Without Salary Cap Flexibility, Vikings Settle for Re-Signing Kicker Dan Bailey

When it came to kicking problems, the Vikings’ issues gave even the Bears a run for their money. Not only did 2018 fifth-round draft pick Daniel Carlson miss three field goals in a game against the Packers that resulted in a tie, the team’s replacement didn’t fare much better. And yet, Minnesota is bringing him back to camp.

NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero reports the Vikings have re-signed free agent kicker Dan Bailey to a one-year deal worth $1 million.

Bailey’s contract includes $250,000 in guaranteed base salary and could max out at $2 million with incentives. On the surface, re-signing Bailey seems like a buy-low bargain with some upside. After all, he was a Pro Bowl kicker as recently as 2015 and made 90.6 percent of his attempts over the first five years of his career. But if you consider the eight missed kicks (7 FGs, 1 PAT) in 2018, then you might see bringing him back as a more risky endeavor.

But when it comes to this deal, it’s all about the framing. An optimistic Vikings fan would say the team is banking on Bailey recapturing the form of his early years and doing so on a team-friendly contract. A pessimistic (or from where I stand, realistic) fan would note that Bailey has made just 78.8 percent of his attempts in 42 games over the last three seasons. Trusting a kicker with a recent history of struggles when your team is believed to be in a window of contention is like skating on thin ice (then again, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones …). 

Knowing Bailey’s recent history, why didn’t the Vikings go after someone like Stephen Gostkowski? The answer is as simple: they couldn’t afford it.

OverTheCap.com estimates the Vikings have just $1,847,097 in available salary cap space this offseason. So in the most literal sense of the term, the Vikings could not afford to fix their kicking problems with a high-priced free-agent kicker – even one with Gostkowski’s pedigree. Ha!

At the risk of being the pot calling the kettle black, I’d like to point out the Bears have their own kicking issues and cap-related budgetary constraints. But with $17,559,550 remaining in available wiggle room (thank you, Khalil Mack), Chicago’s cap situation is not as dire as the one facing 2018’s second-place finisher in the NFC North race. Imagine being prohibited by a quarterback’s contract that has turned out to be a limiting factor in the team’s pursuits. Sorry, can’t relate.

Now, to make the most of that available cap space….

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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