3 surprise cuts the Vikings could make this offseason

Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have a bit of work to do to get under the salary cap, and these three players could be surprise cuts.

Paying a quarterback the caliber of Kirk Cousins what the Minnesota Vikings are paying him is a lingering problem. He’s not taking you to a Super Bowl on sheer talent and great intangibles, and there’s not enough money to make the other 52 guys as good as you’ll need to be.

Right now, the Vikings are about $9.5 million over a projected salary cap of $180.5 million (via Over The Cap). So some cuts, restructures and extensions are on the table to reduce 2021 cap hits and make room for some outside additions.

No, the Vikings are not going to cut Cousins. A $41 million dead money hit say so. Trading him is possible though. Some others, like Riley Reiff and Kyle Rudolph, are on the table as cap casualties. Rudolph, for what it’s worth, is not thrilled with his usage the last couple years and he is not willing to take a pay cut for the same role. With a cap hit approaching $9.4 million this year, the Vikings are likely to say it was nice knowing you to Rudolph.

Shifting to more surprising cuts, these three players might be on the Vikings’ radar to trim some cap dollars.

3 surprise cuts the Minnesota Vikings could make this offseason

3. S Harrison Smith

With how the Vikings’ secondary looked last season, littered with inexperience at corner and underachievement for safety Anthony Harris (who’s a free agent), cutting Smith seems foolish. He was not selected to the Pro Bowl for his work in 2020, but he was still highly productive (five interceptions, 89 total tackles, 10 pass breakups).

But as Smith heads into the final season of his contract, at 32 years old and with a $10.25 million cap hit, the Vikings have to be thinking about how to best proceed. A contract extension to lower that cap hit seems obvious and inevitable, but how many years do they tack on? Do they consider trading Smith? There would be a market there, while leaving a huge void to fill.

So if there’s no headway on a contract extension in the next few weeks, the Vikings can cleanly clear all of Smith’s cap hit by trading or cutting him. Cutting him isn’t likely, as head coach Mike Zimmer stumps to keep “his guys” on the defensive side of the ball around. But it’s still within the realm of possibility to cut Smith.

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