Vikings Send Strong Message on Signing 2-Time All Pro WR

Getty Minnesota Vikings' Kirk Cousins warms up against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 9, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings are making room for a big-time addition to their roster.

On Saturday, November 5, the franchise and Pro-Bowl right tackle Brian O’Neill agreed to restructure his contract, opening up nearly $1.5 million in extra cap space. ESPN’s Field Yates reported the move via Twitter.

“The Vikings converted $1,869,444 of OT Brian O’Neill’s base salary into a signing bonus, creating $1,495,555 in cap space, per source,” Yates wrote. “Minnesota was tight on the cap. O’Neill has been outstanding once again this season.”

The move bumps the Vikings’ cap space up to just shy of $1.8 million, per Over The Cap. NFL teams often want to maintain a buffer of a couple million between themselves and the hard cap to address emergency situations, caused most frequently by injury. However, in Minnesota’s case, the front office likely made this move with a specific player in mind — free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Vikings’ Salary Cap Move Signals Intention to Add Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham

Getty Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., formerly of the Los Angeles Rams, warms up before Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The new regime in Minnesota isn’t about broadcasting its personnel intentions, though Saturday’s salary cap restructure is just about the closest thing the front office could do to indicate its intentions.

“The Vikings people are 100%, when it comes to this type of move, guarded,” Judd Zulgad reported on the November 3 edition of the SKOR North podcast. “So the Vikings are not going to throw their hat in the ring, even if privately it is.”

The Los Angeles Rams guaranteed Beckham $1.25 million between his signing bonus and base salary to join their roster halfway through the 2021 campaign. They also offered the wideout up to $3 million in incentives, creating a contract value of up to $4.25 million.

The Vikings aren’t quite halfway to that number, though it is unclear the precise amount required to land Beckham following an ACL tear during the second quarter of Super Bowl LVI. He is also not expected to be ready for game action potentially until December, which would mean less of a regular season contribution than he was able to offer the Rams last year.

One thing is for certain, the need for playmaking wideouts across the NFL will drive Beckham’s price upwards. The Vikings can expect to compete for his services with the aforementioned Rams, as well as the Green Bay Packers. Both were contenders and playoff teams last year and have seen a lack of speed on the edges of their offenses contribute to losing records halfway through the 2022 campaign.

Vikings Appear to be All-In on Super Bowl Run This Season

T.J. Hockenson

GettyTight end T.J. Hockenson, formerly of the Detroit Lions, will make his Minnesota Vikings debut on Sunday, November 6, 2022 against the Washington Commanders.

Minnesota’s eyebrow-raising activity at the trade deadline, adding Pro-Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson to the roster, was a strong indicator that team brass believes they can compete for a Super Bowl this season.

The Packers and Rams are struggling, as are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — all playoff teams in 2021 and a group that includes the last two Super Bowl champions. Division leaders across the conference include the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles. The first two teams are quarterbacked by players who lost starting jobs in the NFL years ago, while the third appears dynamic but lacks meaningful playoff experience at important positions.

The Vikings are in a great spot to secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC, particularly if they can add Beckham to an offensive arsenal that already includes Hockenson and multiple-time Pro Bowlers in receiver Justin Jefferson and running back Dalvin Cook.

The team’s move on Saturday to restructure O’Neill’s contract represents a big step in Beckham’s direction, which could secure an offense poised to make a deep postseason run for the first time in years.

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