Vikings Who Could Be on the Way Out
The Minnesota Vikings' disappointing season will officially come to an end on Sunday, but there are plenty of huge decisions set to be made afterward. Saying "goodbye" to some veterans could very well be a big part of it.
Here are players who could be gone after the season:
Peterson has been the face of this franchise since being drafted seventh overall in 2007. He has led the league in rushing three times, including rushing for 2,097 in 2012. After missing all but one game in 2014 due to child abuse charges and demanding to want out at first, the Vikings stuck with Peterson, but him turning 32 soon and being owed $18 million next season, it looks like his time in purple is likely going to be over.
Maybe they will sign a free agent running back, but it will be a shock if they don’t draft one. Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata are not great, but if the team decides to keep both next year, it won’t be a terrible idea. Though McKinnon cannot break tackles, which was always one of Peterson’s strengths, he is still a good receiver and can pick up blitzes. Asiata can also block and get you some catches too. With the Vikings expected to be more of a passing team going forward, both help in that area more than Peterson. Though neither will ever draw the same attention that Peterson has always been able to from opposing defenses.
There’s a good chance they may try to restructure his deal to keep him here, but even then it would be best to move on. In addition to Peterson declining, the Vikings could also use the money to sign at least two offensive linemen. It is never easy to say goodbye to a future Hall-of-Famer, but it is also a business. Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson were all let go by their teams eventually.
Although Peterson is one of the best running backs to ever play the game, he has always struggled in pass protection, holding onto the ball in key situations and has never been a very good receiver. In the past, his running ability was good enough to overshadow those weaknesses for the most part. That is no longer the case. He has been very exciting to watch, but the time has come to move on.
It is a shame that another great Viking was never able to win a Super Bowl here. Yes, he does deserve some blame for losing a fumble in the 2009 NFC Championship Game, but he also rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns that game. The Vikings as a team had five turnovers. He also lost a fumble in last year’s playoff game, but again that was not the only reason for the loss either.
Last offseason, Greenway said this will be final season in the NFL. He has been noncommittal since then, but whether he retires or not, it is hard to imagine the Vikings bringing him back. He has always been well-respected around the organization for his play, leadership and activity in the community. He has always been a very classy guy, but his play has declined the past few seasons and he is a part-time player at best.
It won’t be a shock if he is ever back in the organization is some capacity, but the time has time to move on from the 2006 first-round pick and the longest-tenured Viking as a player.
Drafted the same year as Peterson, Robison has been a solid contributor throughout his time here. Soon to be 34, he is due $6.6 million. If the Vikings cannot work out a pay cut with him, there is a possibility that they could move on. Even though he is having a good year, he is not worth that much, especially since Danielle Hunter has had a great year.
Even if Robison is back, Hunter needs to start. He has certainly earned it.
After being drafted fourth overall in 2012, Kalil made it to the Pro Bowl his rookie year and looked like he could be the team’s left tackle for years to come. Injuries and inconsistency have really been an issue with him since then. If the Vikings do not sign a left tackle this offseason, there’s a chance they would be interested in bringing him back for cheap, which won’t be a bad idea considering how TJ Clemmings has looked this season. Having Kalil for a full season would have equaled two more wins. Not that he is very good, but he is not as bad as Clemmings
Look for the Vikings to show interest in Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth. He is 35, but is having a great year and Mike Zimmer knows him. Vikings made showed interest in many former Bengals since Zimmer took over as head coach.
At age 38 he has shown that he can play, but sooner or later, he and the Vikings need to move on from each other. He was a 25-year-old rookie, so he is a younger 38, but 14 years in the league is still very long.
You also have to wonder if his decision to disobey Zimmer’s play calls against the Green Bay Packers will also decrease his chances of coming back in 2017. Zimmer denied that Newman would ever go against anything at his press conference on Monday, but right after the game, he said Newman wanted a shot against Jordy Nelson and decided not to go with his plan of Xavier Rhodes shadowing Nelson. Rhodes also admitted that it was Newman’s idea to go against Zimmer’s plan.
Maybe both he and Zimmer worked things out, or Zimmer is just trying to downplay everything. Either way, it was very shocking to see Newman being involved in anything like that. He has played under Zimmer while with the Dallas Cowboys and Bengals. Given their past, they may have or will patch things up, but even if they do the soon to be free agent could very well be on the way out.
Floyd was expected to be a top-10 pick by many draft experts in 2013, so when the Vikings took him it looked like a great pick.
Floyd has shown that he can be a good player, but injuries have continued to be an issue with him. He did not show much his rookie season but showed in 2014 that he could be a huge part of the Vikings future. He also played well last season. Floyd missed two games in 2014 and three last season.
After playing the first game this season, Floyd has not played since due to continued knee problems. During training camp, Zimmer expressed his frustration with Floyd’s inability to stay healthy.
Releasing Floyd would save the Vikings $6.75 million.
After being switched to left guard in 2015 and having a bad season, Fusco was moved back to the right side, but his problems have continued. Releasing him would save the Vikings $3.2 million. He played well enough to earn in extension before the 2014 season, but his play has really fallen off since.
With the offensive line being the team’s Achilles heel once again, big decisions need to be made and saying goodbye to Fusco could be one of those decisions.
The Vikings are set to be $25 million under the salary cap heading into the offseason according to Spotrac.com. Releasing Peterson, Floyd and Fusco would bring their cap space to $53 million. That would really come in handy for a team needing to sign at least two offensive linemen and re-signing Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson. Thielen has had a great season, and Patterson, who looked like had one foot out the door already, had a very good season. He is the best kick returner in the league and did a great job in his first season as a special teams gunner. He also showed he can be a good weapon in the short passing game when given the opportunity.
General manager Rick Spielman already had big decisions to make in 2017, but coming off a disappointing season will only add more to his plate.