Minnesota Vikings: Who Could Be Salary Cap Casualties in a Rebuilding Year?
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The Minnesota Vikings have about $10 million in cap space available to them, but for a team that is rebuilding and trying to add both youth and depth to their roster, they're going to have to make a few dramatic cuts in the offseason.
One casualty of these efforts could be Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson. The 35-year-old is set to be owed around $7 million in 2012 with a cap hit around that amount, and he has ended the last two seasons on injured reserve.
Fellow offensive guard Anthony Herrera, who represents a nearly $3.6 million cap hit for the Vikings, could also be cut in March, leaving the team in the lurch when it comes to the offensive line.
Although it seems counterproductive for the Vikings to part ways with both guards, it's not out of the question. From a leadership standpoint, the team would be more willing to retain Hutchinson than Herrera.
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Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe is likely to walk without a new deal from his longtime team, with the Vikings moving forward with second-year Kyle Rudolph as the full-time starter. Linebacker E.J. Henderson isn't going to get a new deal this offseason, either.
Another linebacker, Erin Henderson, should get a new contract, but a number of other starters should likely see their contracts restructured as the Vikings try to shore up enough funds to not only retain their own high-priority free agents but free up some money to make a few additions.
When the dust clears, the Vikings could have at least $25 million in cap space to play with; that's a good deal of money for a team with needs in so many areas.
Obviously, the rebuild is going to take longer than just a single season, but the more cash they can pool in the coming month the better off they will be.
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