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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Paying Kirk Cousins will make the Eagles’ model tough for Vikings to follow

By Matthew Coller

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has made it clear that his team can afford to pay out top dollar to Kirk Cousins.

Speaking at the Combine on Wednesday, Spielman reiterated what he said at the Super Bowl: The Vikings planned their salary cap to fit a big contract for a quarterback.

A closer look at the Vikings’ cap reveals that, indeed, they can fit contract extensions for star players Danielle Hunter, Stefon Diggs, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks.

But there is one area that would become much more challenging for the Vikings if they do pay Cousins the recently reported price of $90 million guaranteed over three years: Free agency.

The Vikings can afford Kirk Cousins

Even with the core of a 13-3 team in place, the Vikings would be restricted in other areas where they could add free agents.

While spending in free agency doesn’t always result in big win totals, one team that built a significant part of their roster through the UFA market is the Philadelphia Eagles.

Between the 2016 and 2017 offseasons, the Eagles signed the following key players:

  • QB, Nick Foles ($1.6 million cap hit in 2017)
  • RG, Brandon Brooks ($6.6 million)
  • RB, LeGarrette Blount ($1.3 million)
  • LG, Stefen Wisniewski ($1.4 million)
  • CB, Patrick Robinson ($775k)
  • DE, Chris Long ($1.9 million)
  • WR, Torrey Smith ($4.9 million)
  • WR, Alshon Jeffery ($10.8 million)

The Eagles nailed the under-the-radar signings like Wisniewski, Robinson and Long, but they still had around $30 million on the cap between those players – and several like Brooks, Foles and Jeffery have bigger cap hits in 2018.

Philly wasn’t the only team that has recently succeeded by dolling out huge cash in free agency. The Jacksonville Jaguars were the 2017 offseason’s biggest spender, giving out $60 million to Calias Campbell, $67.5 million to AJ Bouye and $25 million to Barry Church.

The Los Angeles Rams paid out the eighth most free agency money last year, landing future Hall of Fame left tackle Andrew Whitworth and three quality defensive backs.

The Eagles, Jaguars and Rams all had something in common: They did not have big money allocated to a quarterback.

CBS Sports’ Joel Corey broke down the Eagles’ salary cap prior to the Super Bowl. He pointed out that Philadelphia had an even distribution with $60.59 million devoted to offense and $60.67 million on defense. Corey wrote:

“Philadelphia subscribes to the view that football starts in the trenches. A little over 45 percent of Philadelphia’s offensive cap charges are devoted to the offensive line.

It’s money well spent. Pro Football Focus recently tabbed Philadelphia’s offensive line as the best in the NFL. Lane Johnson is easily the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle with the five-year, $56.25 million extension (worth up to $60 million through salary escalators) containing $35.5 million of guarantees he signed in 2016. He has the second biggest 2017 cap number for a right tackle at $9,755,961.”

Minnesota’s formula for determining how much to offer Cousins will have to figure in some of the other key needs they have and how those might be filled.

For example: Would the Vikings rather have Cousins or sign Panthers free agent guard Andrew Norwell and Seattle free agent Sheldon Richardson? Would they rather have Cousins or top nickel corner Aaron Colvin and versatile guard/tackle Justin Pugh?

Or do they feel those positions can be filled with draft picks or savvy signings? The Vikings are very adept at handling the salary cap and several of their biggest area of need – offensive line – is also a strengths of this draft. So it’s possible they could still sign Cousins and add impact players, just not ones of the caliber of Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Brooks.

At the NFL Combine, head coach Mike Zimmer expressed concern about maintaining and increasing the roster’s overall strength to spend big on a QB

“You just have to pick out the right one that’s going to help your football team the best,” Zimmer said. “And where you can still do things at other positions. You don’t want to go crazy here.”

The Vikings are in the “final four” runners for Cousins’ services. The question is whether they have a certain number in mind that can be topped or if Minnesota will go all-in for the top free agent QB.

The complete Vikings top 30 free agent target list

The post Paying Kirk Cousins will make the Eagles’ model tough for Vikings to follow appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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