The Minnesota Vikings opened free agency by blowing the bank on Monday night, agreeing to a two-year, $21 million contract with former New York Giants defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson.
Initially, it seemed like a pricey contract with several other voids needed to be filled this offseason. However, the lucrative deal was well-received by fans and pundits alike. CBS Sports gave the move an A- grade.
“Tomlinson is exactly their kind of addition: A big, gap-plugging body for Mike Zimmer’s defense. His presence should help their edge rushing situation, so long as Danielle Hunter actually returns to it,” CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin wrote.
While the move alone on paper makes sense, the methods Minnesota used to lower the expected cap hits Tomlinson carries may be the best move made by Vikings capologist Rob Brzezinski this offseason.
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Vikings Pass the Buck Beyond 2022
The immediate dilemma surrounding Tomlinson’s signing was how Minnesota could afford to pay the defensive tackle over $10 million a year for the next two seasons.
The Athletic’s Dan Duggan reported on Wednesday that the Vikings added three void years to Tomlinson’s contract to lower his cap hits.
Here’s the breakdown of his contract, per Duggan:
Dalvin Tomlinson contract details with the Vikings, per source: 2 years, $21M with $20.8M guaranteed, including a $12.5M signing bonus.
2021: $6M cap ($1M salary, $2.4M roster bonus, $100K workout, $2.5M SB)
2022: $7.5M cap ($4.9M salary, $100K workout, $2.5M SB)
The Vikings added three void years to lower the cap hits. So there will be a $7.5M dead money charge in 2023 after Tomlinson is off the roster. He also has $500K available in incentives each year for playing time and sacks.
Star Tribune reporter Ben Goessling noted that Tomlinson’s deal is the first time he’s seen Minnesota use void years — a shrewd move that kicks the can further down the road. The Vikings’ use of void years looks as though Minnesota is prepared to make a serious run at contending in the next two seasons while Kirk Cousins is still under contract.
Goessling noted that Tomlinson’s void years hit the cap in 2023 with a $7.5 million charge.
In the meantime, the Vikings have $15.85 million in remaining cap space, once an Adam Thielen restructure his the books, per Goessling.
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Vikings Aren’t Done in Free Agency
Following Tomlinson’s contract details being revealed, The Athletic’s Chad Graff projected that Minnesota is not done in free agency yet and could also create more cap space by restructuring both Thielen and extending Harrison Smith’s contract.
This signals the Vikings aren’t done. They still want to sign someone in the secondary and an offensive lineman. They have plenty of cap space if they move Adam Thielen’s money around. And can create more by extending Harrison Smith. https://t.co/vAoVoB25fJ
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) March 17, 2021
The Vikings have confirmed an offer to former 2016 second-round pick Mackenzie Alexander and have expressed interest in Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl safety Keanu Neal.
There isn’t any word on possible offensive linemen Minnesota has eyed through free agency, however, there is a deep field despite several signings over the past few days. Nick Easton, Kyle Fuller, Gabe Thompson and Eric Fisher are among several names in play.
Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown also remains available for a trade.
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