Minnesota Vikings Free Agency: Steve Hutchinson Could Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

Brian DezelskeCorrespondent IIIFebruary 21, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 22:  Steve Hutchinson #76 of the Minnesota Vikings stands on the sidelines during their preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on August 22, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that the Minnesota Vikings could find themselves in the tough position of having to part ways with standout left guard Steve Hutchinson.

Releasing Hutchinson, who is due $6.95 million this upcoming season, would be an unpopular decision among the fanbase in and around the great state of Minnesota.

But it’s looking more and more like it just may have to be one of those necessary evils.

Minnesota got six great seasons from Hutch, but with the franchises’ current state, the move to open up cap space to help infuse some young talent via free agency makes a lot of sense—it hurts to say, but it does.

Right now the Vikes are $10 million under the cap—still not enough green to land three big-name players such as Dwayne Bowe, Cortland Finnegan and Carl Nicks, which are names that have been much talked about throughout Vikings Nation.

There is the option of Hutch taking a pay cut.

However, it seems unlikely that this scenario plays out. The five-time first-team All-Pro will likely prefer getting cut and be allowed to sign with a contender.

"I know what the cap situation is and all that, but it's out of my control," said Hutchinson. "Any player has to worry about that in the NFL.”

In a recent interview with the Associated Press discussing the high-priced players currently on the roster, GM Rick Spielman said, "Sometimes you just have to make some tough business decisions.

Those decisions will also involve more aging players than just Hutch.

Other notable players and their 2012 salaries that could be on the chopping block according to Spotrac.com:

Antoine Winfield (34) - $3 million

Cedric Griffin (29) - $4.1 million

Kevin Williams (31) - $7 million

Charlie Johnson (27) - $2.95 million

Michael Jenkins (29) - $2.5 million

The Vikings probably won't part ways with all the above names, but don't be surprised to see some of them have to turn in their playbooks.

You can bet Spielman will have some sleepless nights over the next few weeks trying to hash out what to do with the decisions he faces.

Does he ask the likes of Jared Allen and Ryan Longwell to make a trip to Hutchinson’s house and bang down his door to beg him to take a pay cut and stay with the team for one more season?