If the Vikings are going to get to the Super Bowl with their current group of veteran players, they better do it this year.

Why is that the case?

The Vikings will have 17 players who can become unrestricted free agents after the season, including most of their defensive line. Starters Kevin Williams, Jared Allen and Brian Robison are among those not under contract for 2014, and those are players who will be very difficult to replace.

So the team will have to find a way to retain as many players at key positions as it can without going over the salary cap.

Everson Griffen, who doesn’t start on the defensive line but last year developed into one of the best defensive players on the team, is on the list, too. As is backup running back Toby Gerhart, who is so valuable as a fill-in for Adrian Peterson. Another key player who will be a free agent is Charlie Johnson, who had a banner year after moving to left guard from left tackle in 2012.

Starting cornerback Chris Cook is just coming around as a player and had a good season last year. Others who can go with another team after this season include defensive backs A.J. Jefferson and Jacob Lacey; defensive linemen Fred Evans, Lawrence Jackson and George Johnson; linebacker Marvin Mitchell; wide receivers Jerome Simpson and Joe Webb; and offensive linemen Joe Berger and Seth Olsen.

Percy Harvin would have been on that list as well had he not been traded to Seattle.

Fortunately for the Vikings, they have the best salary cap and player contract negotiator in the NFL in Rob Brzezinski, who has solved challenges like this before and will do it again.