Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman addressed local media about the 2021 offseason for the first time on Wednesday.
Spielman, operating under the expectations of a deflated salary cap, admitted there are going to be more cuts this offseason following the release of Kyle Rudolph.
“We’re going to have to be very creative this year,” he said. “We’re going to have to make a lot of tough business decisions. That process is getting started this week and next week.”
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Spielman Commits to Anthony Barr
Item No. 1 on many Vikings fans’ lists is what to do with outside linebacker Anthony Barr. Barr suffered a torn pectoral injury in Week 2 last season, missing the Pro Bowl for a second consecutive year.
Barr has seen a statistical decline since re-signing to a five-year $67.5 million contract in 2019 — making him the fifth-highest paid outside linebacker in the league. He carries a $15 million cap hit in 2021.
While Barr’s contributions to the defense go beyond the stat sheet — his ability in coverage and matchup nightmare he presents as a pass-rusher and calling plays for the defense, for instance — but if the soon-to-be 29-year-old cannot find his former self, keeping him could become a moot point.
Spielman doubled down on Barr during his media availability, calling him a “critical piece” with a unique skill set that can dictate matters for offense, per Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune.
“Anthony is a critical piece — I know Coach Zim has spoken about it — of our defense. Just him on the field creates some offensives coaches, they have to scheme for him… But it’s all going to depend how the pieces are going to fit in place,” Spielman said.
Spielman added that he has every intention of keeping the defensive core intact.
“Pretty simply, get our core players back,” he said. “Add some players in free agency and depth and get better overall on the defensive side from a personnel standpoint. Then continue to develop the young guys we drafted last year.”
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Spielman Addresses Likelihood of Re-Signing Veteran Free Agents
Spielman did not count out re-signing veterans Anthony Harris and Eric Wilson, who reach free agency this offseason. However, the path to re-signing the two seems unlikely.
“We went through a lot of different scenarios,” Spielman said. “If we got Danielle Hunter and [Michael] Pierce back, and then you have Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks back – you can’t fill every hole with expensive players.”
Veterans like Shamar Stephen, kicker Dan Bailey and punter Britton Colquitt seem like probable roster cuts that could either help the Vikings retain either Harris or Wilson, or go chasing a quality free agent. Offering extensions to Harrison Smith and Riley Reiff could also be an option to clearing up cap space.
“We’ve kind of laid out a preliminary plan, just like if we were going to the combine and we have preliminary talks with agents like whether they’re extensions, whether they’re a reduction in pay or just an outright waive,” Spielman said. “There are a lot of decisions that have not been made yet.”
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