Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Money Needs to Follow Mouth

Minnesota Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf has spoken often of his commitment to building a long-term contender in Minnesota. Last year, that commitment was to building an immediate contender. After a false start in Brad Childress' first season as Vikings' head coach, however, and staring down the reality of starting an inexperienced quarterback this season, Wilf has reeled in his ambitions, suggesting that the long-term bit will begin two or three years from now.

If the Vikings truly are committed to building a long-term championship-caliber contender, whether by this year, next year, or the year after, the real work ought already to have begun. And that work, as much as it includes adding new talent, requires advance planning for the retention of the talent that the team looks to employ as cornerstones of a contending team.

With nearly $30 million remaining under the salary cap and only the generally less bountiful pre-season cuts of other teams left to mull over as possible additions to the current Vikings' team, the Vikings are in prime position to make salary cap issues largely irrelevant for a very long time by identifying long-term fixtures and bringing salaries forward to 2007.

The caveat for the Vikings, as with any team, is that salary decisions be made judiciously. Bearing in mind that by paying players in 2007 for services after 2007 essentially guarantees future contract terms that otherwise would not have been guaranteed, such a pro-active use of cap space will require Vikings' capologist Rob Brzezinski to earn his stripes and to truly distinguish himself as a master of the NFL salary cap.

In short order, we will know the extent of Wilf's commitment to building a long-term contender in Minnesota and, possibly, whether Brzezinski is the person to lead the charge.

Up Next: Where and Where Not to Spend.

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