MINNEAPOLIS -- It's been a while since the Minnesota Vikings were among the NFL's movers and shakers in the early stages of free agency, and coach Mike Zimmer had already indicated they weren't likely to be terribly active on the open market this season. But what general manager Rick Spielman said at the University of Minnesota's pro day on Monday morning offered another rationale for why the Vikings could pass on some of the league's hottest commodities when free agency kicks off next Tuesday.
The Vikings, Spielman said, could have more interest in players who are cut by their teams for salary-cap reasons than players who are unrestricted free agents. Those players are not counted in calculations for compensatory picks the next year, so signing one this year would not affect the Vikings' chances to get extra selections in the 2016 draft.
It's unlikely the Vikings will get any compensatory picks this year, Spielman said, and their group of players about to hit free agency is small enough that the Vikings might not get any choices next year, either. But if there is a recently-released player who can fill the same need as an unrestricted free agent, it doesn't hurt to consider that option.
"There's a pretty good group of guys that are going to get cut, or have been cut already," Spielman said. "You weigh UFAs, but we also put in all the guys who are potential street free agents. We may look at that route."
The Vikings, Spielman said, plan to "just sit back, unless something unique pops up." The last time they used a similar manifesto before the market opened, they signed Greg Jennings at the end of the first week. The wide receiver was 2013's "unique" option, after the Vikings had traded Percy Harvin, and it wouldn't be shocking to see the team chase one expensive acquisition in free agency, especially considering it has about $20.8 million in available cap space.
But a March spending spree hasn't been the Vikings' style since the late 2000s, and it's not likely to happen now.
"We've been pretty patient through free agency, and we feel good about a lot of these young kids we have on our roster that could potentially step up and fill some voids if we do lose some of our guys," Spielman said. "[VP of football operations] Rob Brzezinski is working through some of our current guys now, before March 10. There's a lot of work we have to get done this week. And once free agency starts, we'll probably lay in the weeds a little bit and see what happens."