Four Free Agents The Vikings Should Not Re-Sign This Offseason
The Vikings are heading into what should be a fascinating free agency period. They have the least salary cap space of any team in the NFL, as they currently need to clear roughly $12 million just to get under the projected cap. Once they do that – by cutting some players and restructuring the contracts of others – they'll have to clear additional space in order to re-sign their own free agents, pay their rookie class, and potentially bring in some veterans from other organizations.
On Thursday, we gave you four free agents the Vikings should prioritize re-signing this offseason, headlined by safety Anthony Harris. Now, here are four players (all of which are unrestricted free agents) that the Vikings should not re-sign, whether for financial or performance-based reasons. This list will not include lesser players who seem unlikely to return (i.e. Laquon Treadwell) or players who have made it clear they're leaving (Jayron Kearse). We're focusing on some of the tougher decisions facing the Vikings' front office.
1. Trae Waynes, Cornerback
With Xavier Rhodes seeming like a likely cap casualty this offseason (the Vikings could save $8.1 million by releasing him), the free agency of Waynes becomes a very interesting topic. Would the Vikings feel comfortable losing both of their starting corners in one offseason? Making a competitive offer to Waynes and bringing him back for a few more years would give them continuity in the secondary and a solid veteran corner on the outside.
On the other hand, the Vikings shouldn't necessarily want continuity at corner after the 2019 season. Waynes had a decent campaign, especially compared to Rhodes – out of 113 corners graded by PFF, Waynes was 46th and Rhodes 107th – but the Vikings can save money by allowing him to sign elsewhere. Waynes, the Vikings' first round pick in 2015, is expected to command at least $8-9 million annually, and the Vikings should be content to let someone else pay that. Save that money for Harris and let new defensive backs coach Daronte Jones work with Mike Hughes, Holton Hill, an early draft pick, and potentially a cheap veteran at outside corner this fall.
2. Rashod Hill, Offensive Tackle
The 6-foot-6, 309-pound Hill served as the Vikings' swing tackle in 2019, filling in for both Riley Reiff at left tackle and Brian O'Neill on the right side. But as he enters free agency, Hill figures to look for a home where he will have the chance to compete for a starting role. With O'Neill locked in as the Vikings' right tackle of the future, and Reiff likely to either be cut or restructured and moved to guard, the Vikings should look to someone other than Hill to be their next left tackle. An early draft pick in April would be a cheaper option with more upside. Second-year player Oli Udoh should be able to fill Hill's role as swing tackle.
3. Andrew Sendejo, Safety
With Kearse a near-lock to leave this offseason and Harris not a sure thing to be back, there is some talk that the Vikings could bring back Sendejo for another year or two. He knows Zimmer's system like the back of his hand and performed admirably at nickel corner (where the Vikings may lose Mackensie Alexander) in the wild card round upset over the Saints. But Sendejo will be 33 next fall and doesn't seem capable of playing a major role at this point in his career. The Vikings should move on.
4. Sean Mannion, Quarterback
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings raved about Mannion's beneficial impact on preparation in the quarterback room in 2019. But the Vikings can do a lot better at backup quarterback, and should let Mannion head elsewhere. It could be Jake Browning, who was the third QB last season and has some potential. Or the Vikings might consider drafting a quarterback in April to potentially be Cousins' successor in 2021.