Monday, February 11, 2008

Keeping an Eye on Williamson

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.


bgman said...

Regarding the money available for free agents, I don't think it matters all that much.

Even though he has been authorized by Zygi to use as much of the cap space as he needs, I believe Childress has stated that he doesn't believe in going after large dollar free agents.

He believes in building through the draft and plugging holes with mid-level talent in free agency (examples Chester Taylor, Bobby Wade, Visanthe Shiancoe).

mark_w said...

i don't think it would take a major free agent to replace Williamson's so-called production. if they can take the hit against 2007, they should do it.

how strict are the rules about putting a player on IR? if they really don't want to accelerate the salary cap hit and must keep him, could they put him on IR and use the roster spot for a receiver?

i don't know if "fragile ego" would qualify him for IR, but "broken hands" certainly should

seelz said...

lets face it if we keep williamson no matter how much we could lose with the cap. it will be better for us than that stupid contract for visanthe shiancoe which all we will get out of him in the next 3 years will be bad blocking and a 76 yard miracle

Bill From Arlington, VA said...

Too early to tell yet with Williamson although how the Vikings could rationalize keeping him in the mix following his disastrous 2007 season culminating with the drop in the Denver game isn't clear to me. Sounds now reach my ears that Todd Collins might be added to the qb mix as a proven backup for Jackson and he's comfortable with the short throws in the Chilified version of the WC offense. The deep threat, however, is still lacking and Berrian's the only guy in the UFA pool with much.