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Tracking Recent Vikings Castoffs

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There are a number of players the Vikings either let go, or otherwise did not pursue from last year’s roster. As the Vikings are playing Carolina this week, where a couple more notable of those players landed, I thought it might be a good time to check in on former Vikings on last year’s roster, and see how they’ve fared this year.

I admit it’s a little snarky in some cases but... in those cases it was just too hard not to be.

MATT KALIL

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I have to hand it to Matt. He is a smart guy, who hired a really good agent. Matt hasn’t played well or lived up to being a top 5 draft pick since he was drafted, apart from his rookie year, for the most part due to on-going injury issues. But after several disappointing years and, let’s say declining popularity among fans, Matt opted for a change of scenery.

I always remember Kalil’s first press conference in Minnesota after being drafted. He said then that he was a Ford F-150 guy. But apparently after getting paid $10+ million to play a few horrible games in his final (option) year in Minnesota, his taste in vehicles changed. It seems he’s more of a Lexus guy now, and has even adopted their slogan- in pursuit of excellence... LOL.

Anyway, getting back to Matt’s agent. Matt decided he’d like to team up with his brother Ryan in Carolina, who he was counting on to vouch for him with Panthers GM Dave Gettleman. Well, that must have worked, as Matt’s agent was somehow able to convince Gettleman that despite a collection of on-going serious injury concerns, and being on the other end of the performance list of left tackles from perennial All-Pro Joe Thomas, he was actually worth Joe Thomas money. Gettleman bought it, and signed Kalil to a $55 million deal, averaging $11+ million/year (what Joe Thomas makes), with $31 million guaranteed.

In related news, Gettleman is no longer with the Panthers organization, having been fired four months after signing Kalil.

It was surprising that Matt passed the physical, but his performance this year for the Panthers has not been. Same old (door) Matt. He is ranked #63 among tackles by PFF so far this year, and is still graded below 50 (poor) in both run blocking and pass protection. But, it’s unlikely he’ll be parting ways with Carolina for at least another year, as he has an enormous dead cap hit of $9.6 million next year.

Matt goes up against Everson Griffen on Sunday, in what should be a fun match-up to watch.

CAPTAIN MUNNERLYN

NFL: Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Munnerlyn is the 2nd former Viking to land in Carolina this year, opting to return to his former team after three years in Minnesota. Former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman proved generous with Munnerlyn as well, buying into 29-year old Munnerlyn’s desire for a long-term deal (which the Vikings weren’t interested in). Munnerlyn signed a 4-year, $17 million deal with the Panthers, including $8.8 million guaranteed.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, that hasn’t worked out as well as might have been expected, as Munnerlyn has fallen off considerably in his performance so far this year. In his stint with the Vikings, Munnerlyn was graded 75 or better by PFF (above average) overall in each of his three seasons in Minnesota, and generally played well after being in Zimmer’s doghouse his first year. This year, however, his overall PFF grade is just 47.5 (poor) after 13 weeks.

He’ll be up against Adam Thielen this week, in what should be another fun matchup for Vikings fans to watch.

ADRIAN PETERSON

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a sad turn of events for AP.

AP has always prided himself in being in top physical condition, and that paid dividends for him in recovering from an ACL injury, rushing for over 2,000 yards and earning the NFL MVP award. Too bad he didn’t pay so much attention to his financial condition.

Despite earning nearly $100 million in his NFL career, Peterson defaulted on a $2.4 million loan six months after he took it out last year. He signed a 2-year, $7 million ($3.5 million guaranteed) contract with New Orleans after not generating much interest in free agency this off-season, and that deal proved to be short-lived. With Mark Ingram and rookie-star Alvin Kamara also on the roster, Peterson found himself 3rd on the depth chart in New Orleans, generating “a little discussion” with Saints head coach Sean Payton when the Vikings hosted the Saints week one.

