Yes, I said 58 man. I've been working on my 53 man roster ever since camp started, but those last 5 cuts are hard to find. I imagine that the Vikings are going to have some interesting conversations as the final cut down approaches. Here's what I have:
A nice compact 25 man offensive unit. Maybe I can squeeze everyone into 53 roster spots after all.
- Lawrence Jackson
Strong Side Linebacker
Weak Side Linebacker
Hmmm, the defensive unit has 27 guys.Not quite as compact as the 25 man offensive unit, but it looks like I ended up with a spare slot anyway. Er, wait, did I need special teams?
Hmmm, 6 special teamers and I am back to my 58 man roster.
Yes, I am carrying Sherels, Dean and McKenzie as special teamers, not defensive players. If you really don't know why, track down a copy of last year's playoff loss to the Cheeseheads and put Sherels trying to play defensive back on a replay loop.Watch it (averting your eyes is cheating) while repeating "Never again!" None of these guys have any business taking defensive snaps on a team with playoff aspirations. They provide as much defensive depth as Webb provided QB depth.
For what its worth, I considered carrying Sendejo as a special teamer as well, but opted to keep him listed as a defensive player.
Now what? I need 5 cuts. I could suggest applying to the NFL for a special roster cap exemption for the Vikings, but the chances for success seem slim.. Let's try approaching this on a per unit basis.
The offensive unit is pretty tight, and it seems unlikely that it should drop below 24 players. That means there is likely a cut range of 0 to 1 players on the offense.
If we view 24 as the minimum size of the offensive unit and the defensive unit, that totals 48, leaving a maximum of 5 slots for the special teamers. So, we must cut at least 1 special teamer. On the other extreme, we could just keep a punter, kicker and long snapper, which puts the ceiling of special team cuts at 3.
If we need 5 cuts, and can cut a maximum of 1 offensive player and a maximum of 3 special team players, that means we must cut at least 1 defensive player. On the other extreme, we previously set the minimum number of defensive players on the final roster at 24, which means we could cut up to 3 defensive players.
Having set some parameters for this exercise, and seeing that I have decided that I must cut at least one defensive player and one special teamer, its probably time to embrace the common internet admonition of "Grow a pair" and make those cuts, even though I really would like to keep all 58 players.
Sherels is a fine catcher of punts, and even shows some return ability, He does, however, fall far short of anything close to "electrifying". The Vikings have candidates that can at least approximate what he brings to the team, and play legitimate roles on either the offense or defense as well. Sorry Marcus. You played your high school ball just a few miles from where I live, but the NFL is a business. No room for sentiment. If nothing else, the fact that your name on the roster was in bold and italic should have been an indication that you were on the bubble.
On defense, its hard to justify carrying 5 safeties. Sendejo is the least valuable at that position. He also has special team value, but his special team value is eclipsed by every remaining member of the special team unit.
2 cuts down, three left.
Did I just cut 2 of Priefer's guys? Yes, I did. Of course, its easier for me to do this since I don't have to sit across from Priefer at a conference table. Priefer has enough influence to get Spielman to burn a 5th rounder on a punter! Cutting his guys in real life probably doesn't come with silent acquiescence. I'll acknowledge that, and make my remaining task even more difficult, by putting the remaining special teamers off limits for roster cuts.
I can hear the protests already from the Purple faithful: "There are 31 teams waiting to snatch up Sherels and Sendejo the second they hit waivers!" Well, probably not. Those 31 teams are also trying to cut down to 53 players, and there will be a total of 704 players released in the final cut down. Each team will have specific needs, and Sherels and/or Sendejo may indeed be picked up, but the odds are that both will be available to be brought back if the need arises.
What about the remaining 3 cuts?
Well, this is where I wimp out (after making 34 of the required 37 cuts) and say "I need more time." On the other hand, it should be clear where those cuts will be coming from.
The offense can be expected to make at most 1 cut, and I think they will. I think it unlikely that the Vikings will carry 5 running backs into the season. I'm pretty sure AD is safe, and so are Felton and Gerhart, which leaves us with a position battle between Line and Asiata. Asiata has the inside track, but I really like Line. Line likely lacks the ability to move the ball on the ground as consistently as Asiata, but that really only comes into play if both AD and Gerhart are injured. Line obviously has value in the passing game. If Line hits waivers, I think it quite likely he will be picked up by someone. Asiata has skills, but those skills are less valued in a pass happy league, and are probably more easily acquired on the waiver wire.
2 cuts left, and apparently they are coming from the defense.
Lets first look at where the defense won't cut further. The team will carry 4 safeties, and that is what we are left with. Likewise, in a pass happy NFL, the team will carry 6 corner backs, which is what we have. That leaves the defensive line and line backers.
Let's start with the line. The NT position is admittedly weak, but that doesn't mean the Vikings are going to leave it vacant. We go 2 deep there. At DE, Allen Robison and Griffen are obviously safe. At 3 technique, Williams and Floyd are safe as well. That leaves Ballard vs Lawrence Jackson. Both are depth guys, and likely should never start, either this year or in any year. The team should normally carry 8 on the line, and given that we have 2 players who are not eventual starters, the line should take one of the cuts. The line is likely facing losses after this year. Williams is likely gone after this season, and all 3 top DEs are unsigned. The salary cap hit of bringing back all 3 would be prohibitive. Neither Jackson nor Ballard are likely to see many snaps this year, but both could potentially see more snaps next year. As such, this could come down to how Spielman wants to position himself going into the off season.
On to the linebackers, and the last cut.
The cuts have been getting progressively more difficult, and linebacker is last for some pretty substantial reasons. It is a position dominated with uncertainty and opportunity.Will Bishop be healthy enough to play? If so, he is on a one year contract and could be gone next season. Can Mauti stay healthy? If so, he was a steal. Hodges has enormous potential. Greenway and Henderson are locks of course. With Bishop's health uncertain, is Mitchell's slot untouchable? The only LB I haven't mentioned yet is Cole. Middle linebacker is 3 deep, and looks like the position that could afford a cut. Cole vs Mauti? If Mauti is healthy and hits the wire, he is gone, guaranteed. If he is injured, he goes to IR for rehab. Cole's slot could depend upon the health of Mauti's knees.The linebackers were a mess in the off season. They still are, just for a very different, and much more enjoyable, reason.
This process would be much easier if Spielman would just stop having killer off seasons.