This already appears to be one of the most interesting off-seasons in recent history. For the first time in over a decade, the salary cap will go down, forcing teams to make difficult roster decisions.
The Minnesota Vikings are currently just $8 million over the cap, and they can remedy their situation by restructuring veterans with minimal guarantees and cutting others who have no guaranteed money. While they likely will not be big players in free agency, they could feast on other teams’ misfortunes by signing players they release.
Here are some players who could be cap casualties the Vikings could sign:
The Vikings have tried to deal for Zeitler in the past, most infamously in 2019, when the Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer reported that the Vikings were open to dealing Everson Griffen to the Cleveland Browns for the guard. Zeitler was moved later that offseason to the New York Giants as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade.
The Giants have just over $900,000 in cap space and will have to make some difficult decisions this offseason, including what to do with Zeitler and his $14.5 million. They can save $12 million by cutting him.
Zeitler would fill the hole at the right guard, which could allow the Vikings to either move forward with Ezra Clevland at left tackle or left guard, only leaving one more spot on the offensive line to fill. Zeitler has been an above-average pass blocker his entire career, and Minnesota would benefit from having someone like him on the offensive line.
After acquiring Matthew Stafford and getting Jared Goff‘s albatross contract off of their books, the Rams are still $33 million over the cap. While they could create space by reworking Stafford’s $20 million deal, which has no guaranteed money, they will also have to make some cuts; Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey account for $50 million between them.
The Rams got Corbett in a deal with the Cleveland Browns last offseason. He’s just two years removed from being selected 33rd overall and showing major improvement. This season he allowed just one sack and 24 pressures in 1,152 snaps at right guard. While Los Angeles would only save $1.5 million by cutting him, they have to find the money from somewhere.
Corbett would start at right guard and force Cleveland to left guard or create considerable cap space by replacing Riley Rieff as the left tackle.
The Seattle Seahawks are about $4 million dollars under the cap and with Russell Wilson expressing his desire to not get hit as much, they could look to move for some premier offensive lineman in the offseason. Therefore, Dunlap might be the odd man out.
The defensive end joined the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010, the same year as Geno Atkins, another potential cap casualty. Dunlap quickly became a force in the NFL, making two Pro Bowls, but this year Cincinnati traded him to the Seahawks. He finished the year with six sacks, but given that he arrived in Seattle with no money left on his contract, I doubt that he will be back for $14 million next year.
Mike Zimmer has stated his desire to add more pass rushers, and he is familiar with Dunlap from his time in Cincinnati. While Dunlap would likely just be a rotational pass rusher in Minnesota, if the Vikings can land him for a cheap one-year deal, they should consider it.
This pickup would make the Sam Bradford trade come full circle. Barnett was selected with the first-round pick the Philadelphia Eagles received in the Bradford deal. Philadelphia is still almost $50 million over the cap even after moving off of Carson Wentz‘s contract. Cutting Barnet takes $10 million off the books.
While he hasn’t exactly lived up to his first-round billing in the NFL, Barnett has recorded 19.5 career sacks while only starting 30 games. He’s just 24 and would greatly benefit from Andre Patterson’s coaching. He could form a tandem with D.J. Wonnum, splitting snaps across from with Danielle Hunter to stay fresh.
Goodwin is another potential player the Vikings could look to take off of Philadelphia’s hands. The Eagles pulled off a draft-day trade with the San Francisco 49ers to get Godwin, but opted out of last season and hasn’t played a single snap in Philly.
While the $4.28 million they would save from getting rid of Goodwin might be deemed insignificant, the Eagles are in desperate need of that type of money. Goodwin, 30, doesn’t really fit their window of contention after they moved on from Wentz.
He would not satiate Minnesota’s need for a WR3, but his incredible speed can take the top off of opposing defenses. He could serve the same role that Aldrick Robinson did three years ago, burning opposing defenses on the nine route.