Well, it didn’t take long for the Saints to realize that AP wasn’t a good fit / expendable, and they traded him a month after the season opened to Arizona for a 6th round pick, who needed a RB to replace the injured David Johnson. He’s had a couple 100-yard games and is carrying the load for the struggling Cardinals, missing both Johnson and starting QB Carson Palmer. Most recently AP suffered a neck injury that may keep him out this week’s game. With Johnson returning next year and Peterson having no guaranteed money or dead cap, it’s questionable whether the Cardinals will keep AP on the roster after season’s end.

RHETT ELLISON

NFL: New York Jets at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Ellison signed what I thought was a surprisingly good deal with the Giants for essentially a blocking tight-end - 4 years, $18 million, with $8 million guaranteed. Ellison played his role very well with the Vikings, prior to his knee injury, but apparently his father Riki felt Minnesota was a toxic environment and that Ben McAdoo, Jerry Reese, and the New York Football Giants were the better place for strong leadership, stability, and the best chance to win.

He went on to say this about the Vikings, and I quote:

“Do (free agents) think this program is going in the right direction and a Super Bowl contender or are they in a position to be another start-up, starting up from scratch?’’

In related news, Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese were fired yesterday in what looks like a complete house cleaning by the Giants ownership after the Giants have gone 2-10, been eliminated from the playoffs, unceremoniously benched 2-time Super Bowl MVP QB Eli Manning, and have been generally embarrassed in what has been the worst year for the franchise in over 40 years.

Ellison has continued to play well as a blocking tight-end, despite the dysfunction in the organization around him. He’ll likely be a part of the rebuilding process- starting from scratch in another start-up- in East Rutherford for at least another year or two, as his dead cap is prohibitive.

It is unclear whether his father Riki has any further assessments he wishes to share.

CORDARRELLE PATTERSON

New York Giants vs Oakland Raiders Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

CP84 signed a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Raiders, including $5 million guaranteed. He’s had a couple big plays for the struggling Raiders, and has seen a little more playing time with a couple of their receivers injured, but his overall stats as a receiver are still marginal. He has 283 yards on 25 receptions, along with 125 yards on 12 attempts rushing. Overall he’s on the same track he was last year with the Vikings.

He’s also averaged 29 yards per kick return (14 returns), which is about what he averaged with the Vikings, but so far no TDs with the Raiders.

Patterson is a $3.25 million cap hit for the Raiders next year, with only $125k dead cap, so it’s unclear if the Raiders will keep him on board as a backup WR and KR next year for that price or not.

BRANDON FUSCO

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Fusco signed a one-year, $1.4 million prove-it deal with the 49ers this summer, and so far it looks like he has.

Fusco had good years with the Vikings in 2013 and 2014, but injury and shuffling guard positions got him in a funk in his remaining two years, leading to his release by the Vikings this past February, in part a salary cap casualty, as the offensive line was overhauled.

Fusco is currently ranked the 18th best guard in the NFL by PFF, with a 77.7 overall grade, performing equally well in run and pass blocking, in-line with his ‘13 and ‘14 year performance, and better than any guards on the Vikings roster.

Fusco is 29 and will be a free-agent after the season is over. Perhaps he’s worth another look- especially if Berger retires.

In any case, glad to see him back on track and playing well again.

TJ CLEMMINGS

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I was happy to see that Clemmings signed with the Redskins after being waived by the Vikings, as the Redskins have one of the best, if not the best, offensive line coach in the league in Bill Callahan. Clemmings needed good coaching to salvage his career, and Washington was about the best place he could go to get it. He signed a 4-year, $2.8 million deal with little guaranteed.

Sadly, Clemmings was once again called to start for Washington at left tackle, replacing an injured Trent Williams, and just as in the past it didn’t go very well. He only played in a few games, but I doubt that did much to help his flailing confidence. Hopefully he’ll get more practice time and better coaching, but it’s unclear if even Bill Callahan can turn things around for Clemmings.

