MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Vikings are going younger this offseason in their attempt to catch up with the rest of their division. Some of their most experienced starters have contracts and ages that make them candidates for a pay cut – or for simply being cut altogether.
One is five-time first-team All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson, who is scheduled to make $6.95 million in 2012, the final installment of a seven-year deal worth as much as $49 million. He is well aware of the way his salary sticks out.
“I know what the cap situation is and all that, but it’s out of my control,” said Hutchinson, who recently turned 35.
He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the team asks him to redo his deal to stay this season. He also acknowledged he has considered the possibility of being let go before the new league year begins and free agency opens next month.
“Any player has to worry about that in the NFL,” Hutchinson, who previously starred for the Seattle Seahawks, said Monday.
Last year, the Vikings jettisoned left tackle Bryant McKinnie and wide receiver Bernard Berrian well ahead of the expiration of their contracts. Right guard Anthony Herrera, due to draw $2.65 million this season, is another candidate for the same fate, though cornerback Cedric Griffin, with three more years on his current deal at more than $14 million combined, is the most glaring contender after a down season and a public expression of frustration with being benched.
Hutchinson, the mainstay of the offensive line, has the most complicated and highest-profile case. His last of seven Pro Bowl selections came two years ago, and his durability and dominant blocking isn’t what it was. But the Vikings would surely miss him if he goes.