In a previous post, the point was made that financial considerations might compel the Minnesota Vikings to retain underwhelming wide-receiver Troy Williamson in 2008 rather than letting the receiver walk. Uncovered in that discussion was a consideration of timing.
The problem that the Vikings face, is that Williamson has approximately $7 million in pro-rated signing bonus that could accelerate to 2008 were the Vikings to release him this off-season. That salary cap hit, coupled with the even larger cap surpluses that numerous other NFL teams will have in 2008, would greatly diminish the Vikings' prospects of landing the free agents that the team needs heading into the 2008 season.
The Vikings do have a mulligan, however, if they elect to use it. Although the team's re-signing of Pat Williams in 2007 pushed the Vikings over the salary floor, and the team's extension of Anthony Herrera pushed the team closer to the salary cap, the Vikings still have approximately $10 million under their 2007 cap.
In most other discussions, an NFL team's previous year cap space would be irrelevant for discussions regarding the subsequent season. But, when dealing with players such as Williamson--players with relatively high pro-rated salary cap figures and disappointing on-field results--previous year cap numbers are highly salient.
For the Vikings, the greater debate than whether they wish to part ways with Williamson is when it would be best to do so. Unfortunately for the team, the one date that matters most for cap purposes is June 1st--unfortunate because, though that date comes after the NFL entry draft and after the initial free-agency period, it is a date common to all teams in the NFL.
If the Vikings cut Williamson prior to June 1st, the remainder of Williamson's pro-rated bonus will accelerate to the 2007 cap. With enough space left under the 2007 cap to absorb Williamson's remaining pro-rated bonus figure, the Vikings thus could rid themselves of Williamson's remaining cap figure without taking a hit to their 2008 cap figure.
The problem the Vikings face, however, is that it might not be until after June 1st that the team finds out what it has at wide receiver. If the Vikings are unable to sign a free agent, that probably would mean that, other than Williamson and any rookie additions, the team would enter camp without any speed at wide receiver.
The question mark at receiver could compel the Vikings to wait until after May 31st to make a final determination on what to do with Williamson, hoping that some other team will release a viable wide receiver. Assuming the Vikings opt for this route, identifying and signing a viable wide receiver after May 31st, Williamson would be expendable on the field, but he would count $7 million against the 2008 cap.
To give themselves flexibility on the Williamson matter, the Vikings would have to pare down their free agent wish list so that a post-May 31st release of Williamson would remain an option. And with approximately $20 million in cap room for 2008, that might leave the Vikings with too little money to compete for more than one bona fide free-agent starter in free agency.
Up Next: Washington's Mess. Plus, Vikings' options.