BLAIR WALSH

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After being released by the Vikings late last year, Walsh was picked up on a one-year, $1.1 million deal by the Seahawks, who were deeply indebted to him for missing a chip shot for the Vikings which extended Seattle’s post-season in 2015.

But after some finger-pointing at the Vikings bench in a pre-season game, Walsh looks on track to get the middle-finger from the Seahawks after this year, having missed 24% of his field goals so far, including a 52-yarder that would have completed a big come-back for the Seahawks at home, on a Sunday night game, against Atlanta, with playoff implications, but landed it well short. That ended the game in a loss for Seattle that could come back to bite their post-season hopes.

Yeah, that’s too bad.

Karma.

JEFF LOCKE

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Locke made $1,250,000 practicing his punts this summer for the Colts, having signed a 2-year, $3.45 million deal with Indianapolis with $1.25 million guaranteed. Pretty good gig if you ask me. The Colts included him in their final cut. He was later picked up by the Lions for a month to replace their injured punter, made another $273k, and was released. He is currently out of the league, having made over $1,500,000 to hang around football practice this summer and punt the ball about 40 yards a total of 27 times in 5 games. That’s a little over $56,000 per punt, for those of you considering a career change.

ANDRE SMITH

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

You can be forgiven if you didn’t know Smith was on the Vikings roster last year- he only lasted a few games before going on IR for the season. He didn’t play well. The Vikings had signed him to a one-year deal from Cincinnati to help bolster the right-tackle spot with the former #6 overall draft pick in 2009, but that prove-it deal didn’t work out to say the least.

Despite that, Smith re-signed with his old team- the Bengals- this year on another 1-year, $3 million prove-it/stop-gap deal, and has taken up the guard position. Not surprisingly, it hasn’t worked out well. Smith has done well as a run blocker, but his overall 51.1 (poor) PFF grade reflects his on-going deficiencies as a pass protector.

ALEX BOONE

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Boone was a late, and perhaps a little surprising, cut for the Vikings at the end of August, having been beat out in the end by Nick Easton for the starting left-guard spot. Apparently Boone was asked to take a pay cut to stay, but he refused and so the Vikings cut him, saving $3.2 million in salary cap space.

Three days later Boone signed a $900k, one-year deal with Arizona.

Boone was signed to a 4-year deal in 2016, but didn’t really play up to his salary cap, particularly as a run blocker. In training camp and pre-season he struggled at times, and personality-wise may not have been a good fit with the new-look offensive line, so ultimately the Vikings decided to cut him in favor of the younger Nick Easton, who looked better in pre-season.

Since joining the Cardinals, Boone has regressed significantly, which seemed to be whispered about in Mankato. Last year he had a 72.8 (average) overall PFF grade with the Vikings. This year he is ranked near the bottom (67th) among guards in the league and has a 37.5 (poor) overall PFF grade with the Cardinals.

DATONE JONES

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings signed Jones early this off-season, but was a late cut with an injury designation. He has bounced around since then, having gone from Detroit, to San Francisco, and now most recently Dallas. He hasn’t played much or very well.

OTHERS

  • Shaun Hill remains out of the league, unclear if he retired or just waiting for a call from a team in need.
  • Matt Asiata signed with Detroit, but didn’t make the roster. He remains out of the league.
  • OMG Audie Cole signed with Jacksonville, but sadly didn’t make the roster. He was later signed and released by New Orleans, and remains out of the league.
  • Edmond Robinson looks to have signed with the Jets off of waivers, but was later waived/injured reserve.
  • Justin Trattou signed with the Tampa Bay, but also placed on IR.
  • Mycole Pruitt was signed and waived by Chicago, and then signed with the Texans and is now on their active roster.
  • Zack Line was signed, released, and signed again by New Orleans.
  • Zac Kerin was picked off of waivers by the Lions, and saw a little action at guard before suffering a knee injury and going on IR.
  • Charles Johnson was also signed by the Panthers, but suffered a knee injury and was waived.
  • Jake Long retired after suffering a torn achilles tendon a month after signing with the Vikings last year.