Marcus Davenport will cost the Vikings more cap space than the Lions this year

Vikings fans immediately thought the Lions wasted money on Marcus Davenport, but the real answer is different.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

About a month out from the start of free agency, seemingly as a way to extend talks about re-signing him, the Minnesota Vikings pushed back the void date on Marcus Davenport's contract to March 13.

Of course Davenport hit the open market, signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions. After he played just four games for the Vikings last season, after signing a one-year, $13 million deal, SB Nation's Vikings' site, Daily Norseman, immediately asserted "Marcus Davenport to steal money from Detroit Lions in 2024", with the subheading "Better them than us."

Vikings' fans certainly have reason(s) to be bitter right now. Davenport landing with the Lions have barely playing for them last season is probably low on that totem pole.

The assertion that Davenport will steal money from the Lions this year, at least compared to the Vikings, is also fundamentally wrong.

As part of his one-year deal last offseason, the Vikings tacked on four void years to spread out his $8.5 million signing bonus. That proration accelerates onto this year and leaves them a $6.8 million dead money hit.

Marcus Davenport will cost the Vikings more money than he'll cost the Lions this year

Davenport signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Lions, reportedly worth "up to" $10.5 million. He's getting just $3 million guaranteed, and his cap hit is just $3.42 million this year. Under a rule simply named the "50 percent rule", the Lions can (and did) treat half of his $2.5 million base salary and other bonuses as prorated signing bonus for cap purposes. The Lions did it with Halapoulivaati Vaitai last offseason.

$1.125 million base salary counting against the cap, plus $2,297,500 in total prorated bonuses, equals a $3,422,500 cap hit for Davenport this year. The other half of the prorated bonus money hits the Lions' cap as dead money in 2025. The two years of cap hits total less ($5.72 million) than the reported $6.5 million base value of the deal.

The Lions took a flier on Davenport, and they structured the deal in a way that looks even better than the surface details that were first reported. He's also costing the Lions half what he'll cost the Vikings (to not play for them) this year.

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