons, Rhodes has declined. Some would say the Rhodes have been open. He has battled nagging injuries and is nearing 30 years old, a combination that doesn’t bode well for most cornerbacks.
The former Florida State Seminole was set to make over $40 million over the next three seasons. The decision to release Rhodes will save the Vikings well over $30 million in total, including over $8 million for the 2020 season.
Zimmer’s secondary might be getting a facelift, especially at cornerback. Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander could also be on the way out. Look for the Vikings to explore cornerbacks during the free agency period, now that they have the funds to do so.
Joseph has been another key cog for the Vikings defense throughout Zimmer’s tenure. Minnesota’s run defense has been near the top of the league for years, and much of that can be credited to Joseph winning at the line of scrimmage. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017.
Just like Rhodes, Joseph’s decline became apparent over the past couple of seasons and it’s fair to assume age played a role. Joseph will be turning 32 in the 2020 season. The big nose tackle was set to make over $12 million in each of the next three seasons. By releasing him, the Vikings only incur about $2 million in dead cap for 2020 and save $34 million overall, including $10.4 in cap space for 2020.
The decisions to cut Rhodes and Joseph provided the Vikings over $18 million in savings for the 2020 season. Suddenly, they have some wiggle room during the free agency period. Re-signing safety Anthony Harris might be in the cards after all.
Minnesota also released Morgan, which will save the Vikings $735,000 in the 2020 season. Morgan, unfortunately, struggled with injuries throughout the past couple of seasons and never really got a chance to thrive as the No. 2 tight end in Minnesota.
When the Vikings drafted Irv Smith Jr. a year ago, it seemed as if the writing was on the wall for Morgan.
According to Over The Cap, Minnesota has $15,405,936 in salary cap space with these moves.