The full contract details for the Vikings' two-year deal with defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson have been reported, and they're more team-friendly than originally thought. Salary cap guru Rob Brzezinski used a creative tactic to adjust for the unique current financial landscape in the NFL, lowering Tomlinson's cap hits during the contract by borrowing from the future.
Here are the details, as reported by The Athletic's Dan Duggan.
The key new detail here is the three void years at the end of the contract. Instead of spreading Tomlinson's $12.5 million signing bonus over the two seasons of the deal, the Vikings are spreading it over five seasons. The latter three of those are void, meaning there will be a $7.5 million dead cap charge in 2023 if Tomlinson is no longer on the roster.
By structuring it this way, the Vikings reduce his cap hits over the two seasons of the contract. Instead of a $9.75 million cap hit for 2021, this puts Tomlinson's cap hit at just $6 million. That's huge for the team as they look to make additional moves in free agency. His 2022 cap hit is $7.5 million instead of $11.25 million. Essentially, the Vikings signed Tomlinson for two years but are paying him over the course of three.
Here's what it all looks like, courtesy of Spotrac.
This is a tactic the Vikings haven't used before while signing a new player (they did something similar with Everson Griffen, but that was an adjustment of a previously existing contract). But it's become a more popular strategy this offseason due to the circumstances.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the salary cap to fall for the first time in a decade, dropping all the way from $198.2 million to $182.5 million. So teams are using all kinds of maneuvers to borrow from future years while keeping costs low in 2021. The cap is expected to bounce back in 2022 and should be even healthier in 2023 with revenue returning from fans in the stands and new sources of revenue that include massive TV contracts and a 17th regular season game.
By saving $3.75 million against the 2021 cap with this structure, the Vikings are up to roughly $8 million in cap space. They're expected to restructure Adam Thielen's contract soon by converting base salary into signing bonus (it's not a pay cut for Thielen at all). That will free up another $8 million or so, giving the Vikings $16 million. They can create even more with a Harrison Smith extension.
The Vikings still need to save room to pay their draft class, but they should have room to make a couple more moves in free agency.
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