$30 MILLION? Really?
Thursday, March 1st, 2007
by Kevin Seifert
Even I was surprised last night when the Stribâ€™s venerable Sid Hartman told our editors the Vikings would have $30 million in salary cap space when free agency opens tonight. As recently as yesterday, official NFL documents listed the Vikings with $12.4 million in space under the $109 million cap. But Sidâ€™s number is accurate, as Judd and I were able to confirm last night.
So what gives?
Several factors are at play here. First, the $30M includes the projected savings of future roster moves. Those moves include the release of QB Brad Johnson, which will save the Vikings about $1 million. Other moves that will save more money are the impending release of CB Fred Smoot, the likely departure of TE Jermaine Wiggins and the possible restructuring of TE Jim Kleinsasserâ€™s contract.
Second, the Vikings were one of the pioneers of an accounting move that annually pushes excess cap space from one year to another. In brief, they insert â€œphonyâ€ incentives into contracts that consume space in one season but then are credited the following season if the performance level is not met.
For example, one season the Vikings inserted a $7 million bonus into S Brian Russellâ€™s contract if he was in on something like 75 percent of the teamâ€™s special teams plays. Russell was a starter and, of course, did not meet the incentive. It counted $7 million against that seasonâ€™s cap, but because he fell short, the Vikings were credited $7 million on the following yearâ€™s cap.
I donâ€™t know the exact figure of the Vikingsâ€™ incentive credits this season, but it clearly is significant enough to more than double their available cap space.
There are no doubt other factors at play as well, but roster moves and incentive credits are the primary reasons. And weâ€™ll cap our cap discussion at that. Letâ€™s face it: Not many people care about the why. We all want to know what the money is going to be spent on, and for that, weâ€™ll start getting answers tonight.