Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Despite little salary-cap room, Vikings looking for ‘impact’ in deep draft

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman watches a July 2018 practice at Vikings training camp at TCO Performance Center. Brad Rempel / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- With little room available under the salary cap, the Minnesota Vikings spent much of free agency signing leftover players to minimum contracts. Now, they have a chance in this week’s NFL draft to make up for what they couldn’t afford.

With eight picks in the draft, which runs Thursday, April 25, through Saturday, April 27, in Nashville, Tenn., the Vikings will be looking for depth at a number of positions.

“I know with how top-heavy our roster is right now, with the contracts we have out there, these players that we’re bringing in have to come in and contribute,” general manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday.

Of 14 unrestricted free agents the Vikings signed or re-signed during free agency, 10 got deals with minimum base salaries. The only ones to get more were linebacker Anthony Barr, guard Josh Kline, defensive tackle Shamar Stephen and kicker Dan Bailey.

The Vikings have $1.683 million under the salary cap, the lowest amount in the league. They will need to carve out roughly $1 million to sign all of their draft picks, but Spielman said that shouldn’t be difficult.

“We’ve got a plan,” he said. “We have planned this process all the way out. This is not something that we’re just shooting at the hip. There’s a method and there’s a plan in place from a budgetary standpoint.”

Could that plan include trading a player currently on the roster? There have been reports Minnesota could deal cornerback Trae Waynes, who is due to make $9.069 million in the final year of his contract.

“No one has really approached us on any of our players (for a trade),” Spielman said. “If they do, it would have to be value to get rid of a player because we do have a pretty good roster. … But I can’t predict anything.”

One thing that seems almost certain is the Vikings will make a trade involving a pick. They have made a least one deal during 20 straight drafts.

Entering Thursday, the Vikings will pick No. 18 in the first round, No. 50 in the second, No. 81 in the third, No. 120 in the fourth, Nos. 190 and 209 in the sixth, and Nos. 247 and 250 in the seventh round. That is eight picks in all. Spielman usually likes to end up with 10 selections.

“There are a lot of deep positions in this class,” he said. “I think, when we looked at our front board, this is the most number of players we have that we think are draftable.”

The Vikings are looking to take an offensive linemen in the first round, with possible candidates including Jonah Williams, Juwaan Taylor, Andre Dillard, Cody Ford, Chris Lindstrom and Garrett Bradbury.

It’s possible they could draft a tight end in the first round if either T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant is available. Or they could pounce on a defensive lineman who drops in the draft, with possible candidates being Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence of Clemson and Rashan Gary of Michigan.

“The depth of talent, especially on the offensive and defensive lines, are one of the probably strongest I’ve seen in awhile,” Spielman said. “So I know on Thursday, Friday … that you should be able to land some players who can come in and make an impact on your roster.”

After taking Xavier Rhodes in the first round in 2013, Waynes in the first in 2015, Mackensie Alexander in the second round in 2016 and Mike Hughes in the first round last year, they probably won’t select a cornerback high this time.

“My wife said if we draft another corner, ‘Don’t come home. You could just stay at the office,’ ” Spielman said with a laugh. “Although there’s some pretty good corners we like in the first round.”

The Vikings also hope to use the draft to add depth at linebacker, wide receiver, running back, in the secondary and perhaps even at quarterback. Those positions were addressed in free agency, but mostly with minimum contracts.

randomness