The league year opens in two days, but handshake deals and cuts are already coming in droves. After remaining largely quiet this offseason, the Vikings got in on the action, making two significant roster moves. They also became the subject of several major trade and contract rumors, though nothing has come of those reports as of yet.
Here is a summary of the biggest Minnesota news from the past few days.
Vikings decline option on Andrew Sendejo
Andrew Sendejo’s position with the team was questionable entering last season, given the Vikings’ cap situation. Even after a strong 2017 campaign, Sendejo seemed the most likely casualty as a result of Kirk Cousins‘ exorbitant contract. But Sendejo went down in 2018 and Anthony Harris stepped in admirably, serving perhaps as an upgrade at safety. As such, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Sendejo would not return to Minnesota this year. This morning, Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Vikings have officially not picked up Sendejo’s option, making him a free agent and saving Minnesota $5.5 million in cap room. It may be the worst year for Sendejo to be a free agent, as this year’s is one of the most loaded safety free agent classes in recent memory. Landon Collins, Earl Thomas and Adrian Amos are just a few of the marquis names.
As for the Vikings’ standing at the position, Harris is a restricted free agent and could garner interest for a large contract. The prevailing assumption, however, is that Harris will return take over Sendejo’s spot full-time. Rapoport said that Minnesota is tendering Harris at a second-round level.
Mike Remmers released
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported this morning that the Vikings have released veteran lineman Mike Remmers, saving $4.5 million in cap space. Remmers started for Minnesota at various positions in 27 games the last two seasons. However, he essentially became the figurehead of Minnesota’s offensive line struggles in 2018. A career tackle, Minnesota moved him inside to guard full-time last season. The results were mixed at best.
With Remmers’ cut, the door opens for Minnesota to make a number of moves on the offensive line. The extra money could go towards signing a top shelf free agent such as Matt Paradis or Rodger Saffold. Or the Vikings could heavily emphasize the offensive line in the early rounds of the draft. Either way, it appears that Rick Spielman is in overhaul mode on the offensive line for the second time in three seasons.
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Kyle Rudolph expects to stay
Despite rumors that the veteran tight end had been asked to restructure his deal, Ian Rapoport reported this weekend that Kyle Rudolph’s agent told him unequivocally that Rudolph will be with Minnesota this season without a pay reduction. Rudolph will make $7.625 million this year.
Agent Brian Murphy of @AthletesFirst with a statement: "Despite rumors, #Vikings are not in negotiations with Kyle Rudolph, have not asked him to take a pay reduction and have told us explicitly that Rudy will not only be on the team this year, but hopefully for years to come.”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2019
Teams have inquired about Vikings corners
The market for corners is not nearly as high as safeties this year; most high-end targets are established nickel specialists. As such, it makes sense that teams around the league would be gauging the Vikings’ willingness to move Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes. Albert Breer did not say which teams have contacted Minnesota about Waynes and Rhodes, but reported that the Vikings could be in the market to move them for a good return.
Neither Rhodes nor Waynes had an exceptional 2018 season, but both have established their value as cover corners. Rhodes earned an All-Pro nod in 2017 after locking down many of the league’s top receivers. Between the two, Waynes makes a bit more sense as a trade piece. Rhodes would certainly draw a greater return, but the weak market could force an overpay for Waynes, as well. Waynes’ contract with Minnesota expires next season anyway, whereas Rhodes is signed through 2022 on a relatively affordable deal, given Rhodes’ career performance. Plus, given Rhodes’ signing bonus, trading him would only save the Vikings about $6 million in cap room, while trading Waynes would save all of his $9.1 million 2019 contract.
Should Minnesota move on from one of them, the plan would likely be to move second-year corner Mike Hughes into a starting role. Hughes is coming off an ACL injury that ended his 2018 season. But in his limited run last year, he proved more than up to the task of full-time cover corner on the outside.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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