Friday, March 22, 2013

Vikings in Talks with Urlacher's Agent

With Percy Harvin traded to Seattle, the Minnesota Vikings were left without a number one (or number two or three) wide receiver in 2013.  Part of that short-fall at wide-out changed last week for the better when the Vikings inked former Green Bay Packer receiver Greg Jennings to a five-year, $47 million deal that includes $18 million in guaranteed money.

Prior to the Jennings deal, the Vikings were approximately $25 million below the 2013 salary cap.  If Minnesota relied exclusively on a signing bonus to cover the guaranteed portion of Jennings' deal, Jennings' contract will translate to a hit of approximately $9 million per year.  If the team relied entirely on a roster bonus, the hit to the Vikings in 2013 would be nearly $23 million in 2013 and $5 million per year thereafter.

Given the Vikings' previous modus operandi, Jennings' contract is probably structured to cover at least a quarter of his guaranteed money through a roster bonus.  Assuming that to be true, Jennings' deal would count approximately $12 million against the Vikings' 2013 cap.  Without further restructuring of other contracts or other cuts, that would leave the Vikings approximately $13 million under the 2013 salary cap.

Having signed a number one wide-receiver, the Vikings are still without a slot receiver and are in dire need of a middle or strong-side linebacker, depending on where Chad Greenway plays in 2013.  Assuming $13 million left under the cap, the Vikings still have money to sign players that they need to step into starter roles next year.

Earlier this week, former Chicago Bears' linebacker, Brian Urlacher, turned down a $2 million one-year deal from the Bears.  Urlacher reportedly was seeking a $3.5 million deal with $500,000 in incentives.  When the Bears refused to budge, the market was essentially set on Urlacher as something below $3 million with possible incentives for playing time and hitting other marks.

On Friday, Urlacher acknowledged that the Vikings were in talks with his agent.  If the Vikings are convinced that Urlacher is healthy, a one-year deal at $2.5 million with incentives up to $3.5 million probably would suffice to lure Urlacher to Minnesota, where he would have the opportunity to remind the Bears of his value twice during the regular season.

Assuming a $2.5 million hit for signing Urlacher, the Vikings could next turn to filling their need for a slot receiver.  The best free-agent options for filling this role are Josh Cribbs and Austin Collie.  Collie has a history of serious injury including recurring concussions.  Cribbs has proven both mercurial off and inconsistent on the field.

In a healthy Collie, the Vikings would have a speedy, sure-handed receiver with a good off-field reputation.  In Cribbs, Minnesota would have a fast and elusive receiver who is one of the better kick- and punt-return specialists in the league.  Given the baggage that both players carry, the dollar figure for either ought also to be reasonable--probably in the range of $2 million per season per player with a bonus to match on a per year basis.  Given injury history, Cribbs is the safer bet.  Given personality, Collie gets the nod.

Signing Urlacher and Cribbs or Collie would fill two pressing needs for the Vikings and allow Minnesota to use their two number one picks in this year's draft to focus on players who will develop into solid, long-term starters for several years--preferably at linebacker and defensive tackle.  The signings would also leave the Vikings with sufficient cap space to sign a cornerback capable of starting this season.

Up Next:  Is Cassel an Upgrade?


ggfb20 said...

which corners should the Vikings take a look at? Also if #26 is re-signed does that fill the void at cb?

vikes geek said...


Winfield's return would alleviate the need to sign a free-agent corner and permit the Vikings to use their second-round pick to fill the longer term need at cornerback. After linebacker, however, cornerback is the Vikings' most pressing defensive need, both short- and long-term. Signing Winfield and another free-agent would not be a bad approach for the Vikings to take, but that assumes that they have the cap space to do that.


Jeg067 said...

Right now our 51 biggest contracts are only 9 M under the cap, knowing that the final cap will inlude all contracts, including 53 men roster + injury list + practice squad.
We gonna have to sign our rookies (11 if we use all the picks), so barring restructuring some contracts, we won't sign 3 more free agents, unless they are really cheap.

vikes geek said...


The cap number includes other values that are not reflected by the team's salary commitment to players. The most significant of those is the recapture on LBTEs. The Vikings are notorious for pushing the bounds of LBTEs and likely will have substantial recapture of that amount this year--as they generally do. Also, we do not yet know the specific terms of Jennings' contract. If the Vikings relied entirely on a signing bonus, the cap number will be higher than I suggested. If they relied on a 50-50 mix of signing and roster, they will be near your number. I think the $13 million figure is closer to reality--even assuming no restructuring--given the likely 25-75 split in roster:signing bonus.

Even assuming a $9 million cap figure right now, however, the Vikings remain in good enough cap shape to sign Winfield, Urlacher, and another free agent. Everything depends, of course, on the terms of the agreement(s). If the Vikings are closer to your cap number, they will need to rely more greatly on the signing bonus.

The complicating aspect this year is that the Vikings have two first-round picks. They do get a pass on the first $390,000 or so in base salary in 2013 for each of the rookies but are on the hook for the rest on a pro-rated basis. Two lower first-round picks probably will not cause a problem, but might require the team to limit free-agent offers. Practice squad is a limited expense.


JEG said...

Jennings contract's is 5 yr(s) / $45 M, SIGNING BONUS $10 M, $17.8 M guaranteed (signing bonus + 2013/14 base), $500,000 annual Pro Bowl bonus, Incentives: $2.5 million, salaries of 3, 5, 9, 9, 9, so the cap hit in 2013 will be only 5 M.

I know practice squad is a limited expense (minimum salary is $5700/week I think), I was just saying that between rookies, practice squad and (hopefully not) injury list, we'll need a little flexibility, and we're already OVER the cap, the only thing saving us being the cap rollover we're carrying from last year, so I really don't think we can/will sign 3 FA.

I'd love to see winfield come back and sign Urlacher for one year deals though.

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